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Design Thesis Ru-topia: An ecological vision for the North Essex ‘Garden Communities’ Benjamin Nourse Homerton College 4th April 2019 14, 967 words A design thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the MPhil in Architectural and Urban Design 2017-2019. This dissertation is the result of my own work and includes nothing which is the outcome of work done in collaboration except where specifically indicated in the text. As part of an ongoing research project, this design thesis features a culmination of images, themes, and references previously submitted for this degree.

Acknowledgements Firstly, from Cambridge I would like to thank Ingrid Schröder, Aram Mooradian, and Professor Koen Steemers for their guidance throughout this project. At Campaign to Protect Rural England, thank you to David Knight and Tricia Moxey for your mentorship into the nuances of rural Essex and for featuring my research on your platform as well as for hosting my talk. From the Countryside Restoration Trust, thank you Dr Vince Lea, Robin Page, and the ‘Rustics’ for your intriguing insights into agroecology at Lark Rise Farm and Harold’s Grove. From Essex County Council, thank you Council Cllr. John Spence for sharing your vision for the future of Essex. Thank you to the Chief Executive of NEGC ltd. Richard Bayley for sharing details of the ‘North Essex Garden Communities’ project. Thank you to C.A.U.S.E, Hands off Wivenhoe, Sercle, and StopNUTown for sharing your views and research. From the New Garden Cities Alliance, thank you to Thomas Hoepfner, and Liz Wrigley for your ongoing conversations into new ‘garden’ town planning. Thank you to my family and peers for all your guidance and input. Lastly, thank you to Danni Rainer for all your support and for being a fantastic fieldwork companion.

Contents i. List of key terms and abbreviations

1. Introduction: ‘Greening’ the countryside


1.1 Definition 1.2 Site 1.3 Project 1.4 Methodology

2. Literature review: Is the countryside not ‘green’?


2.1 Countryside as nature 2.2 Countryside as a cultural image 2.3 Legacy of the country image 2.4 Towards an ecological countryside

3. Analysis: Why do we need to ‘green’ the countryside?


3.1 Contracted landscapes 3.2 Homogenised landscapes 3.3 Fragmented landscapes 3.4 Fragmented human-natural condition

4. Discussion: ‘Greening’ through urbanism


4.1 Position in the development debate 4.2 Limitations 4.3 Contextual validity and wider application 4.4 Further research

5. Conclusion


ii. List of figures


iii. List of interviews and consultations


iv. Bibliography


Key terms and abbreviations Corridors

Narrow patches of land that differ from the surrounding matrix.


In this context, the term ‘density’ is interchanged with ‘population density’ and ‘building density’, referring to the compactness of people and buildings permanently occupying a given area.


Essex County Council.


The boundary region between two or more biomes.


The legal and spatial encasement of land.


‘Eu topos’ meaning ‘good place’. A practical alternative term to ‘utopia’ coined by Patrick Geddes.

Garden city/town/community

A visionary concept of urbanism originally created by Ebenezer Howard in 1898.

Green belt

A concentric area of political protection around the periphery of large cities that prevents the construction of new developments.


The ecological enhancement of land.

Greenfield site

Land that is under consideration for development that has not previously been built on.


Landscape primarily covered with vegetation.


A cultural or natural trail that is ‘good from an environmental point of view’ (Turner, 2004).

High-density rural typology

A spatial concept proposed by the thesis consisting of large mid-rise residential blocks, that are spatially dominated by a surrounding publicly-accessible country park.

LA s

Local authorities.

Land appurtenances

The subordinate physical attributes that are physically or legally bound to land.

Land coverage

The footprint area of a building compared to the total area within a boundary.

Landscape contraction

The shrinkage of landscape as a result of human interference.

Landscape heterogeneity

The degree of material, usage, and spatial diversity.

Landscape homogenisation

The process of decreasing the diversity of material, usage, and spatial conditions as a result of human interference.

Landscape urbanism

An approach that believes that the arrangement of landscape is the key to successful urban design.

Mansion block

A dense mid-rise building based on English country houses.

Material conditions

The dominant physical attributes of land opposed to the human land use.


The predominant form of land cover that is highly connected and controls the dynamics within a region. It is the surrounding fabric in which patches and corridors exist.


Small diversified habitats within the larger administrative classification of land.


An abstraction of landscape into a patchwork of patches, corridors, and matrices.


North Essex Garden Communities.


A basic unit of landscape that differs from the dominant surroundings.

Patch dynamics

An ecological standpoint that the structure, functions, and interactions between ecological systems may be analysed through the study of interactive patches.


A cultural and geographical area dominated by planted landscape.


Rural -‘eutopia’. A neologism to describe a vision of greenfield urbanism that retains or restores the fundamental ‘rural’ characteristics of the landscape.


Town and Country Planning Association.
















Figure. a ‘West Tey Garden Community’ Speculative bricolaged meta-plan




1 Aldham Barn Estate Resodential - Primary School - GP - Leisure - Offices - Hall - Fire station 2 Old Brickworks Estate Resodential - Primary School - Offices - Leisure - Industry - F&B 2

3 Holt House Resodential - Secondary School - Offices - Leisure - Retail - F&B 4 Birch Manor Resodential - Farm School - GP - Leisure - Offices - Hall


5 Easthorpe Estate Resodential - Primary School - Leisure - Cinema - Theatre - Retail - F&B 6 Marks Tey Manor Resodential - Hall - Primary School - GP - Offices - Police Station - Hall 7 Hornigals House Resodential - Research centre - Leisure - Offices - Hall - Retail 3 8 Langley’s Green Esate Resodential - Primary School - GP - Sports centre - Retail 3




9 Broad Green Estate Resodential - Secondary School - GP - Leisure - Offices - Hall - Retail 10 Skye Green Estate Resodential - Research centre - Hospital - Ambulance Station - Leisure 11 Up Hall Resodential - College - GP - Leisure - Offices - Hall - Retail - Arts centre 12 Little Tey Manor Resodential - Primary School - GP - Fire Station - Offices - Hall - Retail 13 Dowsland Estate Resodential - Primary School - Nature observatory - Leisure - Offices 14 Teybrook Manor Resodential - Primary School - GP - Offices - Hall - Industry 15 Moor House Resodential - Farm School - GP - Offices - Hall - Retail 16 Bosch Industrial Park Industrial - Employment centre - Offices - F&B 0


1. ‘GREENING’ THE COUNTRYSIDE Three primary land-uses are contending for the English countryside: nature, agriculture, and housing. Only the latter has the mainstream technological capability to occupy land at high-densities. Despite this, across the nation, residential estates are perpetually expanding into greenfield sites around the fringes of existing communities as well as forming entirely new settlements. In 2017, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that 300,000 new homes were required per year to alleviate the national ‘housing crisis’.1 Additionally, the Government committed ‘to be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it.’2 At a time when nature is in decline, some may argue these are conflicting objectives.3 According to the most recent State of Nature report, 56 per cent of wildlife in the United Kingdom declined in abundance between 1970 and 2013; the primary contributing factors were the loss and degradation of habitats caused by intensive agricultural processes and urbanisation.4,5 The call to ‘green’ the countryside seeks to determine how architecture might intensify rural ecology, through harnessing the national housing crisis as a socio-economic catalyst for landscape change. The thesis examines the existing quality of rural nature and challenges the pressures that new housing exerts on wildlife through testing speculative propositions for a new ‘garden community’. It hypothesises that new settlements can be strategically constructed on greenfield land to ecologically enrich the existing countryside.

1  Philip Hammond, Oral Statement To Parliament: Autumn Budget 2017 (London: UK Government, 2017). 2  Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Environment Secretary Speaks At State Of Nature Report Launch, 2016, environment-secretary-speaks-at-state-of-nature-report-launch. 3  Royal Society for the Protection of Birds [RSPB] et al., State of Nature, 2016, 6. 4  Ibid, 6. 5  Ibid. 12.


Figure 1.1 Natural Essex, Saltmarshes at Wrabness nature reserve.


1.1 Definition Ru-topia or ‘rural topos’ is a neologistic portmanteau to describe a vision of greenfield urbanism that retains and restores the fundamental ‘rural’ characteristics of the landscape. The term has emerged as a manifesto calling to ‘green the countryside’, as an alternative to continual suburban development. ‘Green’ and ‘greening’ are notably equivocal terms which, aside from the colour, suggest an indeterminate environmental concern.6 The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘greening’ as ‘The modification or adaption of something in accordance with ecological principles’. 7 In the context of the built environment, this ‘something’ is space.8 Greening, then, is the ecological modification of space.

1.2 Site The project is sited in the North Essex rural landscape. Essex is often misunderstood and misrepresented by those who do not live there.9,10 There is a public perception of Essex, as a brutish urban landscape, characterised by the ‘Essex man’. Although this opinion has a foundation, the county is inherently rural. Agricultural land covers 70 per cent of Essex. Moreover, it has the longest county coastline in the UK and is occupied by wildlife-rich saltmarshes [fig. 1.1].11 The urban morphology of Essex is not defined by one metropolitan centre, but by a sporadic array of towns, villages, and hinterlands.12 Instead, the county is characterised by its proximity to London, in particular, its geographical and social ties to what were the poorest parts of industrial London. As Meades put it, Essex is the ‘East End gone a roving.’13 The intricacies of traditional rural communities combined with the creeping suburban sprawl of the city creates an ideological interspace that makes rural Essex challenging to define.14 Worpole says that Essex is ‘neither part of East Anglia nor one of the Home Counties; it contains both radical and conservative elements and is therefore open to all possibilities.’15 Essex is on the verge of mass change. Of the national housing requirement, Essex County Council [ECC] were obliged, as of 2017, to provide 136,000 new homes within 20 years, which is a 24 per

6  Author, Pilot Thesis, 2018, 3. 7  "Greening: definition 5", Oxford English Dictionary, 2018, view/Entry/81206?. 8  Author, Pilot Thesis, 2018. 9  "Johnathan Meades: The Joy Of Essex". Documentary. BBC, 2013. 10  Nikolaus Pevsner and James Bettley, Essex (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 1-5. 11  Essex County Council, Essex Chief Executives Association, "Integrated County Strategy Evidence Base: State Of Essex Papers", 2010, 27. 12  Ibid. 13  Meades, “The Joy Of Essex”. 14  Tim Burrows et al., Radical Essex (Southend: Focal Point Gallery, 2018), 5. 15  Ibid, 6.


Figure 1.2 Current development proposals in Essex 1. West Tey Garden Community 2. West Braintree Garden Community 3. East Colchester Garden Community 4. Monks Wood Garden Settlement 5. North Uttlesford Garden Community 6. Easton Park Garden Community 7. Northern Gateway Colchester 8. North East Chelmsford Garden Community 9. Dunton Hills Garden Village 10. Harlow & Gilston Garden Village



Figure 1.3 Land footprint of 136,000 Homes at: 50 dph 25 dph

Figure 1.4 Commuter routes to work from Marks Tey and the CO6 postcode. Data from the 2011 ONS Census.

Figure 1.5 Projected household growth in North Essex (Data: ONS)

Colchester district Tendring district Braintree district Uttlesford district


cent increase from the county’s current housing stock.16 Figure 1.3 illustrates the footprint required for these additional homes at varying densities. The current and previous national governments championed new ‘garden communities’ as a viable answer to the housing crisis, illustrated in the 2016 and 2018 prospectuses laid out by the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government.17 ECC and the local authorities have undertaken a variety of speculative development proposals, but the most significant are nine propositions for new garden settlements [fig. 1.2]. The largest proposal is the ‘North Essex Garden Communities’ [NEGCs], a scheme for 43,000 new homes, new infrastructure, and public amenities on large tracts of greenfield land.18 Of twenty-three government-backed proposals, collectively these will form three new settlements along the A120 corridor, located ‘West of Braintree’, ‘West Tey’, and ‘East of Colchester’.19 The NEGCs face significant opposition from local anti-development and not-in-my-back-yard [nimby] campaign groups, including Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex [CAUSE], Hands off Wivenhoe, and Stop Erosion of Rural Communities in Local Essex [SERCLE].20,21,22 The West Tey development alone faces opposition from 8,500 people.23 However, the term nimby highlights a key question within the argument against development, i.e. if not in your ‘back yard’, then where? – as this argument will also be made elsewhere. As a regional group, for Campaign to Protect Rural England [CPRE] in Essex, it is less of a question of location, but what kind of communities should be built. However, as a collective, their cases surpass nimbyism and highlight significant concerns about the socioenvironmental degradation of the countryside, as precedented by the continual low-density suburban development throughout Essex. For local authorities [LAs], new housing is a statutory requirement set out by national policy; if LAs do not allow for residential growth within local plans, private developers can apply for permission, which if rejected and appealed, is often overturned by the Planning Inspectorate, and settlements could be built privately.24 The previous three national governments have set a trajectory to fulfil the national housing requirement, irrespective of who develops the homes or the physical outcome.

16  This figure rises to 180,000 new homes with the additional unitary authorities Southend and Thurrock. Essex County Council, Essex Organization Strategy 20172021, 2017, 8. 17  2016 prospectus Locally-Led Garden Villages, Towns and Cities and 2018 Garden Communities prospectus. 18  "About NEGC | North Essex Garden Communities", North Essex Garden Communities, 2019, 19  Easton Park Garden Community and North Uttlesford Garden Community are now also linked with the NEGCs through the North Essex Opportunity project. 20  "Campaign Against Urban Sprawl In Essex", CAUSE, 2019, 21  "Hands Off Wivenhoe", Hands Off Wivenhoe, 2019, 22  "Stop Erosion Of Rural Communities In Local Essex",  Sercle, 2019, https:// 23  "Campaign Against Urban Sprawl In Essex: Stop West Tey",  CAUSE, 2018, 24  "About NEGC | North Essex Garden Communities", North Essex Garden Communities, 2019,

1.3 Project The thesis and broader project seeks to influence the real-world development conversation in Essex and beyond. To increase the applicability of this research, the hypotheses will be tested within the parameters of the live proposal for ‘West Tey’.25 To a certain extent, the research will facilitate a critique of the live proposal, aiming to influence the pre-construction design. The West Tey site is located on a large greenfield site, around the A120 road between Braintree and Colchester, and the railway line between London and Norwich. The site encompasses three villages: Marks Tey, Great Tey, and Little Tey, each of which reflects differing rural conditions. Marks Tey [fig.1.6] is a large post-productive suburban village; it has many services including a railway station, with most of the residents commuting to the nearby market towns and London for work and education. The village has some ancient features, but the majority of the community was built in the mid-twentieth century and is now spatially constrained by surrounding infrastructural routes. Great Tey [fig. 1.7] is an archetypal English village, centred around a green with an ancient church, a post office, a few shops, primary school, and a pub. Lastly, Little Tey [fig. 1.8], is a fragment of a historic village, with a small number of residents and a small church; it is only accessible by car. The landscape is a mosaic dominated by intensively managed arable farmland, with areas of low-intensity farmland, and fragments of woodland, orchards, lakes, and urban areas. Despite being located in the countryside, Marks Tey and Little Tey have extremely limited access to public greenspace, due to the sparseness of recreational services, and the fragmented condition of woodlands. West Tey is primarily located within the administrative borough of Colchester. Although the local plan is still ‘emerging’, figure 1.9 illustrates the vast extent of the new communities. The current state of the NEGCs remains at a preliminary ‘broad search’ stage, but the extent of areas marked on the plan, with the addition of Monks Wood and Easton Park garden communities, could signify the wholesale urbanisation of the North Essex corridor.26 The West Tey proposal alone could occupy up to 1700 hectares of predominantly greenfield land, although the current boundary indicates 1035 hectares.27 It is therefore imperative to formulate a concept that not only provides the required homes but ecologically protects and enriches the North Essex rural landscape.

Figure 1.6 Marks Tey

Figure 1.7 Great Tey

Figure 1.8 Little Tey

Since its conception by Ebenezer Howard, in his 1898 book Garden Cities of To-Morrow, the utopian ‘garden community’ concept has been continually implemented, revised, stolen, and re-appropriated. 25  ‘West Tey’ is a preliminary title although commonly used. Officially the proposal is called Colchester Braintree Borders. 26  AECOM, “North Essex Garden Communities: Garden Communities Charter”, 2016. 27  Smart Growth UK, Garden communities, 2018.



Colchester-Tendring Borders NEGC

‘West Tey’ NEGC

Figure 1.9 Emerging Colchester local plan 2017-2033 ‘Garden community’ broad area of search New residential allocation [2016] New employment [2016] 8

AONB SSSI Special conservation area Special protection area Nature reserves

Listed parks and gardens Countryside rights of way Public green space EA Flood zone 3 Ancient woodland

Howard reacted to the overcrowded, unhealthy conditions of the industrial city, in favour of spacious communities of twentyfive dwellings per hectare, that had the benefits of both town and country.28 The concept preceded the popularisation of the motorcar and the mass suburban sprawl that followed throughout the twentieth century. The conditions have significantly changed. Today, London is post-industrial and is comparatively clean and healthy. Continuing the spirit of radical settlements in Essex, the thesis uses West Tey as a hypothetical template to speculate reformation, in reaction to ecological decline and the increasing divide between people and nature.


