2020 Issue 4
Greener Recovery: tackling climate emergency and COVID-19
Espen Voll, Tore Borgersen & Michael Olofsson
DESIGN TANK PHOTO INICOLAS TOURRENC
PUBLISHER Darkhorse Design Ltd T (0)20 7323 1931 darkhorsedesign.co.uk email@example.com EDITORIAL ADVISORY PANEL Holly Birtles CMLI, Associate Landscape Architect B|D. Stella Bland, Head of Communications, LDA Design Peter Sheard CMLI, Landscape Architect.
Landscape, justice and green recovery
John Stuart-Murray FLI, Landscape Architect. Jaideep Warya CMLI, Landscape Architect,The Landscape Partnership. Jo Watkins PPLI, Landscape Architect. Jenifer White CMLI, National Landscape Adviser, Historic England. Rosie Wicheloe, Landscape Ecologist, London Wildlife Trust. LANDSCAPE INSTITUTE Commissioning Editor: Paul Lincoln, Executive Director Creative Projects and Publishing firstname.lastname@example.org Copy Editors: Jill White and Evan White President: Jane Findlay PLI CEO: Daniel Cook Landscapeinstitute.org @talklandscape landscapeinstitute landscapeinstituteUK Advertise in Landscape Contact Saskia Little, Business Development Manager 0330 808 2230 Ext 030 email@example.com
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Landscape is the official journal of the Landscape Institute, ISSN: 1742–2914 © 2020 Landscape Institute. Landscape is published four times a year by Darkhorse Design.
‘Do we turn on the light in the morning or is the light of daybreak sufficient for finding matching stockings?’ This question, asked by Ugandan climate activist Hilda F Nakabuye, keynote speaker at the LI’s Climate Emergency CPD Day, highlights the balance between the professional and the personal, the global and the local, and was at the heart of this online event organised by the LI in September, now available to watch on LI Campus (page 68). As COVID-19 rearranges our world, spaces that are normally managed by landowners and designed by landscape architects have become radically altered by the habits of their users. We asked six practitioners to watch their local spaces and report on the changes that have taken place, from Beirut to Bristol, and Roding Valley to a refugee camp in Ethiopia (page 6), Hilda F Nakabuye also said, ‘my continent, Africa, barely emits 4% of global carbon emissions, but it is suffering the most’. The relationship between climate emergency, landscape justice and the way in which we recover from COVID-19 is addressed throughout the journal. With only a few years remaining to turn the tide on global climate change and biodiversity loss, it is vital that our economic recovery from COVID-19 addresses this, by investing in green, nature-based infrastructure. This is the argument put forward in Greener Recovery, published by the LI in September (page13). A plea for equity in landscape is made by Graham Duxbury, who asks if we can we make both a green and
a fair recovery (page 23). The notion of landscape justice is considered by Matthew Ling who highlights the effect of a lack of tree cover on deprived communities (page 16); the impact of increased access to cycling is explored by Anna Sieczak (page 19) and Steve McAdam and Gabrielle Appiah consider how we engage effectively with a diverse range of communities (page 26). One of the most challenging aspects of the pandemic is the assumed flight from the city. If this is happening, it will be useful to consider the initiatives being taken by The Landscape Practice and Marks Barfield Architects, who describe some of their inner-city approaches (page 53) and by Urban Splash, which is building a new development in Cambridge (page 57). Carole Wright honours Mary Seacole with a brand new Lambeth Walk. We also look at a new book by Tom Armour and Andrew Tempany, and ask the author of the recently published New life in Public Squares to look at the impact of COVID-19 on public space. Paul Lincoln Commissioning editor
2020 Issue 4
Greener Recovery: tackling climate emergency and COVID-19
Cover image Stadhuispark Almere. © LOLA Landscape Architects
Watch this space Six practitioners watch their local spaces and report on the changes that have taken place.
F E AT U R E
How green is our recovery?
Consultation and engagement
Frequency of visits by key demographics Greener Recovery, a new
publication frompopulation the LI (Percentage of adult – 2018 to 2019) Meeting the needs of all communities
25-35 35-44 45-54 55-64
Creating Healthy Green Spaces AB C1 C2
At least once a week
Once or twice a month
Figure shows how frequency varied across key demographics, with larger proportions of infrequent visitors in the olde age groups, lower socio economic groups and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
Oana Baloi Emergency measures
Local greenspaces are ‘within easy walking distance’ Strongly responses Heron Street Cycle Agree revolution
By ONS Rural – Urban classificatio
% of adults
By By Index of Multiple A model for green capsule street space ethnicity Deprivation
Seeing the streets differently
Running in a pandemic
Less than once a month or never
(Percentage of adult population – 2018 to 2019)
Placing Green Spaces in Primary Prevention
White bgs. (not British or Irish)
https://www.gov. uk/government/ collections/monitor-ofengagement-with-thenatural-environmentsurvey-purpose-andresults
Source: Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment – The national survey on people and the natural Lockdown green belt environment
By social group*
Car park to cycle space
100% % of adults
Good for kids?
Equity and landscape
Great Ancoats Street Village, hamlet or isolated dwelling
Town and fringe
Least deprived 20%
Creating a new park
Most deprived 20%
16-24 25-35 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
Can we make a green and fair recovery?
LI president Jane Findlay reflects on green space and excluded communities
Staying in the city
65 Reasons to be optimistic
Towards a new suburbia
Promoting a bio urban future
Prioritising wellbeing and health.