Figure 1.10 Live project proposals for ‘West Tey’ Garden Community

Figure 1.11.1 Aerial photograph


When interviewed about the current environmental strategy for the NEGC Concept Framework with current ‘West Tey’ boundary. new communities the County Councillor John Spence, Chairman of NEGC ltd. said: Figure 2.5: Concept Framework

Great Tey

“The emphasis is going to be on sustainability and quality of design and ensuring that we enhance the linkage of the countryside and the community, the rural and the urban, really well absorbing them both creating clear corridors where people can walk, run, and cycle.” 29 The architectural and planning professions pejoratively provide little guidance for the development of greenfield sites, instead favouring brownfield development, despite the extent of the area. Of course, ecologically-poor brownfield sites should be developed first, but the terms brownfield and greenfield, do not determine the ecological value of land. In The Greening of Cities, Nicholson-Lorn compares the sterility of public greenspaces, with the ecological complexity of brownfield land.30 In many cases, brownfield sites are more biodiverse than the surrounding context, with value to wildlife for their varied structure and freedom from agricultural forces.31 The plotland settlement at Langdon Hills, in South Essex, was developed on former agricultural land but was mainly abandoned by the beginning of the second world war. Biodiversity reclaimed the site ‘leaving only telegraph poles still projecting from the trees,’ and today much of Langdon is a nature reserve and a country park.32,33 It would be arguably naive to assume that all greenfield development is entirely avertable; thus, the project accepts an extent of development inevitability. As the projections indicate that housing and agricultural pressures are unlikely to falter, the thesis aims to engage with rather than disregard the greenfield development debate. Although the national housing issue poses a threat to wildlife, it is fundamentally an opportunity for change.


28  Howard Ebenezer, F. J Osborn and Lewis Mumford, Garden Of Cities Of To-Morrow (Cambridge, Mass: M.I.T Press, 1973). 29  Cllr. John Spence, North Essex Garden Community Headlines, interview by Author, Essex, 2019. 30  David Nicholson-Lord, The Greening Of The Cities (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987). 31  Ibid. 32  Dennis Hardy and Colin Ward,  Arcadia For All  (Nottingham: Five Leaves, 2004), 209. 33  Oliver Rackham,  Ancient Woodland  (Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbrightshire: Castlepoint, 2003).










MRT route and stops






Marks Tey











New A120 alignment New A12 alignment




Figure 1.11.2 Iterative Plan, Gateway 120, “Presentation to Marks Tey Parish Council”, April DESIGN PROPOSAL 2018. Concept Masterplan Tiptree


Town Centre

Neighbourhood Centre Secondary School Primary School Residential


‘Green Frame’ connected network of open space

MRT and public transport route and 37 stops

đƫ The purpose of this con demonstrate what could that it could be viable a but it is not the design. what it would necessary as we have yet to fully e collaborate; đƫ It is an iterative process đƫ Marks Tey PC will be a k stakeholder with whom consult.

Figure 1.11.3 Specualtive proposal, Studio LK and Gateway 120, “Presentation to Marks Tey Parish Council”, April 2018.

Figure 1.11.4 Marks Tey and Stanway Future Vision, by Sophie Smith, 2019. 9

Figure 1.11 Google Earth view of ‘West Tey’, 2019.

G reat

Te y ilw Ra ine

l ay tw be een l pe ap Ch ey sT

ark dM an

Fragmented remnants of woodland

Small Roman river

Intensive arable land is the dominant land cover

Land is under threat from new town speculation

L ittle

People and nature confined by transport infrastructure


Te y

M A rks Limited public access to greens-pace in Marks Tey and Little Tey.

T ey

1.4 Methodology The true nature of design-research is non-linear with no definitive ‘beginning’ or ‘end’. It is a cycle of proposition, formative testing, modification, and re-proposition. The thesis employs an exploratory research model that perpetually refines the hypothesis, generating new layers of questioning. Due to the current preliminary state of the live project, substantive theory is employed, to produce transferable design interventions.34 The design-research process licences creative speculations in response to data from a range of sources. These design potentials are then tested and rationalised into a framework of design guidelines that collectively form a meta-survey, which as a whole, aims to demonstrate ‘an ecological vision for the North Essex ‘Garden Communities’.’ Through interacting with local people and places during the period of fieldwork, spontaneous chance events were facilitated, creating deeper questions that subsequentially highlight research priorities. The project collaborated with a number of groups, including: Campaign to Protect Rural England [CPRE Essex], to develop a countywide planning strategy that questions ‘what’, rather than ‘where’ we should build; the New Garden Cities Alliance, to question the future feasibility of implementing a garden community in North Essex; the Countryside Restoration Trust to interrogate the details and potential of agroecological land management; and interviews and informal conversations with a myriad of individuals and local groups. The fieldwork data-collection process was divided by geographical tasks including investigations into the ecological condition of the proposed site, North Essex rural vernacular, suburbanisation processes, the arrangement of new towns, agroecological processes, protected landscapes, and large country houses and parks. The thesis proposes an alternative to the economic land valuation model that quantifies the value of land to humans. The value of land cannot be categorised into one specific use and; it is composed of many complex layers and systems [fig. 1.12].35 To measure the qualitative ecological value of land the type and direction of ecological change can be highlighted. In some instances, it is difficult to quantify the degree of change, so the existing site serves as a measurement baseline from which propositions can be compared as positive or negative. To measure the type of qualitative change, a typological chart contrasts the impact of change on humans and wildlife through five distinct conditions that define a healthy ecosystem, as noted by Ian McHarg in 1969, namely: complexity, diversity, symbiosis, stability, and entropy [fig. 1.13].36

Figure 1.12 Essex as a multivalent landscape

Existing site at West Tey Simple Uniform Independent Unstable High-entropy

34  Michael Murphy, Landscape Architecture Theory (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2017), 21. 35  Ian L McHarg, Design With Nature (Garden City, N.Y.: Published for the American Museum of Natural History [by] the Natural History Press, 1969), 34. 36  Ibid,120.

Complex Diverse Interdependent Stable Low-entropy

Figure 1.13 Diagramatic qualitative measurement chart Human value Natural value 11





Figure 1.14 Landscape abstracted into patch-matrix-corridor framework


Through appropriating rudimental landscape ecology elements, namely: patches, matrices, and corridors, with the addition of architecture, the broad issue of habitat enclosure can be compartmentalised into four respective sections: landscape contraction, landscape homogenisation, landscape fragmentation and the fragmentation of the human-natural relationship. Each of these processes are studied, taking the existing site as a point of departure, from which the impact of the live proposal and a series of design propositions are speculated and tested, before being collectively synthesised into a speculative meta-plan. The thesis is an antecedent to a design project; thus, it is not a design proposal. It is a manifesto and a set of design investigations in response to the current concerns of rural landscape.


Figure 2.1 ‘Natural’ state of the landscape: Decidous oak-bich temporal woodland. A fragment of ancient woodland in Shenfield Common, Brentwood, Essex.


2. IS THE COUNTRYSIDE NOT ‘GREEN’? ‘Greenspace’ is an equivocal term that refers to any form of vegetated land. It encompasses varying land-uses with variable ecological values, ranging from rich ancient woodland to manicured lawns. To define whether the countryside is ‘green’ the land-use and its physical appurtenances must first be examined. Before undertaking design analysis, the thesis will first contrast the physical reality of the rural landscape against the position of the countryside within the collective imagination, to disentangle the English relationship with rural nature, in order to attain a theoretical standpoint for Ru-topia.

2.1 Countryside as nature The English countryside is not natural. The Doomsday book of 1086 offers a glimpse into the natural state of the countryside; in Essex, ancient oak-birch forests covered the county [fig. 2.2].1 Although some fragments of ancient woodland remain, most notably Epping Forest, the majority of the county has been deforested and enclosed into agricultural land. Although farmland is ‘green’, in that it is vegetated, it is a highly cultivated landscape. The physical attributes of farmland primarily consist of a single species sewn in linear patterns, with few other species migrating through, producing homogenous landscapes. The ecological value of farmland is site-specific, but generally, its value is less than uncultivated landscapes such as woodland, wild meadows, or parkland.2 Per square metre, greenspaces in London have higher levels of specific biodiversity than the intensive farmland in Essex, due to the variety of urban enclosures, creating an assortment of microclimates for habitats. Among many, the urban foxes, pelicans of St James’ Park, and 125 species of fish in the tidal River Thames illustrate that despite the preconception, artificial landscapes do not directly correlate to lack of biodiversity.3

Figure 2.2 ‘Natural’ state of the landscape: Decidous oak-bich temporal woodland. A fragment of ancient woodland in Shenfield Common, Brentwood, Essex.

1  Brian K Roberts and Stuart Wrathmell, Region And Place (Swindon: English Heritage, 2002). 2  G. Philip Robertson et al., "Farming For Ecosystem Services: An Ecological Approach To Production Agriculture", Bioscience 64, no. 5 (2014): 404-415. 3  "Main Biodiversity Resources In The Tidal Thames", Port Of London Authority, 2019,


Figure 2.3 The pastoral image, exemplified by John Constable’s Wivenhoe Park, Oil on canvas (Washington, D.C: National Gallery of Art, 1816).


2.2 Countryside as a cultural image If the countryside is not natural, it can be conceived as a spatial collage of cultural ‘images.’ In their book The Differentiated Countryside, Murdoch, Lowe, Ward, and Marsden state that the English countryside may be ‘differentiated’ into two fundamental cultural sensibilities: pastoralism and modernism.4 The pastoral image originates in the Romantic movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which emerged in reaction to the changes in society brought about by growing industrialism.5 It is a bucolic idealisation of the village green, surrounded by a pub, a church, and a manor house, with rolling hills in the distance. In rural Essex, this image is best depicted by the works of John Constable [fig. 2.3]. Ruskin, Tennyson, and Wordsworth endorsed nature as the solution to the physical and moral corruption of the industrial revolution.6 Happiness, ‘fresh air’, and health may only be found in the countryside; this is a dualistic image in which only nature exists where urbanity is absent.7 Central to pastoralism is the notion of antiurban escapism, grounded in the attitude that the countryside should remain free of industrial processes.8 As natural functions are increasingly removed from the land, the collective understanding of nature is increasingly misconstrued as beautiful. As Tennyson noted in 1849, nature is not exclusively beautiful; instead, it is sublime, and ‘red in tooth and claw’.9,10 Edmund Burke conceived of sublimity as a stimulant of fear, but from which the observer gains a degree of pleasure from the knowledge that the object is not immediately dangerous; the ‘image’ of nature is more pleasurable than true nature. Pastoralism is ‘green’ in its original intentions but is distorted by creating naturalistic landscapes rather than natural landscapes. In contrast, modernism viewed timeless pastoral attitudes as regressive.11 The economic pull of industry did not purely drive the rural depopulation of the nineteenth century, but also the notion that urban prosperity would provide a happier life for the working classes.12 Modernism endorsed the democratic rearrangement of the countryside to be included in a broader national framework, allowing rural dwellers the same opportunities for education and welfare as urban dwellers.

4  Jonathan Murdoch et al., The Differentiated Countryside (Abingdon: Routledge, 2011), 1. 5  Ibid. 6  Ibid, 2. 7  Jan Marsh, Back To The Land (London: Quartet Books, 1982), 4. 8  Murdoch et al., The Differentiated Countryside, 2. 9  Alfred Tennyson. In Memoriam. London: E. Moxon, 1850. 10  Adam Sutherland, "Reinventing The Rural: A New Perspective On Our Countryside", The Architectural Review, 2018, reinventing-the-rural-a-new-perspective-on-our-countryside/10029195.article. 11  Murdoch et al., The Differentiated Countryside, 2. 12  Ibid.


Figure 2.4 Typical state of the rural landscape: Intensively productive enclosed agricultural land. View: Wheat field in Great Sailing, near ‘Braintree Borders’ garden community.


New transport infrastructure integrated the isolated hinterlands into a prosperous network, serving as an extension of modern life into rural areas. In Here comes the sun, Worpole contends that ‘Open green landscape plus new white architecture became the universal icon of social democracy.’13 Modernism envisioned a productive countryside, that introduced intensive farming methods, to create a rural landscape that was as efficient as the industrial city. 14 Following World War II, this discourse was applied to agricultural practices, which underwent rapid commercial transformation due to the technological revolution, which later became embedded in national policy, fully integrating the rural landscape into the capitalist economy.15 The modernist relationship to nature is epitomised in Tunnard’s 1938 book Gardens in the Modern Landscape, satirising the individualistic process of enclosure as the ‘Butcher Method’.16 Tunnard appropriates the aesthetic of ownership from the English country estate, creating vast vistas of open, free-flowing open land, perceived to be from a country seat into a collectivist vision for urbanism. 17 Garden designer Mien Ruys observed of Le Corbusier that he adored nature but fundamentally misunderstood it.18 The modernism discernment of greenspace was as an inorganic construction material.19 Nan Fairbrother noted that throughout the twentieth century there was a repeated failure to conceive of the planted ground as a living ecosystem with an independent means of survival.20 The typical mown and weed controlled amenity lawns became a symbol of what is wrong with the modernist relationship to nature.21

13  Worpole, Ken. Here Comes The Sun. London: Reaktion, 2000. Crosref. Michael Hebbert, "Re-Enclosure Of The Urban Picturesque: Green-Space Transformations In Postmodern Urbanism", Town Planning Review 79, no. 1 (2008): 33, doi:10.3828/tpr.79.1.4. 14  Ibid. 15  Ibid. 16  Christopher Tunnard, Gardens In The Modern Landscape (London: The Architectural Press, 1938),149. 17  Michael Hebbert, "Re-Enclosure Of The Urban Picturesque: Green-Space Transformations In Postmodern Urbanism", Town Planning Review 79, no. 1 (2008): 33, doi:10.3828/tpr.79.1.4. 18  J Woudstra, and K Fieldhouse. Regeneration of Public Parks’ (E & FN Spon: London, 2000),136. 19  Lisa Taylor, Urban Open Spaces (Rizzoli Intl, 1981), 85. 20  Nan Fairbrother, The Nature Of Landscape Design (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974), 25. 21  Hebbert. "Re-Enclosure of the Urban Picturesque: Green-Space Transformations in Postmodern Urbanism." 42.


Figure 2.5 Timeline of recent radical developments in Essex Hadleigh Colony


Purleigh Colony Ashingdon Colony Wickford Colony



Romford Garden Suburb


Silver End Industrial Village Becontree Estate Jaywick


Bata Industrial Village Stanford-le-hope Colony


Harlow New Town Basildon New Town



London overspill developments




University of Essex Essex Design Guide for Residential Areas Chelmer Village South Woodham Ferrers



Great Notley Garden Village



New Essex Design Guide North Essex Garden Communities


2.3 Spatial legacy of the country image In her book Back to the Land Marsh notes that pastoral sensibility amassed a wider uptake following the agricultural depression of the late nineteenth century, she states ‘Emotional value accrued to the farmland that was no longer England’s economic base and the countryside became a symbol of escape from the dominant values of capitalism.’22,23 Pastoral sensibilities were no longer practised solely by elites and intellectuals but became the ‘Arcadian dream’ of a growing middle-class society. This image developed from the older, aristocratic concepts of nature and the countryside, but in practicality manifested as the suburban house-and-garden typology.24 The unhealthy state of Victorian warren streets in the East End and the Cheap Trains Act 1883, pushed the urbanites to live further from central London to the countryside or by the sea.25 Since, rural Essex has been in a continuous state of migratory flux with London, resulting in mass suburbanisation, which is exemplified by the loss of previously rural communities at Romford, Barking, and Ilford to Greater London, following the realignment of the counties in 1965.26 Perhaps the most influential urban concept was Howard’s ‘garden city’, creating a place for urbanites to ‘escape to the country’, in search of health, morality, and ‘fresh air’, while retaining the socioeconomic benefits of the city. Despite this, the ‘garden community principles’ remain the dominant idealised form of urban development in England, which have been distilled by the Town and Country Planning Association [TCPA] into ten principles ‘for the twentieth century’.27 Since the mid-nineteenth century, Essex has served as an architectural testing-ground, hosting a variety of residential utopias to embrace the additional population.28 An array of urban experiments were created, including the agrarian and Tolstoian ‘colonies’, Romford Garden Suburb, the plotlands, the new town utopias at Harlow and Basildon, the industrial villages at Silver End and Tilbury, and suburban extensions to almost every existing community. In his 1979 Book of Essex, Wentworth Day claimed that Essex had become ‘the dustbin of London.’29,30 Moreover, Turner contends that ‘Each solution to the housing problem has, in turn, been discarded and replaced by a new solution.’31 22  Jan Marsh, Back To The Land, 27-28. 23  Jonathan Murdoch et al., The Differentiated Countryside, 1. 24  Ibid. 25  Gillian Darley, "From Plotlands to New Towns", in  Radical Essex  (Southend: Focal Point Gallery, 2018), 103. 26  Charles Holland, "The Rise and Fall", in Radical Essex (Southend: Focal Point Gallery, 2018), 80. 27  "Garden City Principles", Town And Country Planning Association, 2019, https:// 28  Burrows et al., Radical Essex, 6. 29  James Wentworth Day, Book Of Essex (Letchworth: Egon, 1979). 30  Dennis Hardy and Colin Ward,  Arcadia For All  (Nottingham: Five Leaves, 2004), 192. 31  Tom Turner. Landscape Planning (London: UCL Press), 1996. 162.

The 1973 Design Guide For Residential Areas by Essex County Council, seeks to objectify design processes, to create formulae for successful new residential places in Essex and ‘avoid the pitfalls of suburbia’.32,33 The success of the guides is questionable, given the suburban attributes of Chelmer Village, South Woodham Ferrers, and Great Notley, that followed the principles of the guide. In reaction to the enclosure of countryside, Sir Patrick Abercrombie, who founded the Council for the Preservation of Rural England [now CPRE], campaigned to protect the greenfield landscape surrounding London, leading to the implementation of the Green Belt Act 1938 and later the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 [National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty [AONBs], and Nature Reserves are all protected under]. Arguably, rural Essex is in greater need of ‘greening’ than the other home counties; Kent, Surrey, and Buckinghamshire all have large AONBs in addition to the protection from the greenbelt. The most extensive urban constraint policy in Essex is the 2011 London green belt, governing approximately twenty-seven per cent of the county [97,764 hectares].34 The appellation of the green belt is deceptive. The ‘green’ belt implies a vegetated landscape or an environmental aspect to the policy, although, in reality, it is a nonphysical zone. Although, the original green belt policy was conceived to provide recreational space for Londoners. The vast distance of the current green belt from the city centre is unwalkable; thus, the prevention of urban sprawl has superseded this objective. Arguably, the critical flaw of the green belt is not its loopholes or the strength of policy, but the physical demarcation of its outer boundaries. Without physical restriction, the boundaries can change - and have done many times. If the primary objective is to prevent the sprawl of London, the green belt is failing, as London overspill development is occurring beyond the periphery as illustrated in figure 1.2. The enforcement of a political boundary between the natural and human advocates a false dichotomy that people and wildlife cannot coexist. 35 Arguably, the rural landscape should be celebrated rather than perceived as a constraint.36

32  Essex County Council, A Design Guide for Residential Areas  (Tiptree: Anchor Press Ltd., 1973) 63. 33  Essex Planning Officers Association, "Essex Design Guide",  Essexdesignguide. Co.Uk, 2019, 34  This data is extracted from Ordnance survey maps processed using GIS by the author. 35  Author, Pilot Thesis, 15. 36  Ibid.

Figure 2.6. The 1973 Essex Design Guide for Residential Areas

Figure 2.7 Silver Street, Silver End Francis Crittall’s industrial village.

Overleaf Figure 2.8 Radical Settlements in Essex 21



2.4 Towards an ecological countryside It is often overlooked that humans are natural. From pot plants to the effects of plastic on undiscovered marine species, humanity is integrated into almost every ecosystem on Earth. 37 As the dominant species on the planet, where we position ourselves hierarchically in this ecosystem is paramount. In his lecture Lessons in the Anthropology of Nature, Descola notes that “There is an illusion of perspective. The world becomes nature when we consider it universally.  The world becomes history when we consider it under the particular.” 38 Through positioning ourselves within a global ecosystem, we too become part of nature, yet when we isolate ourselves, we become a fragment of time.39 In Beyond Nature and Culture, Descola writes that it is only in the Western world since the renaissance that humans have lived autonomously from nature.40 He notes that there are still regions of the world where humans and nature exist in symbiosis, e.g. in Chinese and Japanese societies that ‘think of nature as part of an extension of the self.’41 To what extent then, can new architecture and nature be integrated into one interconnected ecosystem? In Cities in Evolution, Geddes argues that towns and cities are organic entities that continuously evolve with time.42 He conceived the term Sedes hominum, the ‘seat of humanity’, to refer to the place where humans spatially locate themselves within ecology.43 In Design for Nature, McHarg states that ‘Man is that uniquely conscious creature who can perceive and express. He must become the steward of the biosphere. To do this, he must design with nature.’44 Architects have a professional responsibility to represent the demands of clients. In instances when these demands are in moral opposition to nature, arguably architects have an additional obligation to design for nature. Ecology is not merely the study of natural organisms but is also the study of the relationship between organisms and their environment.45 It sits within the school of ecological urbanism, a strand of landscape urbanism, that perceives ecology as the centre of successful urban planning, which the thesis aims to expand to the rural context.46 37  Marina Alberti et al., "Integrating Humans Into Ecology: Opportunities And Challenges For Studying Urban Ecosystems", Bioscience 53, no. 12 (2003): 1169. 38  Phillippe Descola, "Lessons In The Anthropology Of Nature", 2009. 39  Ibid. 40  Philippe Descola, Beyond Nature And Culture (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013). 41  Ibid. 42  Mairi McFadyen, "The Cultural-Ecological Imagination Of Patrick Geddes (1854 - 1932)",  North Light, 2019, patrick-geddes. 43  Roberto Gambino and Attilia Peano,  Nature Policies And Landscape Policies (Cham: Springer, 2014). 44  Ian L McHarg, Design With Nature, 1969, 5. 45  "Ecology", Oxford English Dictionary, 2018, definition/ecology. 46  Ian McHarg, "An Ecological Method", in  Theory In Landscape Architecture: A Reader (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 38.


Forman, often described as the ‘father of landscape ecology’, advocates the abstraction of landscape into a patch-corridor-matrix framework, that can be individually examined to understand the dynamics between land and its users. 47,48 The inspection of these individual elements highlights specific ecological issues in the existing and proposed landscapes at West Tey. Habitable patches are contracting, losing land to housing and agriculture; the matrix is undergoing homogenisation due to intensive farming methods; there are few habitable corridors so contracted patches are fragmented. In 2018 the Essex Design Guide was updated and digitised, with many new additions, including the endorsement of the Garden Community Principles and sections devoted to green infrastructure and biodiversity, that draw on corridor principles.49 However, as the primary literary influence on the live NEGCs proposals, ecology remains subordinate to housing and transport. The countryside is green but is not one single shade. Rather, it is a multifaceted mosaic of natural and cultural images. Drawing on the literary positions discussed, the thesis takes the standpoint that the countryside is a semi-natural ‘ecosystem’, and new buildings, towns, and landscapes should be strategically positioned within this system to intensify rural ecology.

47  "Richard T.T. Forman", Gsd.Harvard.Edu, 2019, person/richard-t-t-forman/. 48  Richard T. Forman, Land Mosaics: The Ecology Of Landscapes And Regions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). 49  Essex Planning Officers Association, "Essex Design Guide".



3. WHY DO WE NEED TO ‘GREEN’ THE COUNTRYSIDE? Life has been on Earth for over four billion years and has since evolved into millions of complex species. The World Wide Fund for Nature Living Planet Index 2018, indicates ‘an overall decline of 60% in the population sizes of vertebrates between 1970 and 2014.’ 1 The most substantial factor of this decline was the loss and degradation of habitats, which is a spatial issue caused by the contraction, homogenisation, and fragmentation natural landscapes.2 To examine the existing and propositional landscape at West Tey, landscape is abstracted into mosaic of habitable patches, including remnant woodland, orchards, and lakes; a matrix of farmland and urban land; and corridors, which align to these global issues respectively. Additionally, to tackle the disintegration of people and nature, this analysis seeks to position architecture within the patch-matrix-corridor framework. Discerning the quality of rural nature is the first step to see how ecological urbanism might be developed. This section utilises the existing landscape at West Tey as a point of departure from which to excavate contextual problems to proposed, test, and re-proposed design solutions. The findings are subsequently synthesised into a comprehensive meta-plan that speculates an ecological vision for the North Essex Garden Communities.

1  WWF, Living Planet Report - 2018: Aiming Higher. Grooten, M. and Almond, R.E.A (Eds). (WWF: Gland, 2018), 90-107. 2  Ibid.


Figure 3.1 The process of conversion from arable farmland to new housing in Halstead, Essex.


3.1 Contracted landscapes The immediate ecological problem as a result of greenfield enclosure is the contraction of habitable land. According to the UK Countryside Survey, between 1978 and 2007 there was a long-term decrease in the open countryside by 9.2 per cent, including fields, heaths, moors, and woods.3 As rural habitats shrink or degrade, the abundance and diversity of wildlife are directly affected. To examine the forces exerted on habitats, the rural landscape can be abstracted into habitable patches and an agri-urban matrix, that collectively form a mosaic of land uses. Forman defines a patch as a ‘relatively homogenous nonlinear area that differs from its surroundings’, which at West Tey, mainly consists of fragmented remnants of ancient woodland, orchards, and lakes.4 The section examines the forces that may be exerted on habitable patches by a new settlement, intending to formulate design solutions that reduce these pressures and strengthen the existing patches. The main negative impact on wildlife is intensive farm management, which is given the extent of agricultural land.5,6,7 When visiting rural Essex, the most visually apparent, and most permanent change occurring in the landscape is the conversion of greenfield farmland to housing estates. Between 2013 and 2017 the number of forests, gardens, and other greenfield sites lost to residential developments increased by 58 per cent.8 In North Essex, figure 3.1 illustrates the visual impact of this change on the peripheries of Halstead. Rather than replace habitable land with housing, the inevitable changes that will occur in response to the housing crisis can be used as an opportunity to intensify tenuous rural habitats.

Figure 3.2 Comparitive aerial images before and after greenfield development in Witham, Google Earth 2000,2018.

Witham in 2000

Witham in 2018

Strategic patch enlargement Typically, larger patches contain a greater variety and quality of habitats, resulting in more species diversity and abundance [fig. 3.3].9,10 Patch area requirements are dependent on individual species, context, and the quality of the habitat; in general, larger species

3  Although other habitats remained stagnant and streams improved. P.D Carey et al., Countryside Survey: UK Headline Messages From 2007, (NERC/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, 2008), 18. 4  Forman, Land Mosaics: The Ecology Of Landscapes And Regions, 39. 5  RSPB, State of Nature, 2016, 18. 6  Essex County Council, Essex Chief Executives Association, "Integrated County Strategy Evidence Base: State Of Essex Papers", 2010, 27. 7  RSPB, State of Nature, 2016, 17. 8  Calum McGregor, "Countryside Being Lost To Housing At An Alarming Rate, Despite Increase In Brownfield Development - Campaign To Protect Rural England", CPRE, 2018, brownfield-development. 9 Bentrup, G. 2008. Conservation buffers: design guidelines for buffers, corridors, and greenways. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-109. Asheville, NC: USDA, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 10  Richard Forman and Michel Godron, "Patches And Structural Components For A Landscape Ecology", Bioscience 31, no. 10 (1981): 735

Figure 3.3. Dynamics between patch remnants and the matrix.


require larger patches.11 If two patches have the same area, but human processes had fragmented one, the unified patch would have greater ecological value; as a result, the external pressures would be significantly reduced [fig. 3.3].12 The encroachment of agriculture and urban development on habitats, often reconfigures the edge shape of the patch, creating more extensive and more complex edge conditions [fig. 3.4].13 The patch ‘interior’ is the most habitable area; it is essential for delicate ecosystems that require protection from external forces, that are insulated with the surrounding ‘buffers zones’.14,15 The complexity of the exterior perimeter defines the extent of the interior, thus the less convoluted a patch, the more habitable interior.16

Figure Great Notley, 3.4 Patch Essex, fragmentation population reduces 6,496 [2011 the habitable census] interior.

An example of landscape-scale strategic re-wilding is the Orongo Station masterplan, by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, an ecological intensification project on a former 3,000-acre sheep station on the North Island, New Zealand [fig. 3.6].17 Before colonisation, the native habitat of this region was tropical rainforest, yet unregulated sheep grazing had completely changed the landscape beyond recognition.18 Through strategically retiring portions of the land, using the flow of the topography as a framework, the project re-introduced 500,000 trees, 75 acres of wetlands, cultural gardens, and retained a degree of pastoral farmland. Most impressively, the project restored the endemic Tuatara from near extinction, back into the wild.19 At West Tey, the opportunity for mass landscape reconfiguration through the creation of a new settlement offers the possibility to reshape existing greenspaces. In this context, the morphological process of perimeter simplification may be feasible due to the extent of landscape change.

Reducing the urban footprint Figure 3.5 Speculative patch exterior simplification study.

Figure 3.6 Orongo Sheep station re-wilding project, New Zealand, by NBWLA.


The alternative approach to habitat shrinkage is to reduce threatening pressures. From an architectural perspective, the impact of urbanism on ecology can be reduced. According to the Countryside Survey, the land coverage of buildings in England increased by 3.9 per cent between 1998 and 2007; this change was not significant at a national scale but had a substantial impact on local communities and the surrounding wildlife sites.20 Through reconfiguring the mainstream 11  Ibid. 12  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Conservation Buffers: Design Guidelines For Buffers, Corridors, And Greenways (Asheville, 2008). 13  Forman, Land Mosaics: The Ecology Of Landscapes And Regions, 133. 14  Raphael K Didham, "Ecological Consequences Of Habitat Fragmentation", Encyclopedia Of Life Sciences, 2010. 15  Ibid. 16  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Conservation Buffers: Design Guidelines For Buffers, Corridors, And Greenways (Asheville, 2008). 17  "Orongo Station Conservation Master Plan", Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, accessed 14 March 2018, 18  Author, Pilot Thesis, 25. 19  "Orongo Station Conservation Master Plan", Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. 20  NERC/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Natural England, Countryside Survey: England Results From 2007, 2009, 116.

Figure 3.7 A shared country house and public park typology could replace process of suburbanisation.


distribution of new housing into a compressed footprint, land is saved, and localised habitat loss is reduced. Moreover, the socioeconomic revenue generated from new housing could be re-directed to strengthen the retained landscape ecologically. In Radical Essex, Tim Burrows coined the ‘Essex solitary’ to refer to the eerie sparseness of people and buildings in the Essex landscape, despite the closeness to London.21 A sense of spatial ‘decompression’ exists beyond the limits of the city; the relative emptiness and value of the landscape compared to London, generates a false-justification to build less and further apart. The architectural profession has extensively examined the density of people and buildings, in search of ideal living conditions and cost-efficiency, but the impact of density on nature is less deliberated.22 In reaction to the overcrowded industrial city, Howard’s 1898 ‘garden city’ advocated 25 dwellings per hectare [dph], which was later made a national standard by Raymond Unwin.23,24 Following this standard, rural Essex encountered a proliferation of low-density suburban sprawl, beginning in Romford Garden suburb in 1910 and continuing today with piecemeal estates and the NEGCs.25 According to the most recent Land use change statistics in England report, the average density of new dwellings built on brownfield land is 40 dph, whereas greenfield development is only 26 dph.26 Arguably, in a time of an environmental and housing ‘crisis’, the use of rural land should be no less efficient than that of the city.

Figure 3.8. Land coverage versus density concept

In preventing the contraction of habitats, the thesis aims not to achieve higher dwelling densities per se, but to reduce the footprint of uninhabitable land. Dwellings per hectare do not exclusively determine the architectural morphology or the quantity of surrounding open space; these are measured by comparing the total plot area to the footprint of buildings within the plot [land coverage]. With the same overall density within a plot, low-rise buildings would occupy large areas, while higher-rise buildings would occupy less area. Development based on current garden community principles would convert the existing agricultural matrix into an urban matrix. From the same perspective, if the community is planned at higher densities, the matrix and surrounding patches could be largely retained. In the Plan Voisin, Le Corbusier attempted to increase the amount of open greenspace in 1920s Paris by demolishing and compressing existing residences into high-density towers. He demonstrated the density of a single tower block and immediate landscape as 299 21  Tim Burrows, "The Essex Escape: A Partial History", in Radical Essex (Southend: Focal Point Gallery, 2018), 9. 22  Vicky Cheng, "Understanding Density And High Density", in  Designing High-Density Cities: For Social And Environmental Sustainability, 1st ed. (London: Routledge, 2009), 6. 23  Dwellings per hectare (dph) is the primary measurement of residential

density used by the architectural profession, the Essex design guide, and the government. Figure 3.9. Tower blocks in a semirural context at the Wanstead Flats, photograph by John Rogers, 2017. 32

24  Ebenezer Howard, Frederic James Osborn and Lewis Mumford, Garden Cities Of To-Morrow (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1973), 31. 25  Holland, Radical Essex, 80. 26  Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, "Land Use Change Statistics In England: 2016-17", 2018, 7.

dph, whereas the density of the entire site was 79 dph.27 In theory, the extent of high-density development can be pushed to the limits of current technological capability. One of the highest-density communities in the world is Kowloon Walled City with which is approximately 2,740 dph.28 Although in practice, development to this extent creates large social issues relating to overcrowding. The density of the Barbican is 125dph, including shared parks and gardens; this is a realistic aim for a high-density garden community will have a lower density with a wider contextual boundary. High-rise buildings are typically synonymous with cities, although there are semi-rural precedents such as Sky Tower 41 in Kaminoyama, Japan or Arteveldetoren in Gent, Belgium, or the Fred Wigg and John Walsh towers in the Wanstead Flats [fig. 3.9]. Given that rutopia intends to retain rural characteristics of West Tey, rurality must be differentiated from urbanity. The 1973 Essex Design Guide differentiates the two traditional ‘principles of spatial organisation’ into a rural system and an urban system.29

Figure 3.10 Population - area coverage comparison study

Great Notley, Essex, population 6,496 [2011 census]

‘One system is the low density or rural approach. Here the landscape contains the buildings. Buildings are set in landscaped space. For example, a mansion in its park or a group of farm buildings in their agricultural setting. The key is landscape containing buildings.’ ‘The alternative is the higher density urban approach. Here the previous principle is reversed with buildings containing the space. For example, the streets, squares, alleys and courts - which go to make up the character of our historic villages, towns and cities. The key is buildings containing space.’30 Here, there are two arguably disjointed components: density and containment. In this context, density refers to the spatial compression of people and buildings within a given area, while containment refers to the spatial dominance of buildings and landscape. Failure to distinguish between these principles results in suburbia, which has neither satisfactory enclosure or the prevalence of landscape.31 In terms of habitat reduction, the dominance of nature over artifice in the rural system is favourable, as are the higher densities of the urban system to reduce land coverage. To avoid the spatial indistinctness of suburbia at West Tey, a ‘high-density arcadia’ can be implemented. The essential concept is a freestanding high-density residence enclosed in a dominant landscape.32

27  "The Plan Voisin, Paris", Densityatlas.Org, 2019, 28  "Kowloon Walled City",  Densityatlas.Org, 2019, 29  Essex County Council, A Design Guide for Residential Areas, 61. 30  Ibid, 61. 31  Ibid, 62. 32  Essex Planning Officers Association, "Essex Design Guide",  Essexdesignguide. Co.Uk, 2019,

Barbican, City of London, approx population 4,000

Figure 3.11. Speculative reconfiguration of the Marks Tey estate to high density rural residence within and common parkland 33

23.56 3.64 5.54 5.25 6.32 15.64 24.74 3.01 15.97 6.43 18.52 5.54 13.28 8.57 1.31 31.78 0.29 10.00 4.11 4.92 14.45 4.04 7.23 11.80 19.58 13.37 10.84 15.00 6.75 6.48 34.81 7.68 2.47 19.26 1.66 4.82 3.59 1.39 2.06 6.75 4.64 16.18 2.70 13.97 42.94 12.48 5.93 9.38

Large English Manor Houses Blenheim Palace Buckingham Palace Castle Howard Chatsworth House Hampton Court Palace Kensington Palace

8950 14158 5134 5867 15982 5981

96.24 152.24 55.20 63.09 171.85 64.31

81.80 129.40 46.92 53.62 146.07 54.67

73.62 116.46 42.23 48.26 131.46 49.20

Assuming one resident per bedroom average

26.18 4.04 6.16 5.83 7.02 17.37 27.49 3.35 17.74 7.15 20.58 6.16 14.75 9.52 1.45 35.32 0.32 11.11 4.57 5.47 16.06 4.49 8.03 13.12 21.75 14.85 12.05 16.66 7.50 7.20 38.68 8.54 2.74 21.40 1.85 5.36 3.99 1.54 2.29 7.50 5.15 17.98 3.00 15.52 47.71 13.87 6.59 10.42

Total number of 3 bedroom dwellings

30.80 4.75 7.25 6.86 8.26 20.44 32.34 3.94 20.87 8.41 24.22 7.25 17.35 11.20 1.71 41.55 0.38 13.08 5.38 6.43 18.89 5.28 9.45 15.43 25.59 17.47 14.17 19.60 8.83 8.47 45.51 10.04 3.23 25.17 2.17 6.30 4.70 1.82 2.70 8.83 6.06 21.15 3.53 18.26 56.13 16.31 7.75 12.26

Approx no. of storeys

Circulation and services -10% [m2]

Conversion of GEA to NIA factor 0.85

Audley End Beeleigh Abbey Belchamp Hall Berden Hall Blake Hall, Ongar Boreham House Braxted Park Castle House, Dedham Colchester Castle Coopersale House Copped Hall Creekside Place Cressing Temple Barns Danbury House Dial House Down Hall Dutch Cottage, Rayleigh Dynes Hall Eastbury House, Barking Felix Hall Gosfield Hall Great Ruffins Hadleigh Castle [Remains] Hedingham Castle and house Hill Hall Hylands House Ingatestone Hall Layer Marney Tower Leez Priory Markshall, Coggeshall Michealstowe Hall Moyn's Park Orford House, Ugley Orsett Hall Paycockes Prittlewell Priory Sailing Hall Shalom Hall Southchurch Hall, Southend Spains Hall Stanstead Castle Stanstead Hall Sturgeons House Terling Place Thorndon Hall Tilbury Fort Valentine's Mansion Westwood Park

Approx. Footprint 2864 442 674 638 768 1901 3008 366 1941 782 2252 674 1614 1042 159 3864 35 1216 500 598 1757 491 879 1435 2380 1625 1318 1823 821 788 4232 934 300 2341 202 586 437 169 251 821 564 1967 328 1698 5220 1517 721 1140

Country Manors in Essex


No. of 3 bedroom dwellings [RIBA space standards] / 93 m2

Method: ordnance survey footprint of large historic residences in Essex, divided by the RIBA space standards for 3 bedroom dwellings [93m2], minus 10 per cent for servicing and circulation, multiplied by the approximate number of storeys, approximately equals the number of dwellings.

Exterior building OS boundaries [m2]

Figure. 3.12 How many dwellings can fit into an Essex country house?

3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 4 2 3 2 2 2 2 3 1 3 3 3 3 2 0 3 3 2 3 4 2 2 2 3 3 2 2 2 2 3 2 3 1 3 2 2 2 1 3 3

No. of dwellings 71 11 17 16 19 31 49 6 64 13 56 11 27 17 3 95 0 30 12 15 43 8 0 35 59 27 33 60 14 13 70 23 7 39 3 10 7 4 4 20 5 49 5 28 86 12 18 28

No. of residents 212 33 50 47 57 94 148 18 192 39 167 33 80 51 8 286 1 90 37 44 130 24 0 106 176 80 98 180 41 39 209 69 22 116 10 29 22 13 12 61 14 146 16 84 258 37 53 84

2 3 3 3 3 3

147 349 127 145 394 148

442 1048 380 434 1183 443


Audley End

Beeleigh Abbey

Belchamp Hall

Berden Hall

Blake Hall, Ongar

Boreham House

Braxted Park

Castle House, Dedham

Colchester Castle

Coopersale House

Copped Hall

Creekside Place

Cressing Temple Barns

Danbury Palace

Dial House

Down Hall

Dutch Cottage, Rayleigh

Dynes Hall

Eastbury House, Barking

Felix Hall

Gosfield Hall

Great Ruffins

Hadleigh Castle [Remains]

Hedingham Castle & House

Hill Hall

Hylands House

Ingatestone Hall

Layer Marney Tower

Leez Priory

Markshall, Coggeshall

Michaelstowe Hall

Moyn's Park

Orford House, Ugley

Orsett Hall


Prittlewell Priory

Sailing Hall

Shalom Hall

Southchurch Hall, Southend

Spains Hall

Stansted Castle

Stansted Hall

Sturgeons House

Terling Place

Thorndon Hall

Tilbury Fort

Valentine's Mansion

Westwood Park




From housing estates to country estates

Figure 3.13 Local precedents: Audley End, a grand Jacobean prodigy estate near Saffron Walden.

Figure 3.14 High-density residential architecture does not have to resemble the urban tower block.

Large residential architecture is not solely endemic to cities; there is a typology of high-density residence that exists in the rural landscape: the English country house. There are many forms of estate: houses, palaces, halls, priories, and forts, but the essence of which is a large mansion block within a parkland estate. Of course, the historical intention of the country estate was to house a noble family, but it was also home to many servants and guests. Many estates were arguably villages within their own right, with businesses, schools, libraries, halls, and parks. The built footprint of suburban estates can be compressed into shared country estates, thus retaining rural character, potentially reducing the quantity of land acquisition, and retaining land for natural uses.33 The mansion block and park typology permits high-density without high-rise. One of the grandest European residences, the palace of Versailles, at the peak of Louis XIV’s reign, hosted between 3,000 to 10,000 people each day.34 For reference, that is a larger population than the town of Thaxted (2,845 in 2011 census). Figure 3.15 is a speculative study that indicatively divides the footprint of Blenheim Palace into 95 single-storey three-bedroom flats, averaging at approximately 95m2 each. Based on this arrangement and the multiplication of two generous storeys, indicates that 190 dwellings could reasonably occupy the volume of this country house, demonstrating a footprint density of 212 dph, which requires eight times less land than typical greenfield construction [26 dph].35,36

Figure. 3.15 Speculative study arbitrarily dividing Blenheim palace into single storey three bedroom flats, averaging at approximately 95m2 each. 33  Cheng, 9. 34  "Courtiers", Palace Of Versailles, 2019, history/key-dates/courtiers. 35  This study does not account for the complex three-dimensional form of the palace; the main body of the palace has three double-height storeys, while the subsidiary wings have fewer, volumetrically these calculations are a reasonable approximation. Moreover, this is an arbitrary area study that does not account for circulation, servicing, emergency access, or escape spaces. Additionally, the study assumes one bedroom per person. 36  Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, "Land Use Change Statistics In England: 2016-17", 2018, 7.


Figure 3.12 is an alternative method that estimates additional wall thickness and circulation; the same building substantiates 147 dwellings, which equates to 164 dph. It is feasible to conclude from these studies that a shared country estate could be a land saving alternative to the suburban typology.

As a hybrid of the English country house, the suburban housing estate, and the garden village, the distribution of dwellings, services, and residents requires careful consideration. To successfully create a garden community, a mixture of tenures and housing types are required.40 The residence incorporates a mixture of terrace housing, single, and multi-storey apartments, with a variety of freehold, commonhold, rented, and partially-owned options, that are attainable through the management of a central housing trust. Access to dwellings may vary, incorporating public access terraces, shared lift cores, double-loaded corridors, and private ground floor access [fig. 3.16]. A deep-plan morphology will reduce the perimeter of the residence, which can be punctuated with a series of courtyards and wings to retain solar access and views into shared public spaces and the rural landscape beyond. Building at higher densities means people and services are closer together thus access to people and services requires travelling shorter distances. The block layout could centre around a ‘village green’, that embeds the architecture into the landscape, around which shops, pubs, schools, village halls, emergency services, leisure facilities, cultural centres, doctors’ surgeries, and other services can be implemented at the ground level, with larger services established in the neighbouring parkland. Parking and vehicular access may be permitted via a central axis, leading into a podium beneath the ground floor of the ‘village green’. The live West Tey proposal consists of 24,000 new homes. Drawing on Gibberd’s vision for the delivery of Harlow, the new 37  "Oak (Quercus Robur) - Woodland Trust", Woodlandtrust.Org.Uk, 2019, https:// 38  "Nairn Across Britain: From Leeds Into Scotland", TV programme (1: BBC, 1990). 39  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Conservation Buffers: Design Guidelines For Buffers, Corridors, And Greenways (Asheville, 2008), 93. 40  "Garden City Principles", Town And Country Planning Association, 2019, https://





TERRACE Private terrace

Relevant access typologies for a high-density shared country estate

To retain rurality, there are density limitations. In accordance with the rural system, in addition to the footprint, the vertical composition must also be dominated by landscape; thus, the height of architecture must be below the treeline. The archetypal local tree, the English oak can grow to 20m-40m tall, providing a practical height guideline for the residence.37 The residence may have more storeys than the English country house, as the double height spaces of the grand palaces are not required at the residential scale. Given that the typical two-storey house is approximately six metres tall, this is a significant imposition on the landscape; thus, to abide by the ‘two-way responsibility’ of the view, tree coverage can protect the vistas from the adjacent villages.38,39 Crucially, this height restriction empowers a connection between residents at the top of the building and nature at ground level. The integration of residents and the landscape is paramount.




Deck access terrace


Mansion block


Tenement block


Doubleloaded corridor


Figure. 3.16 Rudimental dwelling typologies, differentiated by access type. 37

Retained visual and physical access to the countryside

Majority of the agricultural matrix is retained

New residences as a human based patch

Existing views are retained


community can be configured into ‘neighbourhoods’, clustering dwellings into interconnected estates of 1000-2000 dwellings, each with their own identities and services [fig. 3.18].

Expanding landscapes There is both a moral and human need to save rural land for systems other than housing. For architects, it is essential to ensure that new urbanism does not inflict damage or contract natural habitats. In planning a new settlement, land use change can be harnessed to protect and strategically expand existing greenspaces. Greenfield development should be contained where possible. The residential typology speculated, ranges from a practical village with a higher than average compactness, such as Goldhawke village by Peter Barber, to a hypothetical shared Blenheim palace within a common parkland. The more radical end relies on a degree of communitarianism, although a sense of individualism can be implemented with dwelling-scale design interventions. The speculative propositions do not prescribe a particular form or programme but highlight a series of design considerations to reduce the ecological footprint of urbanism. The research studies indicate that new development can be compressed into high-density blocks, and retain the rural character of the area, consequently saving land for nature.

Figure 3.18 Gibberd’s plan for Harlow, divided into Neighbourhoods.

Figure 3.19 Speculative design sketches for a high-density rural typology

Overleaf Figure 3.17 Speculative greenspace expansion plan Existing Simple Uniform Independent Unstable High-entropy

Complex Diverse Interdependent Stable Low-entropy


Figure 3.20 Homogeneous intensive farmland near Marks Tey


3.2 Homogenous landscapes In planning a new settlement, key patches will be retained as discussed in section 3.1; therefore, the matrix is the region that will undergo the most change. The matrix is the predominant form of land cover that is highly connected and controls the dynamics within a region – it is the surrounding fabric in which patches and corridors exist.41 In the context of West Tey, the existing matrix is intensive arable land with the live proposition to convert this to urban land. In developing a high-density townscape typology, the product is additional land area; this section will explore how to best occupy that land. The image of English farmland consists of thick hedgerows filled with yellowhammers and skylarks, with brown hares darting through the fields, and margins scattered with wildflowers.42 Although, the agricultural matrix is not as ‘green’ as might appear. Major habitats are generally well-protected in the UK, but greenspaces that are not considered of national importance are at risk of ecological homogenisation, from intensive farming and increasing urbanisation.43 As the population increases, as does the demand for more food and homes, thus, to meet those demands, additional forces are exerted on natural habitats. A hostile agri-urban mosaic damages the edges of corridors and patches with seeds, dust, pollution, human activity, and heat; the matrix thus distorts, invades, and often replaces enclosed habitats.44,45 The agricultural matrix is becoming increasingly homogeneous thus gradually unhabitable.46 Nationally, between 1970 and 2016, the abundance and occupancy of farmland species declined by 20%.47 The intensive practice of monocropping is progressively prevalent in the North Essex region; this is a practice of growing the same crop species with limited rotation or fallowing. Globally, there are approximately 400,000 species of plants, 300,000 of which are conceivably edible, yet less than 20 species make up 90% of the UK diet due to taste and ease of cultivation.48 Agricultural machinery is mostly tailored to specific crops, e.g. the method of harvesting sugar beet is different from wheat; from this perspective is it economically logical to farm fewer and more similar crops. Intensive farming methods are highly reliant on agrichemicals to balance the delicate artificial ecosystems, including synthetic fertilisers, to provide additional nutrients to the soil, and pesticides to exclose any biodiversity that threatens the crop yield. Additionally, the simplification of crop rotations means there is

Figure 3.21 Agrichemicals near Little Tey

Richard T. Forman, Land Mosaics: The Ecology Of Landscapes And Regions, 277.


42  The Wildlife Trusts, "Farmland", Wildlifetrusts.Org, 2019, 43  Essex Wildlife Trust, "Farmland",  Essexwt.Org.Uk, accessed 11 March 2019, 44  Forman, Land Mosaics: The Ecology Of Landscapes And Regions, 281. 45  Ibid. 46  "Farmland",  Essex Wildlife Trust, 2018,


47  RSPB, State of nature, 2016, 17. 48  Plants For A Future, "Edible Uses", Pfaf.Org, 2019,


Figure 3. 22 2018 Google Earth aerial photograph overlaid with 1846 Ordnance Survey map

less fallow land, as land is in production for more extended periods and advances in technology enable more rapid harvesting and sowing; thus, more fields are under the same conditions at the same time. This concentration of a single crop is in the unique position to be rapidly eliminated by disease or opportunistic species, as happened during the 1840s Irish potato famine. The spatial manifestation is the replacement of local nuanced plants, methods, and materials, with the repetition of a few desirable species across the national landscape. In many regions through England, landscape homogeneity is occurring in many new residential landscapes, through the reproduction of standardised forms and materials. Nairn first noted this process in the 1950s, although it persists today amidst the neo-liberal political climate and the UK’s ‘housing crisis’.49

New developer home built in 2018, Witham, North Essex

New developer home built by a different developer, over 200 miles away in 2018, in Lyme Regis, West Dorset.

The two houses in figure 3.22 were built in 2018 by different developers and are sited 200 miles apart, one in Witham, in central Essex, the other in Lyme Regis, in West Dorset. Both locations have vastly differing geological and ecological conditions, with divergent natural landscapes and architectural vernaculars. Despite this, the material and spatial palette are highly similar, including, burnt clay bricks, slate roofs, sandstone paving, tarmac, and turfed lawns. These houses are speculative developments that are not tailored for particular individuals, thus are designed in a standardised manner to appeal to a broader national market. The ecological impact is less material variation in the built landscape, reducing habitat diversity. This form of urbanism in the countryside is eroding the nuances of the local environment and culture.

Changing land-use and material condition To attain landscape heterogeneity, new material conditions and land uses will diversify the existing agricultural matrix. An immediate deduction is that the quantity of habitable land area needs to increase. However, this process is not as simple as dedicating more land for natural ‘uses’, as this will be at the expense of other land uses. Small scale, site-specific reconfigurations can increase the habitable area of land. In Essex, these processes include the tactical retirement of farmland and the introduction of new habitable areas within urban areas. Another point of view is to retain the productivity of the countryside. In 2016, the UK exported approximately ‘£20 billion of food, feed and drink’, yet imported £43 billion meaning that the UK has a significant trade deficit in this sector.50 In order not to further this deficit, the productivity of agricultural land should arguably be retained where possible. In a service-based economy, the production of physical goods is a necessity for security. Although, with increasing 49  Ian Nairn, Outrage. (London: Architectural Press, 1956), 355. 50  House of Commons Library,  Briefing Paper No. 7974: Brexit: Agriculture And Trade (London, 2019), 6.


research into vertical farming, this option may be retired in the near future. Environmental stewardship offers a compromise between productivity and environmental conservation. On Sunnymead Farm, an arable farm near Wivenhoe, and the Colchester-Tendring Borders Garden Community is an example of a successful agroecological farm, that is both a productive and habitable landscape.51 The farm maintains semi-natural habitat patches that provide shelter and nutrients for wildlife and the use of pesticides and fertilisers has been minimised, increasing the habitability of the matrix. Environmental stewardship schemes, like Sunnymead, are mutually financed by the EU Common Agricultural Policy [CAP] and the UK Government. Agreements are made with individual farmers, whereby payments are calculated by the cost of implementing conservation processes and compensation for yield losses. Options differ, but the goal is to conserve the ground condition, retain ecological and historic features, and increase the habitable area.52 The forerunners of these government schemes were first launched in the 1980s [Countryside Stewardship in England], although, given the current political state of Brexit, it remains unknown how these policies will continue in the future.53 It is unclear whether environmental stewardship schemes can be sustainably implemented nationwide due to cost, and the inverse correlation in yield productivity. The proposal of a new settlement requires supplementary land uses to sustain the community, including private gardens, public parks, allotments, playing fields, cemeteries, school grounds, village greens, golf courses, and industrial land, all of which have varying material conditions. The ecological possibilities of urban greenspaces should not be overlooked as they account for more than half of the UK land area designated ‘urban’.54 The preponderance of urban nature does not actively seek-out human development; instead, wildlife survives in the multi-functional fragmented ‘non-spaces’ between artifices.55,56 Nationwide landscape heterogeneity can be achieved through articulating local material, geological, and environmental conditions, that express the individual distinctions from region to region, e.g. in Essex, the stone curlew is only found in Uttlesford due to the prevalence of semi-natural chalk grassland, differentiating it from the contiguous districts.57 Future change of use, brought about by urbanisation may indeed increase the ecological value of this region. The additional land uses required to service a new town have the potential to diversify the matrix into a complex mosaic of environmental conditions, with the capacity to provide a greater variety of habitats. 51  52  53  54  55  56  57 

State of Nature Report 2016, RSPB, 2016. Ibid. Ibid. State of nature report 2016, RSPB 2016, 42. State of nature report Marc Augé, Non-Places (London: Verso, 1995). Essex County Council, Essex Biodiversity Action Plan, 1999.


Figure 3.23 Contemporary google Earth photograph and historic survey overlay


Diversity through re-enclosure A critical dimension of heterogeneity is the morphological pattern of the land. In England, ‘enclosure’ is a multifaceted term referring to the legal and spatial reconfiguration of land. The ‘Inclosure Acts’ between 1604 and 1914 endorsed the consolidation of feudal open field systems and common land into large individual farms.58 Spatially, communal land became hedged and fenced off; the resulting pattern largely defines the matrix today. Figure 3.23 overlays the earliest ordnance survey of the site at West Tey, from the 1880s, with an aerial photograph from 2018. Following the ‘Inclosure Acts’, this figure highlights two discernible morphological processes: field unification and urban enclosure. The first process is the unification of agricultural land, caused by the loss of hedgerows and field margins to create vast commercial farms. To ensure that post-war Britain was self-sufficient in food, the Agricultural Act 1947 advocated the removal of hedgerows, including financial incentives, as machinery could not easily manoeuvre in small fields.59 It is widely documented that this policy went too far; new laws and grants are now in place to protect marginal habitats.60 A survey by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology [ITE] revealed that between 1984 and 1990, hedgerows in England declined in length by 20 per cent.61 Hedgerows are a crucial habitat for rural wildlife; they provide delineated sheltered enclosures that reduce water and wind erosion by preventing fields from losing soil.62 Field unification reduces heterogeneity through repeating planted conditions across larger landscapes with fewer protected margins. Secondly, the enclosure of agricultural land to housing estates formulates new legal and spatial borders. Legally, the land is divided into smaller freehold plots, decreasing public accessibility. Spatially, new walls, fences, and hedgerows reduces both physical and visual access to the plot and the countryside beyond. However, ecologically, enclosure into private gardens may diversify the habitable conditions, providing a variety of new shelters for small species, thus, potentially enriching biodiversity. In contrast to agricultural land, the enclosed urban condition, and the array of materials, provides a myriad of habitat types for certain small dynamic species, such as garden birds and frogs, although these spaces are less suitable for larger species.

Figure 3.24 Coarse-grain landscape with micro-habitats

58  "Enclosing The Land", UK Parliament, 2019, living-heritage/transformingsociety/towncountry/landscape/overview/enclosingland. 59  "A History Of Hedges", RSPB, 2019, 60  Ibid. 61  Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Changes In Hedgerows In Britain Between 1984 And 1990, 1991. 62  Tony Fawcett, "Better Protection For Hedgerows - Campaign To Protect Rural England", Cpre.Org.Uk, 2019, hedgerows/the-issues.


Habitat heterogeneity occurs on a scalar spectrum from fine-grain to coarse-grain enclosure. A fine-grain mosaic is composed primarily of small patches, while a coarse grain mosaic is composed of large patches.63 Although, all habitats are heterogeneous at some scale; at the coarsest level, Earth can be divided into two patches: terrestrial and aquatic.64 In differentiating heterogeneity, fine-grain variation exists within coarse-grain conditions. An area of woodland may represent coarse-grain heterogeneity, but even within this patch further climatic, material, and spatial variation exists as micro-corridors and micropatches, e.g. within woodland, deer may graze within open clearings, whereas dense coppiced bracken would provide shelter for songbirds [fig 3.24].65,66 Habitat diversity is best defined relative to a particular organism, e.g. a kestrel has greater mobility than a spider; thus, the degree of species movement defines the perception of environmental heterogeneity.67 The grain of human perception generally aligns to the administrative classification of land uses.68 When planning an ecologically diverse community, the requirements of every local species cannot be individually designed for, but the spatial nuances of micropatches may be emphasised, and a variety of naturalistic conditions may be restored. Through planning a new settlement, a unique opportunity arises – to reconfigure the pattern of the land. This is an opportunity to integrate natural and cultural processes into a single network. Tunnard’s critique of the ‘butcher method’, demonstrates the modernist, and continually mainstream conception of landscape as free-flowing open land centred around the paradigm of extensive multifunctionality.69 Jane Jacobs contends modernism, noting that users will shun expansive spaces; successful landscape needs to be diversified into complex intensive enclosures that are tailored to the ranging scales of its users.70 Therefore Modernism and postmodernism advocate coarse-grain and fine-grain settings respectively. Drawing on the idealised hierarchy of first, second, and third nature in the English landscape garden, at West Tey a graduated bricolage of fine-grain and coarse grain land uses, that radially increase in spatial intricacy towards urban interventions, could provide the varying habitat requirements for biodiversity. Employing, McHarg’s notion to ‘design with nature’, the existing topographical, geological, and ecological systems provides a contextualised base from which to develop a planning framework. Like Howard’s original ‘garden city’ concept, this gradient aligns with the new land uses required to sustain a community. Intensive enclosed gardens, allotments, churchyards, Figure 3.25 Diversification through enclosures design speculations.


63  Richard T. Forman, Land Mosaics: The Ecology Of Landscapes And Regions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 10. 64  Didham, 1. 65  Massimo Pigliucci, "Environmental Heterogeneity: Temporal And Spatial", Encyclopedia Of Life Sciences, 2001, 1. 66  Forman, Land Mosaics: The Ecology Of Landscapes And Regions, 281. 67  Pigliucci, 1. 68  Ibid. 69  Hebbert, "Re-Enclosure Of The Urban Picturesque: Green-Space Transformations In Postmodern Urbanism", 32. 70  Jane Jacobs,  The Death And Life Of Great American Cities, 1961 (New York: Vintage Books, 2016).

and schools surround the urban core; recreational space and industrial land follow suit; while agriculture surrounds new development, remaining the most extensive landscape.

Boundary conditions Movement between habitats is not exclusively desirable. Partitioning landscape into enclosed habitats can reduce the threat of invasive species, disease dispersal, pollution, and human disturbance. The most damaging invasive species in Essex, include Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam, and Floating pennywort.71 The degree of movement is dependent on the permeability and type of the enclosure boundary. Habitat isolation may be implemented to protect vulnerable species. Locally, Mersea Island in Essex re-introduced red squirrels into the wild in 2012, which was possible due to the spatial separation from invasive grey squirrels on the mainland.72,73 Although this is a true depiction of the ‘island effect’, at West Tey, a series of architectural design devices may be employed to create semipermeable edge conditions that permit certain instances of access, while restricting others. In terms of human access, enclosure may prevent physical access to land, yet visual access may be retained. In The Picturesque Garden in France, Dora Wiebenson highlights the eighteenth-century planning method of varying levels and establishing of ‘screens’ that created the appearance that urban enclosures were more extensive than the actual area.74 Although not physically accessible, the boundary conditions visually extend the private and public realms into one another. The same principle may be applied with ditches, treelines, hedgerows, grilles, colonnades, podiums, and the English ‘ha-ha’ between various land uses and habitats in Essex [fig. 3.26]. Given the sprawling nature of urban development, in order to prevent the future loss of diversity, it is essential to formalise these boundary conditions. Essex is moderately flat; thus, topographical modification may be a useful design device for artificial habitat diversification. Peaks and troughs in the landscape will create varying micro-climactic conditions, preferable for varied species. Raised areas will have more exposure to the sun, while lower areas will be shaded; peaks will have drier ground conditions due to runoff and filtration, while troughs are likely to collect water and sediment; and either side of hills will be exposed or sheltered from the wind. Beeleigh Falls, near Maldon, is a local precedent of a semi-natural landscape, topographically separated by a series of human-made flood defences [fig. 3.27]. The freshwater River Chelmer and River Blackwater amalgamate at a weir which drops in height to form the tidal brackish estuary, leading to

Figure 3.26 Boundary conditions sketch.

Figure 3.27 Beeleigh Falls, Essex.

Figure 3.28 Diversity through topographical change sketches

71  "Invasive Species", Essex Biodiversity Project, 2012, http://www.essexbiodiversity. 72  "Essex Island Home To England’s Rarest Mammal", Wild Essex, 2016, http:// 73  Author, Pilot thesis, 25. 74  Dora Wiebenson, The Picturesque Garden In France (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1978), 111.



the Heybridge Basin; the combination of contour and salinity change creates a plethora of riparian, freshwater, and brackish habitable conditions.75

Towards a diverse mosaic In natural landscapes, biodiversity has typically adapted to the patchiness of available habitats over extended periods, yet this has not generally been the case in anthropogenically modified landscapes.76 Humans have been degrading the habitable environment at increasingly exponential rates, surpassing the adaptability of most species to the availability and sporadicity of habitats.77 Habitat homogenisation is an expression of spatial standardisation caused by the rapid human alteration of the landscape. The construction of a new garden community on greenfield land, may catalyse ecological heterogeneity. The propositions to reconfigure the pattern of the matrix, do not prescribe a definitive morphology but highlight a series of design considerations to intensify the contextual nuances and ecologically diversify land.

Overleaf Figure 3.29 Speculative greenspace diversification plan Existing Simple Uniform Independent

75  Author, Pilot thesis, 23. 76  Didham. 77  N. Myers and A. H. Knoll, "The Biotic Crisis And The Future Of Evolution", Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences 98, no. 10 (2001): 5389-5392, doi:10.1073/pnas.091092498.

Unstable High-entropy

Complex Diverse Interdependent Stable Low-entropy


Figure 3.30 Fragmented woodland, part of the ‘Braintree Borders’ ‘garden community’ site.


3.3 Fragmented landscapes Landscape fragmentation is the division of a large continuous territory into a series of smaller patches, which are isolated by a matrix of dissimilar environments, resulting in overall habitat loss.78 What remains of natural habitats in Essex are disjointed remnants of a previously continuous woodland, following centuries of agricultural and urban enclosure. The remaining remnants are small wildlife-rich sanctuaries, isolated in a hostile matrix of productive landscapes, that are often impermeable for many species. Conservation in the UK has conventionally focused on protecting specific wildlife-rich habitats, but beyond these areas, habitats have declined at a record rate. 79,80 In his review Making Space For Nature, Sir John Lawton noted that England’s wildlife sites have proven essential in conserving habitats, but they are now too small and too fragmented to sustainably conserve wildlife.81 As a spatial issue as a result of human activity, designers and developers have a duty to collude with nature rather disregard the intrinsic importance of a symbiotic relationship. As consumption rates and the population increases, the removal and bisection of habitats for the purpose of infrastructure, urban development, and agriculture, continues to persist throughout England. 82 Urbanisation is particularly problematic for Essex, due to the closeness to London. In building a new settlement, the material conversion from planted ground to tarmac and concrete will significantly harden the agricultural matrix, and for many species increase fragmentation. However, if planned successfully, the settlement will include ‘green infrastructure’ that retains the connectivity between habitats.

Green infrastructure In the NEGC Charter, the first principle is ‘green infrastructure’.83 I asked the Managing Director of NEGC ltd. Richard Bayley to elaborate what this means spatially for the new communities, he said: “We are not planning one continuous centre – we are talking about a place with a series of different communities that are connected. Part of that connection is green infrastructure in all its different guises.” … “Green infrastructure is about breaking up the continuing development in a sensible way, creating places to relax, for recreation, and areas people can enjoy, so it becomes a place that people feel more attracted to e.g. public realm, parks, and water

78  Didham, 2. 79  Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Making Space For Nature: A Review Of England’s Wildlife Sites And Ecological Network (London, 2019). 80  "Living Landscapes",  Wildlifetrusts.Org, 2019, about-us/vision-and-mission/living-landscapes. 81  DEFRA,  Making Space For Nature: A Review Of England’s Wildlife Sites And Ecological Network, 2019, viii. 82  Ibid. 83  AECOM, “North Essex Garden Communities: Garden Communities Charter”, 2016, 5.


features” … “And indeed, places where you would expect nature to still exist; country parks and nature reserves.” 84 What is key to Bayley’s point, is the spatial division of impermeable urban areas into smaller communities, creating a series of landscape corridors between the neighbourhoods, allowing nature to remain connected, and subsequently providing a pleasant green environment for the residents.

Landscape corridors Landscape corridors are narrow patches of land that differ from the surrounding matrix.85 The implementation of these linear landscapes enables connectivity between patches.86,87 From an ecological standpoint, corridors play an essential part in relinking fragmented habitats, allowing biodiversity to move through the landscape, and are therefore vital in natural conservation.88 From a socio-cultural standpoint, corridors link disjointed sites of human value including homes, work spaces, recreational spaces, and cultural heritage sites.89 Landscape corridors may take a number of forms depending on their intended use, including cultural corridors, cultural routes, greenways, and ecological corridors.90 A network of landscape corridors is a useful approach to connect a range of green, blue, and urban spaces within a region.

Figure 3.31 Connectivity with a rural corridor network.

The Government endorsed Living Landscape scheme by the Wildlife Trusts is a county-wide ‘landscape scale’ programme, aiming to create habitats that are more biodiverse and more joined up.91,92 The Essex Wildlife Trust owns and manage many nature reserves, yet the Living Landscapes project emerged from the fact that conservation needed to extend beyond wildlife sanctuaries and into the wider countryside.93 Through working with a range of partners and landowners the Essex Living Landscapes plan proposes to form a county-wide network composed of broad search corridors. It proposes to connect and restore major sites of special scientific interest [SSSIs], nature reserves, key mosaic habitats, ancient woodland, and other local wildlife sites through qualitatively enriching the agricultural matrix. This large84  Richard Bayley, Details for the North Essex Garden Communities, interview by Author, Essex, 2019. 85  Richard T. T Forman and Michel Godron, Landscape Ecology (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1986), 123. 86  Daniel K. Rosenberg, Barry R. Noon and E. Charles Meslow, "Biological Corridors: Form, Function, And Efficacy", Bioscience 47, no. 10 (1997): 677-687. 87  Mark Dixon, "Corridor Ecology: The Science And Practice Of Linking Landscapes For Biodiversity Conservation", The Condor 109, no. 3 (2007): 715, 5. 88  M. Hoppert et al., "The Saale-Unstrut Cultural Landscape Corridor", Environmental Earth Sciences77, no. 3 (2018), 58. 89  Grzegorz Mikusiński et al., "Integrating Ecological, Social And Cultural Dimensions In The Implementation Of The Landscape Convention", Landscape Research 38, no. 3 (2013): 384-393. 90  Haiyun Xu, Tobias Plieninger and Jørgen Primdahl, "A Systematic Comparison Of Cultural And Ecological Landscape Corridors In Europe", Land 8, no. 3 (2019): 41, 3. 91  Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Natural Environment White Paper (London, 2018). 92  "Living Landscapes",  Wildlifetrusts.Org, 2019, about-us/vision-and-mission/living-landscapes. 93  Ibid.


scale approach is highly ambitions, requiring the cooperation of many individual landowners. Inevitably it will not succeed in all instances, but it has the potential to re-establish significant tracts of rural habitats. Additionally, due to the scale of the scheme there is potential to ‘re-wild’ keystone species. However, the extent to which the network intends to integrate with urban settlements or provide human access is yet undefined. In addition to the broad Living Landscapes proposal, as the countryside becomes increasingly fragmented and uninhabitable at West Tey, a fine-grain corridor network could be implemented. Drawing on propositions for corridor networks in cities with impermeable matrices, such as Frederick Law Olmstead’s 1894 Emerald Necklace in Boston, and Tom Turner’s greenways for London, a ‘patch-and-corridor’ morphology would enable the connectivity of existing habitats in balance with the new agri-urban matrix. Through strategically re-establishing and expanding of historic hedgerows, field margins, existing riparian landscapes, and the formulation of new corridors existing habitats would become de-fragmented. Additionally, the fine-grain framework allows urban processes and an extent of agriculture to continue. Moreover, this proposition requires less land ownership and consequentially less management than the living landscapes. Going forward to building the string of NEGCs, a hierarchical corridor network can inform regional and local ‘green infrastructure’. Regional corridors may be developed as a backbone to the system, connecting various settlements and significant patches, onto which local corridors and greenways can serve the everyday needs of users such as recreation commuting and everyday access to nature.

Greenways The salient difference between corridors and greenways is in the intended usage; corridors target the conservation of biodiversity, while greenways additionally focus on human use.94 Tom Turner defines a greenway as “a route which is good from an environmental point of view.”95 At West Tey, it is essential to establish a human presence within the wider landscape, to add value to the land, improve wellbeing, and increase the typical human understanding of rural nature. To spatialise a symbiotic human-natural ecosystem, a network of greenways may be amalgamated into the corridor network.

Figure 3.32 A spur trail and a hide, to enable interaction and protect wildlife from the bustle of the main trail.

Firstly, greenways should be easily accessible from the new community to encourage users to integrate with the landscape; in topographically diverse areas, greenways should follow existing contours to maintain this access. To prevent further fragmentation and avoid sensitive habitat, greenways can be aligned to the edges of patches and 94  Xu et al., "A Systematic Comparison Of Cultural And Ecological Landscape Corridors In Europe", 20019, 3. 95  Tom Turner, Landscape Planning And Environmental Impact Design (Routledge, 2004).



corridors. ‘Hides’ and ‘spur trails’ may be added to provide human access to sensitive habitats, through offsetting the contact point from the pedestrian and cycling traffic on the greenway [fig. 3.32].96 Moreover, greenways within corridors and patches should be kept as narrow as possible to reduce additional fragmentation.97 Drawing on the visual criteria within the 1973 Essex Design Guide, certain aesthetic attributes of landscape can be objectified.98 The English picturesque landscape culturally ingrained a series of common aesthetic elements, to appear as visually pleasant such as manicured lawns, savanna and park-like landscapes, trees in proportion with the surrounding features, absence of dead vegetation, clear waterways with no debris, large mature trees, and space defined at a humanscale. However, not all of these elements are directly compatible with the requirements of ecology thus an alternative aesthetic must be defined.99 In contrast, unsullied naturalistic landscapes include dense vegetation, debris, and have a variety of habitable niches; cultural these landscapes may be perceived as visually untidy, in contrast to manicured landscapes that reflect order and the stewardship of the owners. The challenge is to formulate an aesthetic that combines ecological functions of patches and corridors with cultural desirability. Greenways passing through open tracts of land with few trees or distinguishing features are less visually and ecologically interesting; rather transitions between enclosures and open land is preferable [fig. 3.35].100 Drawing on the jardin à la française and the English picturesque landscape, a combination of direct axial and curvilinear greenways allows for both efficiency and ecological exploration. Vantage points and belvederes may be implemented, where users can view wildlife, other people, architecture, and any other distinguishing landscape features.

Dispersal In certain instances, there is a disparity between landscape defragmentation and the diversified portioning of habitats.101 Poorly considered corridors may facilitate the dispersal of problems such as invasive species, parasitism, fire, and disease. There are a number of landscape design techniques can be deployed to overcome these issues in varying conditions. The first technique is to create spatial breaks in the corridors, although this is highly species and site dependent [fig. 3.36]. Secondly, avoid continuous ribbons of the same vegetation and material, instead create diverse linear mosaics; this enables the required permeability, provides a material break and diversifies the network.102

Figure 3.34. Moderate visual greenway preference

Figure 3.35. High visual greenway preference

Overleaf Figure 3.33 Speculative greenspace corridor network plan. Existing Simple

96  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Conservation Buffers: Design Guidelines For Buffers, Corridors, And Greenways, 2008, 101. 97  Ibid. 98  Essex County Council,  A Design Guide for Residential Areas  (Tiptree: Anchor Press Ltd., 1973), 61. 99  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Conservation Buffers: Design Guidelines For Buffers, Corridors, And Greenways, 2008, 96. 100  Ibid, 104. 101  Author, Pilot Thesis, 27. 102  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Conservation Buffers: Design Guidelines For Buffers, Corridors, And Greenways, 2008.

Uniform Independent Unstable High-entropy

Complex Diverse Interdependent Stable Low-entropy


Thirdly, topographical and architecture interventions can create sitespecific spatial barriers. Fourthly, in conditions where there are many adjacent fragmented patches, ‘stepping stones’ can be created between larger patches, although this requires a permeable matrix, and the retention of all of the patches but is suitable agricultural landscapes [fig. 3.37].103,104

Infrastructural ‘pinch points’

Figure 3.36 Tackling dispersal with spatial breaks and altering ground condition.

Figure 3.37 Stepping stones

The existing West Tey site is bisected by a railway as well as the A120 and A12 major roads. Although this infrastructure is integral to the location and success of the new community, it poses significant ecological and recreational restriction to many species as well as residents. In these instances, permeable ‘wildlife crossings’ may be provided through culverts, overpasses, and underpasses. The effectiveness of these artifices are highly site-specific, due to the differences in habitat type, species, and structure, although wildlife crossings have proven ecologically beneficial in many locations. To protect the endangered European badger amongst other species, the Netherlands has implemented a series of ‘ecoducts’ that de-fragment woodland divided by the A50 road.105 These crossings are planted in varying ways that link the wider woodland habitat, spanning a comparatively short distance. Evidently, tunnelling, and large spans are less economically feasible, thus should be sited accordingly.

Towards an ecological network To summarise, the existing landscape is composed of highly fragmented habitats within an impermeable agricultural matrix; this matrix will further decrease in permeability following the construction of West Tey. However, new development can be harnessed as a catalyst to de-fragment isolated remnants through implementing a corridor network. As the new garden community grows the network will provide an infrastructural framework that defines the relationship between users and the landscape. Unlike Victorian cities, like Sheffield, that grew from a central railway node, or car-based cities like Los Angeles, that grew horizontally, a landscape corridor network advocates urbanism based on site-specific environments, using the existing habitats and topography as a point of departure.

103  Ibid. 104  Wenche E Dramstad, James D Olson and Richard T. T Forman, Landscape Ecology Principles In Landscape Architecture And Land-Use Planning  (Cambridge: Harvard University Graduate School of Design, 1996), 37. 105  U.S. Department of Transportation, Wildlife crossing structure handbook Design And Evaluation In North America (Lakewood: Federal Highway Administration, 2011), 60.


3.4 Fragmented human-natural relationship On a planet consciously dominated by humans, it is the responsibility of humankind to sustainably cohabit the land alongside all other life.106 To achieve ecological balance, our homes need to be designed and sited to foster connections to the landscape and wildlife. It is essential to interact with nature, to maintain an understanding of it. Despite this certain groups of people are spending increasingly less time in the natural environment. British children aged 8 to 15 years only spend 68 minutes on average each day undertaking outdoor activities, sports-related activities, walking, or cycling; this is reflecting on our general knowledge of wildlife.107 A study by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds [RSPB] in 2013, indicated that only 21 per cent of British children have a sufficient understanding of nature.108 If we are not aware nor care about nature, it may cease to exist.109,110 Human interactions between wildlife and people may be differentiated into two sets of experiences. Firstly, occasional excursions, such as weekend country walks or trips to nature reserves, which are determined by the personal desire for travel and recreation. Secondly, everyday interactions, such as the journey to work, looking out the window, walking the dog, sitting in the garden, and meeting in public spaces; these connections are determined by architecture and town planning. In the context of planning a new settlement, excursional interactions can be aligned to the previously proposed patch and corridor network [as outlined in Section 3.3]. However, to re-establish everyday human-natural interactions, residential architecture must be positioned within an ecological framework.

Interacting with nature in rural Essex By its nature, the rural landscape is filled with greenspaces.111 However, studies indicate that the quality and access to rural greenspace is often problematic, as upkeep, safety, and amenities are often in poor condition.112 The Essex Wildlife Trust analysed the Accessible Natural Greenspace Standards [ANGSt] across the county; the results illustrated that vast tracts of rural Braintree, Tendring, and Uttlesford have no provision of accessible greenspace.113 Urbanisation is 106  107 

Author, Pilot thesis, 28.

Claire Shenton and Eleanor Rees, Children’s Engagement With The Outdoors And Sports Activities, UK: 2014 To 2015 (London: Office for National Statistics, 2018), 1–11.

108  RSPB, Connecting With Nature, Finding Out How Connected To Nature The UK’S Children Are, 2013, 3-9. 109  Helena Chance and Megha Rajguru, "The Didactic Landscape", Studies In The History Of Gardens & Designed Landscapes 39, no. 1 (2019): 1-4, doi:10.1080/14601 176.2018.1511175. 110  Author, Pilot thesis, 29. 111  Public Health England, Local Action On Health Inequalities: Improving Access To Green Spaces (London, 2014), 15. 112  Jenny Veitch et al., "Do Features Of Public Open Spaces Vary Between Urban And Rural Areas?",  Preventive Medicine  56, no. 2 (2013): 107-111, doi:10.1016/j. ypmed.2012.11.016. 113  Essex Wildlife Trust, Analysis Of Accessible Natural Greenspace Provision For Essex, Including Southend-On-Sea And Thurrock Unitary Authorities, 2009.


decreasing public accessibility to greenspace across the countryside.114 As observed during the fieldwork period, the mainstream form of housebuilding in rural Essex is the development of piecemeal estates on the fringes of existing communities. For existing residents, this often results in the loss of views, the loss of legal and physical access to the newly enclosed land, and an increased distance to access the open country.

Figure 3.38 Urbanism at Great Notely

Despite the rural location, the residents of Marks Tey and Little Tey have extremely limited access to public greenspace. The sparseness of recreational services, the fragmented condition of woodlands, and the lack of public rights of way confines the accessible greenspace to small community parks and church yards. Additionally, the surrounding infrastructure creates a hazardous boundary between the villages and the rural landscape beyond. According to the Access to Healthy Assets and Hazards Index, these villages are in the most deprived national decile, which is comparable to Central Manchester.115 Evidently, the existing communities are surrounded by greenspaces, and simply new access needs to be provided.

Homes for people and nature Going forward to planning West Tey, the speculative design interventions proposed throughout the previous sections can be amalgamated into a single landscape mosaic. However, the location and arrangement of these propositions will determine the dynamic between the residents and wildlife. There are two salient planning logics: firstly, the urban fabric as a permeable matrix; secondly, the urban fabric as a patch. The first planning logic is to join two distinctly separate human and natural systems into an interconnected network. In this instance the urban fabric is a permeable matrix of housing, industry, retail, leisure, and transport, that grows alongside an established green infrastructure. Successful systems are strategically connected with capillary greenways filtering the natural landscape into public parks and gardens within the new urban matrix. Contemporary planners primarily aim for this logic; it is suggested in the 2019 Essex design guide, which has been harnessed by the initial live proposals for West Tey.116 Great Notley ‘garden village’, completed in c.2000 predominantly by Countryside Properties, is an example of an arcadian suburb as a product of the Essex Design Guide.117 The village has two distinct zones, the suburb, and the country park. However, the systems are defined by the arc of the main road, fragmenting the residents from and the park [fig. 3.38]. Although the park is an environmental 114  Public Health England, Local Action On Health Inequalities: Improving Access To Green Spaces (London, 2014), 15. 115  Konstantinos Daras et al., "Access To Healthy Assets And Hazards (AHAH)", 2017, doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.11939.66083. 116  Essex Planning Officers Association, "Essex Design Guide". 117  "New Builds Case Study: Great Notley Village",  Countrysideproperties.Com, 2019,


success, to access it from the village requires crossing a high-speed road; this raises significant issues overlooked by the guide, namely creating a definitive partition between residents and nature.118 This is a particularly relevant precedent for West Tey given the similarities of infrastructural disintegration. A more recent, and more successful example is the Newhall Be estate masterplan by Studio REAL, in Harlow, in west Essex [fig. 3.39]. It is an example of a new residential scheme which considerably improved the local ecology, and successfully delivered homes for around 6,000 residents and new public amenities, including architecture by Alison Brooks and Richard Murphy.119 Before development, the site was predominantly arable land ‘of low ecological value’, yet its success is attributed to the strategic introduction of a central green corridor with pockets of semi-improved grassland, woodland, hedgerows, scattered trees, streams, ponds and reed beds.120 The layout retains and enhances the key habitats, and connects the primary habitats with a green corridor, enabling the movement of species through the site, but also providing a centrepiece for the community. This scheme utilises architecture as a catalyst to improve the quality of landscape and enlarge the habitable area.121 The new habitats increase the economic value of the surrounding properties and raises the general well-being of the residents.

Figure 3.39 Harlow Newhall Be

The second planning logic is to consider the human realm as a natural habitat. In this instance, the urban fabric becomes a patch, that is embedded into a green infrastructure to form a unified ‘ecosystem’. This logic attempts to synthesise competing land uses into a fluctuating network, that will expand and decline with time. In The Granite Garden, Ann Whiston Spirn said that ‘The city, the suburbs, and countryside must be viewed as a single, evolving system within nature’.122 Indeed, new neighbourhood estates can be positioned as catalytic nodes, between existing natural habitats, which are all connected with a network of corridors. The landconsumptive uses required to sustain a community, including allotments, school grounds, and playing fields, will radially replace the matrix surrounding each node, and incrementally decrease in spatial complexity from each centre. Unlike the previous logic that replaces the agricultural matrix, high-density estates within a fine-grain corridor network will enable some retention of the existing matrix, which can gradually retire as production technologies change. Drawing on Descola’s ontological theory of totemism, that highlights the sophistication of Native American and aboriginal beliefs, humans share both physicality and a degree of interiority with nature, 118  Author, Pilot thesis, 2018. 119  "Newhall Urban Extension, Harlow, Essex", Studio Real, 2019, http://www.,-HARLOW,-ESSEX/5/5. 120  Essex Biodiversity Project, “Integrating Biodiversity Into Development, Greenfield Site”, 2010. 121  Ibid. 122  Ann Whiston Spirn, "The Granite Garden", in Theory In Landscape Architecture: A Reader (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 175.



including animals, plants, and even landscapes.123 The new society of West Tey will not become totemic, but architecture may be designed in a way to highlight the position of humans within the natural ecosystem. This planning logic is more radical, and relies on a degree of socio-cultural adaptability, as it requires the residents to live closer together and closer to nature.

Meta-plan To summarise, despite the location, many communities throughout rural Essex have limited access to public greenspace, including the villages surrounding West Tey. The holistic planning of a new settlement could improve this, although at the detriment to the ‘rural’ condition of the area. Frequently interacting with the natural environment is essential for both nature and ourselves. There is a substantial amount of evidence indicating the benefits of greenspace to well-being, physical, and mental health.124 Additionally, numerous studies substantiate the increase in value of properties that have visual and physical access to greenspace and more so by water.125 We need to ‘green’ the countryside because it is not as green as often perceived. Rural habitats are shrinking, standardising, and becoming more disjointed due to increasing agricultural and housing pressures. However, through anatomising the landscape into a mosaic of individual conditions, speculative designs can be proposed, then revised, and rationalised into conceptual design guidelines [fig. 3.40]. Collectively, the guidelines and site analysis serve as a toolkit, to build a landscape cohabited by people and nature.

Overleaf Figure 3.39 Speculative ‘meta-plan’ for an ecological vision at West Tey. Existing Simple Uniform Independent

123  Descola, Beyond Nature And Culture. 124  Public Health England, Local Action On Health Inequalities: Improving Access To Green Spaces (London, 2014). 125  Office for National Statistics, Estimating The Impact Urban Green Space Has On Property Price (London, 2018).

Unstable High-entropy

Complex Diverse Interdependent Stable Low-entropy



4. ‘GREENING’ THROUGH URBANISM 4.1 Position in the development debate In his manifesto for the countryside Rem Koolhaas notes that ‘Half of mankind lives in the city, but the other half doesn’t’, and despite this, the vast majority of twentieth-century architectural literature is purely concerned with cities.1 Given that urban areas only cover 6 per cent of the UK’s land area, the thesis aims to contribute to the literature of the remaining 94 per cent.2 The thesis reviews and amalgamates an array of preceding theories and design-research studies, into a cohesive ecological vision for the North Essex Garden Communities. New greenfield development naturally ‘urbanises’ a region, yet the thesis findings indicate that a new settlement can be created that retains habitable land and the intrinsic ‘rural’ characteristics of the existing area. The contracted landscapes study stipulates a high-density country house typology that employs the rural system [landscape contains buildings] from the Essex Design Guide as a baseline definition of ‘rurality’.3 In reaction to the modernist perception of green space as a single building material, Forman’s abstraction of landscape into a mosaic of patches, corridors, and matrices, creates a new insight into the countryside.4,5 The homogenised landscapes study determines that the new land uses required to sustain a garden community, can create a variety of new enclosures and material conditions, increasing the heterogeneity of the existing intensive arable landscape. Numerous landscape ecology investigations indicate that a network of corridors can defragment and ecologically enrich isolated greenspaces.6,7 The fragmented landscapes study unites Turner’s conception of greenways and the landscape ecology lexicon, to formulate an interconnected human-natural ecological network.

1  Rem Koolhaas, "Countryside", OMA, 2019, 2  Alasdair Rae, "A Land Cover Atlas Of The United Kingdom", 2017. 3  Essex County Council, A Design Guide for Residential Areas, 61. 4  Lisa Taylor, Urban Open Spaces (Rizzoli Intl, 1981), 85. 5  Forman, Land Mosaics: The Ecology Of Landscapes And Regions. 6  Rosenberg, Noon, and Meslow, "Biological Corridors: Form, Function, And Efficacy",  677-687. 7  Mark Dixon, "Corridor Ecology: The Science And Practice Of Linking Landscapes For Biodiversity Conservation", The Condor 109, no. 3 (2007): 715, 5.

Overleaf Figure 4.1 An ecological bricolage of existing landscapes and rural cultural themes in Essex. 63

The fragmented human-natural relationship studies indicate that the divide can be resolved through embedding new residential architecture within rather than alongside green infrastructure. Descola indicates that only recently has culture been isolated from nature.8 In planning a new settlement, the thesis adopts these notions to re-position the architectural ‘sedes hominum’ as a human habitat within a wider ‘ecosystem’.9,10 Comparing ru-topia and contemporary literature of the live project, appraises the ecological implications of the ‘garden community principles’ and the Essex Design Guide. Unlike Howard’s original prescriptions, the TCPA’s ‘garden community principles’ are highly equivocal with few limitations; thus, comparisons cannot be directly drawn, which alludes to why the term has been historically misappropriated.11,12 The Essex Design Guide is highly detailed, even to the extent to recommend plant species. A built manifestation of the guide at Great Notley exemplifies the typical conditions of holistic greenfield development. Although within the umbrella of the garden communities, the process of review throughout the thesis opens and challenges the philosophy of the Essex Design Guide. Ru-topia is arguably more ecologically focused than both Howard’s ‘garden city’ concept and the Essex Design Guide but requires greater social reform. Throughout, the thesis deploys a chart that measures five qualitative ecological values of land, based on the components of a healthy ecosystem as laid out by McHarg. Using the existing site as a baseline other landscapes and propositions can be compared as positive or negative. The measurements are limited to the type and direction of change and do not measure the rate of change, which cannot be quantified due to the complexities of differing environmental conditions.

8  Philippe Descola, Beyond Nature And Culture  (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013). 9  Mairi McFadyen, "The Cultural-Ecological Imagination Of Patrick Geddes (1854 - 1932)",  North Light, 2019, 10  Carol Ritchie, "The Place Of Protected Areas In The European Landscape: A EUROPARC Federation Perspective", in Nature Policies And Landscape Policies: Urban And Landscape Perspectives, 18th ed. (Cham: Springer, 2014), 43-50. 11  “Garden City Principles", Town And Country Planning Association, 2019, https:// 12  Hardy and Ward, Arcadia For All, 2004, 191.


4.2 Limitations Housing need and location Throughout the literature and fieldwork themes emerged in reaction to the ecological decline caused by the housing crisis, rather than the housing deficit itself. Through testing the hypotheses on a live project run by councils, the thesis acquires a series of assumptions based on real situations. It does not challenge the national housing need, nor the proposed location of new housing. It assumes the existing agricultural land can legally be converted to housing and that people will desire to move to the region following development completion. No substantial account is made for future population change or economic dynamics of the region, including fluctuation given the vote to leave the European Union, which will subsequently influence the demands for housing and farmland.

Utopia and practicality The socio-environmental problems addressed by the thesis have many complex tributaries, not all of which can be adequately addressed in one paper. The thesis takes an exploratory trajectory, creating design propositions based on a combination of literature and observations from the field, which do not profess to be sole solutions as there are infinite approaches to design. A creative advantage of design-research is that every proposition adds something new to the development debate, irrespective of the scale or success. Built utopias that profess to be ‘the solution’ generally fail.13 The origin of utopia, ‘ou topos’, meaning not-place, alludes to non-physicality of the term.14 As solitary design concepts, utopias rarely account for all the complexities of the context, e.g. learning from the mistakes of the new town utopias at Harlow and Basildon, holistically constructed developments age evenly; as the materials deteriorated and public tastes changed, infrastructure and architecture became outdated at once, requiring wholesale reconfiguration.15 Utopias are useful, to offer a glimpse into how the world could be, aiming to inspire rather than inform. Geddes’ conception of ‘eutopia’, or ‘eu topos’, that translates to ‘good-place’, advocates a practical ‘reality-vision’, which is the logical counterpart to utopia, to which ‘ru-topia’ strives.16,17 The speculative and arguably radical vision of ru-topia can be compounded and rationalised into individual practical design guidelines.

13  Gillian Darley, Villages Of Vision (Nottingham: Five Leaves, 2007). 14  Turner, Landscape planning, 2. 15  Darley, Radical Essex, 2018. 16  Turner, Landscape planning, 2. 17  Mairi McFadyen, "The Cultural-Ecological Imagination Of Patrick Geddes (1854 - 1932)",  North Light, 2019, patrick-geddes.


English cultural individualism The eutopian nature of the thesis relies on a degree of radical rationale, which compared to other counties, Essex historically has in abundance.18 The consolidation of people and wildlife into a cohesive ‘ecosystem’, requires both cultural and natural adaptability. Perhaps the most significant obstacle of any new development is the housing market; with few precedents, the demand for a new type of living is untested. The compression of people and buildings to save land for nature, fundamentally, necessitates a degree of social cohesion. An unanticipated challenge for ru-topia is the English cultural individualist attitudes towards land ownership, which is notably challenging in the Essex countryside, given the decompression of economic land values compared to London. An ‘Englishman’s home is his castle’, and ‘do-it-yourself ’ are attitudes ingrained into English culture, that endorse the individualistic selfownership of land.19 However, these attitudes threaten the enclosure of the countryside and are increasingly widening the divide between people and nature. The thesis reframes the Arcadian dream of “your very own house in the country”, that in reality is suburban, to a cultural synthesis of pastoralist attitudes towards land and nature, the social-democratic attitudes of modernism, and increasing contemporary environmentalist attitudes, to formulate truly rural residential typology, positioned within a human-natural ‘ecosystem’. Individualism is achieved at the bottom-up scale of local and self-builders, as homes are built with particular clients in mind, creating a bricolage of styles and tastes. However, the current context is dominated by top-down development led by capitaldriven corporations, often speculating mass development built to standardised market demands, resulting in a landscape of the average English taste [as uncovered in section 3.2]. Arguably then, these suburban landscapes have less individuality than a country estate typology. A degree of individualism can be implemented with dwelling-scale design and management interventions. As a somewhat communitarian estate, successful post-occupancy top-down management may be possible due to the council-run non-profit polity of the NEGCs. A mixture of tenancies dwelling types can be implemented, including commonholds, freeholds in 3-5 storey terraces, and public ownership. In the immediate landscape, a gridded parterre system, that radially aligns to the windows of the dwelling, could create an axial frame out toward the land. This creates a perspective of individual centrality in which each dwelling would seem to ‘own’ the landscape beyond, performing as a semi-enclosed ‘front garden’ without private ownership from the residents. The degree of privacy will vary depending on the configuration of dwellings but can be achieved in 18  19 


Burrows et al., Radical Essex, 2018. Ibid, 6.

a shared residence through essentially ensuring dwellings have private access with front doors and secluded outdoor balconies. In going forward, the subsequent design project will harness the conceptual framework and remaining issues highlighted by the thesis, to fully detail a new community at West Tey.

4.3 Contextual validity and wider application Due to the early state of the live project, and the unconfirmed site boundary, it is not certain whether West Tey will be realised. The thesis intentionally does not interrogate the contextual details of ‘West Tey’ so the findings are applicable to the other new community speculations in Essex. The propositions are rooted in English picturesque landscape ideologies and English planning concepts, in response to the socioenvironmental context of contemporary Essex. Yet, certain proposed elements may be substantively transposed to other national and international regions with contested proposals for new greenfield communities. At the greatest extent, the proposed principles could be applied across the entire British countryside, through positioning the architecture within the Wildlife Trust’s regional Living Landscape project. The applicable distribution of the proposition is varied, and would work in the context of south England, notably in the OxfordCambridge corridor project, but would be less successful in North England and Scotland due to the comparative housing profusion. The principles are best implemented at the outset of holistically planning a new community but could also be implemented as an alternative to suburban expansions around existing communities. Figure 4.3 speculates an ecological alternative to proposed new estates in Halstead. If successfully tested, the principles may be applied to new landscapes in ecologically poor green belt sites. The increasing cost of living in London and improvements in transport technology are resulting in an ever-increasing willingness to travel more considerable distances, with the commuting residents having stronger cultural, social, and economic ties to London than the communities in which they reside.20 Drawing on Loudon’s 1829 Breathing Zones for London that consisted of concentric rings of ‘alternate mile zones of buildings, with half mile zones of country or gardens’, perhaps the interface between the green belt and the string of new developments proposals can serve as an inhabited ‘green edge’, preventing the future expansion of London.


Robert Bruegmann, Sprawl (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008), 2.


Figure 4.2 Integrating high-density rural typologies within the regional ecological planning framework.



Up to 150 homes [no layout]

218 homes [no layout]

21 homes [no layout]

85 homes

183 homes 100 homes

Figure. 4.3. Above: The live new proposals for 757 new suburban homes in Halstead, Essex Below: Alternative speculation for 763 new high-density country homes and public country parks

Country Park 406 homes

Park 49 homes

Park 71 homes

Country Park 237 homes


4.5 Further research Additional future research may be undertaken to examine further the subjects highlighted. In The Ecology of Urban Habitats, Gilbert claims that ‘people inherently like the picturesque, and given the choice would decide to live in a setting not dissimilar to eighteenth-century parkland’.21 A useful future non-architectural study is a survey of the potential market interest of living in a shared high-density country estate, the implication of which could influence mainstream developer construction. Although the thesis consulted with local residents and activists, mainly CPRE Essex and CAUSE, the meta-plan is primarily a response to ecological threats rather than social conflicts. A potentially valuable post-propositional study is the comparison of residents’ views on traditional new towns versus a cohabited humannatural landscape. Throughout the twentieth century, Essex has been a testing ground for new residential development.22 Hypothetically, the ideal research study is to continue this process and physically construct a sample of a high-density country estate, that can test the interactions between residents and nature; evidently, this requires considerable funding from a client.

21  Oliver Gilbert, The Ecology Of Urban Habitats  (London: Chapman and Hall, 1991), 11. 22  Burrows et al., Radical Essex, 2018, 6.


Figure 5.1 Bricolage of morals, opinions, and land uses. 72

5. CONCLUSION Rural Essex is not one shade of green but a multicoloured mosaic of fluctuating uses and users. Architects and planners are in a moral predicament, with a growing regional population demanding land for food and homes on the one hand, and natural habitats diminishing amidst a global ecological ‘crisis’ on the other. Design propositions emerged from the literature and field observations, which the thesis tests, and subsequently suggests particular courses of action, which if adopted could philosophically synthesise the interplay of contending land use pressures. The exploratory nature of the design-research method generates multiple layers of deductions which collectively form a vision for the North Essex Garden Communities. The investigations into the contraction of landscapes attest that the built footprint of new housing estates can be compressed into highdensity shared country estates, retaining the existing rural character, and saving land area for natural uses. In the case of determining landscape heterogeneity, the studies stipulate that the new land uses, materials, and morphological reconfiguration, brought about by the socio-economics of new urbanism, can diversify homogenous intensive arable habitats. In terms of ecological connectivity, the findings suggest that a fine-grain infrastructural patch-and-corridor network can de-fragment isolated rural habitats and allow a degree of agricultural productivity to continue. Moreover, the studies into the fragmented human-natural relationship specify that residential architecture and landscape design can be strategically positioned within an ‘ecosystem’ to create everyday and excursional interactions between people and wildlife. The synthesis of the design-research studies indicates that the intensive arable state of existing rural Essex is not definitively inhabitable. The thesis argues that if planned accordingly, new settlements can be constructed to not only mitigate the impact but increase the ecological value of the surrounding countryside. The importance of this research is in comparison to the mainstream low-density method of housebuilding. Typical greenfield development signifies an incessant shift away from a rural population that looks to nature and the land for livelihood and leisure, to a commuter population that looks beyond the locality for socio-economic prosperity.1 The product is the conflict with and ultimately displacement of rural ecology and culture. Development reform is urgent; if Essex constructs the 136,000 homes that it is obliged to, at the average national density of 32 dph, 4,250 hectares of rural Essex

1  NERC/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Natural England, Countryside Survey: England Results From 2007, 2009, 119.


could be lost to urbanisation within less than 20 years.2,3 The architectural profession has broadly omitted greenfield housing development as a sustainable concept for new housing; yet, as the primary driver of rural greenspace loss, this issue cannot go overlooked.4 ‘Ru-topia’ proposes an alternative form of greenfield urbanism that retains the ‘rural’ characteristics of the existing region, by centrally embedding high-density country residences within a sustained human-natural cohabited landscape. Urbanism does pose a threat to rural ecology, but if strategically executed, it is an opportunity to fundamentally change and celebrate the countryside.

2  Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, "Land Use Change Statistics In England: 2016-17", 2018, 7. 3  This figure rises to 180,000 new homes with the additional unitary authorities Southend and Thurrock. Essex County Council, Essex Organization Strategy 20172021, 2017, 8. 4  For example, the themes publicised Richard Rogers' URBAN TASK FORCE.



Figure List 1.1 Author, Saltmarshes at Wrabness nature reserve, 2018. 1.2 Author, “North Essex Garden Communities” 2019, Local plans: Braintree DC, Colchester BC, Tendring DC, Uttlesford DC, Chelmsford CC, Maldon DC, Harlow DC, Basildon DC, Southend BC, Castle Point BC, Rochford DC, Brentwood BC, Thurrock DC, and Epping Forest DC. Current development proposals across Essex, 2019. 1.3 Author, Land footprint of 136,000 Homes, 2019. 1.4 Author, ONS census, and Datashine. Commuter routes to work from Marks Tey and the CO6 postcode., 2019. 1.5 Author, ONS. Projected household growth in North Essex, 2019. 1.6 Author, Marks Tey, Photograph 2018. 1.7 Author, Great Tey, Photograph 2018. 1.8 Author, Little Tey, Photograph 2018. 1.9 Author, Colchester Borough Council, Emerging Colchester Borough Local Plan 2017-2033. 2019. 1.10 Live project proposals for ‘West Tey’ 1.10.1 Author, Google Earth. Aerial photograph with current ‘West Tey’ boundary, 2019. 1.10.2 Iterative Plan, Gateway 120, “Presentation to Marks Tey Parish Council”, April 2018. 1.10.3 Specualtive proposal, Studio LK and Gateway 120, “Presentation to Marks Tey Parish Council”, April 2018. 1.10.4 Marks Tey and Stanway Future Vision, by Sophie Smith, 2019. 1.11 Google Earth, View of Marks Tey, 2019. 1.12 Author, Exploded landscape systems in Essex, 2019. 1.13 Author, ‘McHargian’ qualitative ecological measurement chart diagram, 2019. 1.14 Author, Landscape abstracted into patch-matrix-corridor framework 2.1 Author, ‘Natural’ state of the landscape, Shenfield common, Photograph 2018. 2.2 English Heritage, England: presences of woodland c 730-1086, from Roberts, Brian K, and Stuart Wrathmell. Region And Place. Swindon: English Heritage, 2002. 2.3 John Constable, Wivenhoe Park, Oil on canvas (Washington, D.C: National Gallery of Art, 1816). 2.4 Author, Homogenous productive landscape, Braintree Borders NEGC site, Photograph 2018.


2.5 Author, Timeline of recent radical developments in Essex, 2019. 2.6. The 1973 Essex Design Guide for Residential Areas Front cover, ECC, 1973. 2.7 Author, Silver End, 2018. 2.8 Author, Radical Settlements in Essex map, 2018. 3.1 Author, The process of conversion from arable farmland to new housing in Halstead, Essex, 2018. 3.2 Author, Google Earth, Comparative aerial images before and after greenfield development in Witham, Google Earth 2000, 2018. 3.3 Author, Dynamics between patch remnants and the matrix, 2018. 3.4 Author, Patch fragmentation reduces the habitable interior, 2018. 3.5 Author, Speculative patch exterior simplification study, 2018. 3.6 Orongo Sheep station re-wilding project, NBWLA 2019. 3.7 Author, A shared country house and public park typology could replace process of suburbanisation. 3.8 Author, Land coverage versus density concept, 2018. 3.9 Tower blocks in a semi-rural context at the Wanstead Flats, photograph by John Rogers, 2017, http:// 2019. 3.10 Author, 2011 ONS Census, Population - area coverage comparison study 3.11. Speculative reconfiguration of the Marks Tey estate to high density rural residence within and common parkland, , 2018. 3.12 Author, How many dwellings can fit into an Essex country house? 2019. 3.13 Author, Local precedents: Audley End, a grand Jacobean prodigy estate near Saffron Walden, 2018. 3.14 Author, High-density residential architecture does not have to resemble the urban tower block, 2019. 3.15 Author, Speculative study arbitrarily dividing Blenheim palace into single storey three bedroom flats, averaging at approximately 95m2 each, 2018. 3.16 Author, Rudimental dwelling typologies, differentiated by access type, 2018. 3.17 Author, Speculative greenspace expansion plan, 2019. 3.18 Gibberd’s plan for Harlow, divided into Neighbourhoods. Http:// html. 2018. 3.19 Author, Speculative design sketches for a high-density rural typology, 2019. 3.20 Author, Homogeneous intensive farmland near Marks Tey, 2019. 3.21 Author, Agrichemicals near Little Tey, 2019. 77

3.22 Author, New developer homes built in 2018. 3.23 Google Earth and Ordnance Survey, Contemporary google Earth photograph and historic survey overlay, 2019. 3.24 Author, Coarse-grain landscape with micro-habitats, 2019. 3.25 Author, Diversification through enclosures design speculations, 2019. 3.26 Author, Boundary conditions sketch, 2019. 3.27 Author, Beeleigh falls, Essex, 2018. 3.28 Author, Diversity through topographical change sketches, 2019. 3.29 Author, Speculative greenspace diversification plan, 2019. 3.30 Author, Fragmented woodland, part of the ‘Braintree Borders’ ‘garden community’ site, 2019. 3.31 Author, Connectivity with a rural corridor network, 2019. 3.32 Author, A spur trail and a hide, to enable interaction and protect wildlife from the bustle of the main trail, 2019. 3.33 Author, Speculative greenspace corridor network plan, 2019. 3.34 Author, Moderate visual greenway preference, 2019. 3.35 Author, High visual greenway preference, 2019. 3.36 Author, Breaks in corridors, 2019. 3.37 Author, Stepping Stones, 2019. 3.38 Author, Urbanism at Great Notley, 2018. 3. 39 Author, Speculative ‘meta-plan’ for an ecological vision at West Tey, 2019. 4.1 Author, An ecological bricolage of existing landscapes and rural cultural themes in Essex, 2019. 4.2 Author, Integrating high-density rural typologies within the regional ecological planning framework, 2019. 4.3 Author, Alternative to suburban development in Essex, 2019. 5.1 Author, Bricolage of morals, opinions, and land uses, 2019.


Interviews and consultations Richard Bayley, Managing Director, North Essex Garden Communities [NEGC] Ltd., Recorded interview (24 January 2019). Cllr. John Spence, Essex County & Chairman of NEGC ltd., Recorded interview (21 Janurary 2019). Thomas Hoepfner, Director, New Garden Cities Alliance (13 October 2018). Liz Wrigley, Director, Core Connections ltd. & New Garden Cities Alliance (13 October 2018). David Knight, Chairman, CPRE Essex (29 August 2018, 6 October 2018). Tricia Moxey, CPRE Essex (29 August 2018, 6 October 2018). Robin Page, Chairman, Countryside Restoration Trust [CRT] (16 June 2018). Dr Vince Lea, Wildlife Monitoring Officer, CRT (18 April 2018, 14 May 2018, 16 June 2018). Gillian Darley, Architectural Historian (30 June 2018). Charles Holland, Architect (30 June 2018). Campaign Members of Campaign Against Urban Sprawl Essex [CAUSE] (20 June 2018, 6 October 2018). Campaign Members of Hands off Wivenhoe (20 June 2018, 6 October 2018). Campaign Members of SERCLE (20 June 2018). Campaign Members of StopNUTown [North Uttlesford] (18 June 2018). Residents of Marks Tey (6 June 2018, 20 June 2018, August 27, 6 October 2018). Residents of Wivenhoe (15 June 2018).

Talk Talk, ‘Towards a New Rural’, hosted by CPRE Essex, Marks Tey, 2018.


Bibliography Articles and Journals AECOM. “North Essex Garden Communities: Garden Communities Charter”. 2016. Beita, E., and A. Fujii. “Harmonization Between Architecture And Nature Through Traditional Japanese Screens”. International Journal Of Design & Nature And Ecodynamics 8, no. 1 (2013): 29-40. doi:10.2495/ dne-v8-n1-29-40. Benton, Tim G., Juliet A. Vickery, and Jeremy D. Wilson. “Farmland Biodiversity: Is Habitat Heterogeneity The Key?”. Trends In Ecology & Evolution18, no. 4 (2003): 182-188. doi:10.1016/s0169-5347(03)000119. Chance, Helena, and Megha Rajguru. “The Didactic Landscape”.  Studies In The History Of Gardens & Designed Landscapes 39, no. 1 (2019): 1-4. doi:10.1080/14601176.2018.1511175. Cheng, Vicky. “Understanding Density And High Density”. In  Designing High-Density Cities: For Social And Environmental Sustainability, 1st ed. London: Routledge, 2009. Daras, Konstantinos, Mark A. Green, Alec Davies, Alex Singleton, and Benjamin Barr. “Access To Healthy Assets And Hazards (AHAH)”, 2017. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.11939.66083. Dixon, Mark. “Corridor Ecology: The Science And Practice Of Linking Landscapes For Biodiversity Conservation”. The Condor 109, no. 3 (2007): 715. doi:10.1650/8386.1. Didham, Raphael K. “Ecological Consequences Of Habitat Fragmentation”. Encyclopedia Of Life Sciences, 2010. doi:10.1002/9780470015902.a0021904. Essex Biodiversity Project. “Integrating Biodiversity Into Development, Greenfield Site”. 2010. Essex Planning Officers Association, “Essex Design Guide”,  Essexdesignguide.Co.Uk, 2019, https://www. Falk, Nicholas. “Garden Cities for the Twenty-First Century.” Urban Design International 22, no. 1 (February 1, 2017): 91–110. Hebbert, Michael. “Re-Enclosure of the Urban Picturesque: Green-Space Transformations in Postmodern Urbanism.” The Town Planning Review 79, no. 1 (2008): 31-59. Hoppert, M., B. Bahn, E. Bergmeier, M. Deutsch, K. Epperlein, C. Hallmann, and A. Müller et al. “The Saale-Unstrut Cultural Landscape Corridor”. Environmental Earth Sciences 77, no. 3 (2018). doi:10.1007/ s12665-017-7222-4. Kellett, Jonathan E. “The Private Garden in England and Wales.” Landscape Planning 9, no. 2 (1982): 105–123.

McFadyen, Mairi. “The Cultural-Ecological Imagination Of Patrick Geddes (1854 - 1932)”. North Light, 2019. McGregor, Calum. “Countryside Being Lost To Housing At An Alarming Rate, Despite Increase In Brownfield Development - Campaign To Protect Rural England”,  CPRE, 2018,


uk/media-centre/latest-news-releases/item/4867-countryside-being-lost-to-housing-at-an-alarming-rateincrease-brownfield-development Mikusiński, Grzegorz, Malgorzata Blicharska, Hans Antonson, Marianne Henningsson, Görgen Göransson, Per Angelstam, and Andreas Seiler. “Integrating Ecological, Social And Cultural Dimensions In The Implementation Of The Landscape Convention”. Landscape Research 38, no. 3 (2013): 384-393. doi:1 0.1080/01426397.2011.650629. Myers, N., and A. H. Knoll. “The Biotic Crisis And The Future Of Evolution”. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences 98, no. 10 (2001): 5389-5392. doi:10.1073/pnas.091092498. Pigliucci, Massimo. “Environmental Heterogeneity: Temporal And Spatial”. Encyclopedia Of Life Sciences, 2001. doi:10.1038/npg.els.0001766. Rae, Alasdair. “A Land Cover Atlas Of The United Kingdom”, 2017. Robertson, G., Katherine L. Gross, Stephen K. Hamilton, Douglas A. Landis, Thomas M. Schmidt, Sieglinde S. Snapp, and Scott M. Swinton. “Farming For Ecosystem Services: An Ecological Approach To Production Agriculture”. Bioscience 64, no. 5 (2014): 404-415. doi:10.1093/biosci/biu037. Rosenberg, Daniel K., Barry R. Noon, and E. Charles Meslow. “Biological Corridors: Form, Function, And Efficacy”. Bioscience 47, no. 10 (1997): 677-687. doi:10.2307/1313208. Smart Growth UK. “Garden communities”. 2018. Sutherland, Adam. “Reinventing The Rural: A New Perspective On Our Countryside”. The Architectural Review, 2018. Tony Fawcett, “The Right Homes In The Right Places - Campaign To Protect Rural England”,  CPRE, 2018, Veitch, Jenny, Jo Salmon, Kylie Ball, David Crawford, and Anna Timperio. “Do Features Of Public Open Spaces Vary Between Urban And Rural Areas?”.  Preventive Medicine  56, no. 2 (2013): 107-111. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2012.11.016. Xu, Haiyun, Tobias Plieninger, and Jørgen Primdahl. “A Systematic Comparison Of Cultural And Ecological Landscape Corridors In Europe”. Land 8, no. 3 (2019): 41. doi:10.3390/land8030041.

Books Augé, Marc. Non-Places. London: Verso, 1995. Bruegmann, Robert. Sprawl. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008. Burrows, Tim, Gillian Darley, Charles Holland, Ken Worpole, Jules Lubbock, Jessica Twyman, and Rachel Lichtenstein. Radical Essex. Southend: Focal Point Gallery, 2018. Cooper, Guy, and Gordon Taylor. Paradise Transformed. New York: The Monacelli Press, 1996. Crowe, Sylvia. The Landscape Of Power. London: Architectural Press, 1958.


Crowe, Sylvia, and Mary Mitchell. The Pattern Of Landscape. Chichester: Packard, 1988. Essex Wildlife Trust. Analysis Of Accessible Natural Greenspace Provision For Essex, Including Southend-OnSea And Thurrock Unitary Authorities, 2009. Fairbrother, Nan. The House In The Country. New York: Knopf, 1965. Fairbrother, Nan. The Nature Of Landscape Design. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974. Forman, Richard T, and Michel Godron. Landscape Ecology. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1986. Forman, Richard T.  Land Mosaics: The Ecology Of Landscapes And Regions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Gambino, Roberto, and Attilia Peano. Nature Policies And Landscape Policies. Cham: Springer, 2014. Gilbert, Oliver. The Ecology Of Urban Habitats. London: Chapman and Hall., 1991. Hardy, Dennis, and Colin Ward. Arcadia For All. Nottingham: Five Leaves, 2004. Howard, Ebenezer, Frederic James Osborn, and Lewis Mumford. Garden Cities Of To-Morrow. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1973. Jacobs, Jane. The Death And Life Of Great American Cities. 1961. New York: Vintage Books, 2016. Jellicoe, Geoffrey. Motopia. London: Studio Books, 1961. Jellicoe, Geoffrey, and Susan Jellicoe. The Landscape Of Man. London: Thames and Hudson, 2006. Jencks, Charles. The Universe In The Landscape. London: Frances Lincoln, 2011. Lowenthal, David. The Past Is A Foreign Country. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Marsh, Jan. Back To The Land. London: Quartet Books, 1982. McHarg, Ian. “An Ecological Method”. In  Theory In Landscape Architecture: A Reader, 38-43. Simon Swaffield. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002. McHarg, Ian L. Design With Nature. Garden City, N.Y.: Published for the American Museum of Natural History [by] the Natural History Press, 1969. Murdoch, Jonathan, Philip Lowe, Neil Ward, and Terry Marsden.  The Differentiated Countryside. Abingdon: Routledge, 2011. Murphy, Michael. Landscape Architecture Theory. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2017. Nairn, Ian. Outrage. London: Architectural Press, 1955. Nicholson-Lord, David. The Greening Of The Cities. Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987. Pevsner, Nikolaus and James Bettley. Essex. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010. Rackham, Oliver. Ancient Woodland. Dalbeattie, Kirkudbrightshire: Castlepoint, 2003. Ritchie, Carol. “The Place Of Protected Areas In The European Landscape: A EUROPARC Federation Perspective”. In Nature Policies And Landscape Policies: Urban And Landscape Perspectives, 43-50. Roberto 82

Gambino and Attilia Peano, 18th ed. Cham: Springer, 2019. Roberts, Brian K, and Stuart Wrathmell. Region And Place. Swindon: English Heritage, 2002. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Connecting With Nature. Finding Out How Connected To Nature The UK’S Children Are, 2013. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, D B Hayhow, F Burns, M A Eaton, N Al Fulaij, T A August, L Babey, L Bacon, C Bingham, J Boswell; K L Boughey, T Brereton, E Brookman, D R Brooks, D J Bullock, O Burke, M Collis; L Corbet, N Cornish, S De Massimi, J Densham, E Dunn, S Elliott, T Gent, J Godber, S Hamilton, S Havery, S Hawkins, J Henney, K Holmes, N Hutchinson, N J B ISAAC, D Johns, C R Macadam, F Mathews, P Nicolet, D G Noble, C L Outhwaite, G D Powney, P Richardson, D B Roy, D Sims, S M Smart, K Stevenson, R A Stroud, K J Walker (Kevin), J R Webb, T J Webb, R Wynde, R D Gregory. State of Nature. 2016. Ruff, Alan. “An Ecological Approach”. In  Theory In Landscape Architecture: A Reader, 175-177. Simon Swaffield. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002. Taylor, Lisa, ed. Urban Open Spaces. Rizzoli Intl, 1981. Tennyson, Alfred. In Memoriam. London: E. Moxon, 1850. Tunnard, Christopher. Gardens In The Modern Landscape. London: The Architectural Press, 1938. Turner, Tom. City As Landscape. London: E&FN Spon, 1996. Turner, Tom. Garden History. London: Taylor & Francis, 2006. Turner, Tom. Landscape Planning And Environmental Impact Design. Routledge, 2004. Wentworth Day, James. Book Of Essex. Letchworth: Egon, 1979. Whiston Spirn, Ann. “The Granite Garden”. In Theory In Landscape Architecture: A Reader, 173-174. Simon Swaffield. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002. Wiebenson, Dora. The Picturesque Garden In France. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1978. Worpole, Ken. Here Comes The Sun. London: Reaktion, 2000. WWF. Living Planet Report - 2018: Aiming Higher. Grooten, M. and Almond, R.E.A.(Eds). WWF, Gland, Switzerland, 2018.

Lectures and broadcasts Descola, Phillippe. “Lessons In The Anthropology Of Nature”. Lecture, Goethe-University, Frankfurt, 2009. “Johnathan Meades: The Joy Of Essex”. Documentary. BBC, 2013. “Nairn Across Britain: From Leeds Into Scotland”. TV programme. BBC, 1990.


Government publications and speeches Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Making Space For Nature: A Review Of England’s Wildlife Sites And Ecological Network. London, 2019. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Environment Secretary Speaks At State Of Nature Report Launch, 2016. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Natural Environment White Paper. London. 2018. Essex County Council. A Design Guide for Residential Areas. Tiptree: Anchor Press Ltd., 1973. Essex County Council. Essex Biodiversity Action Plan, 1999. Essex County Council. Essex Chief Executives Association. “Integrated County Strategy Evidence Base: State Of Essex Papers”. 2010. Essex County Council. “Essex Organization Strategy 2017-2021”. 2017. Hammond, Philip. Oral Statement To Parliament: Autumn Budget 2017. London: UK Government, 2017. House of Commons Library, Briefing Paper No. 7974: Brexit: Agriculture And Trade (London, 2019). Institute of Terrestrial Ecology. Changes In Hedgerows In Britain Between 1984 And 1990, 1991. Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. Land Use Change Statistics In England: 2016-17, 2018. Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government,  Locally-Led Garden Villages, Towns And Cities (London, 2016). Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, National Planning Policy Framework (London, 2012). Natural England. “Monitor Of Engagement With The Natural Environment: The National Survey On People And The Natural Environment”. London, 2018. NERC, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Natural England. Countryside Survey: England Results From 2007, 2009. Office for National Statistics. Children’s Engagement With The Outdoors And Sports Activities, UK: 2014 To 2015, 2018. Office for National Statistics.  Estimating The Impact Urban Green Space Has On Property Price. London, 2018. Public Health England.  Local Action On Health Inequalities: Improving Access To Green Spaces. London, 2014. U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Conservation Buffers: Design Guidelines For Buffers, Corridors, And Greenways. Asheville, 2008. U.S. Department of Transportation. Wildlife crossing structure handbook Design And Evaluation In North America. Lakewood. Federal Highway Administration, 2011. 84

Websites “A History Of Hedges”. RSPB, 2019. “About NEGC | North Essex Garden Communities”. North Essex Garden Communities, 2019. https://www. “Campaign Against Urban Sprawl In Essex”. CAUSE, 2019. “Courtiers”. Palace Of Versailles. 2019. Descola, Philippe. Beyond Nature And Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. “Edible Uses”. Plants For A Future. Pfaf.Org, 2019. “Enclosing The Land”. UK Parliament, 2019. transformingsociety/towncountry/landscape/overview/enclosingland/. “Essex Island Home To England’s Rarest Mammal”. Wild Essex, 2016. an-essex-island-has-become-home-to-one-of-england-rarest-mammals/. Fawcett, Tony. “Better Protection For Hedgerows - Campaign To Protect Rural England”.  Cpre.Org.Uk, 2019. “Garden City Principles”. Town And Country Planning Association, 2019. “Greening”. Oxford English Dictionary, 2018. “Hands Off Wivenhoe”. Hands Off Wivenhoe, 2019.http;// “Invasive Species”. Essex Biodiversity Project, 2012. Koolhaas, Rem. “Countryside”. OMA, 2019. “Kowloon Walled City”. Densityatlas.Org, 2019. “Main Biodiversity Resources In The Tidal Thames”.  Port Of London Authority. 2019. https://www.pla. “Major Infrastructure And Projects”,  Essex.Gov.Uk, 2018, Planning/Development-in-Essex/Pages/Major-Infrastructure-and-Projects.aspx. “Living Landscapes”. Wildlifetrusts.Org, 2019. living-landscapes. “New Builds Case Study: Great Notley Village”.  Countrysideproperties.Com, 2019. https://www. “Newhall Urban Extension, Harlow, Essex”. Studio Real. Accessed 31 March 2018. http://www.studioreal.,-HARLOW,ESSEX/5/5. New Garden Cities Alliance, 2019,


“Oak (Quercus Robur) - Woodland Trust”. Woodlandtrust.Org.Uk, 2019. https://www.woodlandtrust. “Orongo Station Conservation Master Plan”. Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. 2019. http://www. “Richard T.T. Forman”. Gsd.Harvard.Edu, 2019. “Stop Erosion Of Rural Communities In Local Essex”. Sercle, 2019. “The Plan Voisin, Paris”. Densityatlas.Org, 2019. The Wildlife Trusts. “Farmland”.  Wildlifetrusts.Org, 2019. farmland.



Profile for Benjamin Nourse

Ru-topia: An ecological vision for the North Essex ‘Garden Communities’  

Design Thesis - Benjamin Nourse - MPhil Architecture and Urban Design - Homerton College - University of Cambridge - 2019

Ru-topia: An ecological vision for the North Essex ‘Garden Communities’  

Design Thesis - Benjamin Nourse - MPhil Architecture and Urban Design - Homerton College - University of Cambridge - 2019