The Humanitarian Landscape Collective looks at food security
66 The policy team go back toÂ school plus a new ideas competition from the LI
Nature of the City
Climate change resources
A new book by Tom Armour and Andrew Tempany
Planting decisions for mitigation and adaptation
LI Campus showcases the climate emergency CPD Day and the Jellicoe Lecture 2020
CPD AND TRAINING
New life in public squares in the age of COVID-19 The impact of COVID-19 on space
A Lambeth Walk
Carole Wright honours Mary Seacole
Watch this space As COVID-19 rearranges our world, spaces that are normally managed by landowners and designed by landscape architects have become radically altered by the habits of their users. We asked six practitioners to watch their local spaces and report on the changes that have taken place. 1. Beirut balconies.
ÂŠ Nikolett Puskas
Beirut balconies On the night of 10th March, I arrived back in Beirut from Egypt on literally one of the last planes allowed into the country. I was on holiday when the â€˜Corona talksâ€™ had started, but none of us understood what was yet to come. I considered myself lucky to be back, starting home quarantine the next day. None of us thought we would be in full lockdown for over two months, with restricted movement and the airport closed until 1st July. Beirut has many balconies that had social significance before, and flat roofs, but during the quarantine times,
these spaces were truly reinterpreted. For these were the only spaces people could use for a breath of air, doing sports, gathering with neighbours for coffee, cultivating mini-gardens, or simply for a change of scenery. Ultimately, the balcony and rooftop gained new meaning: people from facing houses connected through them, sharing some kind words or a smile, something that they might not have done in ordinary times. Lebanon took serious measures from early on, transforming daily life to contain the spread of the virus. People here are very social, so they transformed their
gatherings, connecting through their balconies and sharing social moments on their open gangways, obeying social distancing measures. All places are unique, and all have their own challenges. The hot weather struck in Beirut early on, so some people started to put small pools on their rooftops, adapting to the situation in whatever way they could. There has been tremendous social support among neighbours and friends, and with good spirit and laughs we kept each other hopeful for better days to come. This period offered a moment of deep reflection, as for many of us our
2. Beirut balconies. © Nikolett Puskas
3. The station car park that has been transformed into a training space for young cyclists. © Anushka Athique
workspace was relocated to our living space. For most of us, there are no gardens attached to our houses, or parks for a walk – which was forbidden for a long while anyway – so mostly we had to reinterpret our living spaces to become both our offices and spaces to exercise. ‘Public spaces’ became semi-private spaces that are conceived as passageways or foyers to get to one’s flat, and rooftops (ordinarily used to store water tanks and satellites) became crucial outdoor social and recreational spaces. I believe times like these offer opportunities for creativity and a new way to look at spaces which might be considered ‘tiny’– their perceived value grows immensely, as for some of us this is the only space to have a bit of greenery. The notion of nurturing a small balcony garden was suddenly invaluable. In these extraordinary times, there is an opportunity to truly contemplate transformative change, as some of the ‘what ifs’ have now been tried (out of
necessity), for example the alternative use of balcony and rooftop gardens. There is no measure or act ‘too small’ to start change, and perhaps if we focus on the opportunity this pandemic has given us, we as a species can collectively start making changes for a regenerative future.
Nikolett Puskas is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Global Prosperity and holds an MSc in leadership for global sustainable cities, an MA in sustainable design, and a BSc in light engineering.
Stop parking, start cycling I live with two young children opposite a small suburban train station on a busy commuter line into London. The station and its accompanying infrastructure of noise and its flux of people are knitted into our domestic realm. The station was used by 869,000 people last year, with daily peaks of activity in the morning and evening, but also a steady stream of passengers travelling between
coast and capital throughout the day. We use the line for work and for visiting neighbouring towns for playgrounds, river walks, grocery shopping, and socialising. Or just for the pure joy of taking the train – when you are 2 and 5, this cannot be overlooked. On the 23rd March as the cities suddenly emptied, as did the arteries that served them. By the end of the month, there were no cars in the
street outside our house. Other than key workers, numbering perhaps four, no one was using the train. The two station car parks were empty. The school closed. The playgrounds closed. Our local parks seemed too busy, and there was always the risk of meeting other children; trying to keep the under 5s apart was too hard and too damaging. So, we stayed at home. With the dedensification of the city, we gained 4680m2 of extra space
right on our doorstep. Very quickly, the dominance of cars – one of the biggest barriers to giving our children independent mobility – was removed. After a few weeks, families were using the station car parks to teach their small children how to cycle. The specifics of these emptied-out spaces were ideal for this activity and demographic – a hard surface,
closed to traffic, with only one entrance/exit and a barely perceptible slope. Wide enough for swerving, long enough for sudden stops, and big enough to accommodate up to three families at once. At a time when freedom of movement was being curtailed, we as a neighbourhood of young families were able to increase the sense of mobility for our children. This ability to navigate one’s own neighbourhood, safely and independently, is as crucial for young children as it is for teenagers and adults. It’s just a question of scale. By the end of April, as proficiency increased, multiple families were
able to use this space. Adults spaced themselves across the site and children raced in between. They were able to ride together while, due to their speed, remaining separate and distanced from each other. There were no physical changes to either car park, but their use was now dictated by the specific requirements of children ages 3 – 7 on two wheels, and by the social etiquette concerning the psychological rather than physical carrying capacity of these spaces. By May, children moved onto the streets and – for a brief moment – cars gave way to children. In June, the infant school reopened and activities resumed a more normal outlook. The car parks have stopped being used for cycling and are perhaps now awaiting a new use. However, in our house the word ‘car park’ has become synonymous with going for a cycle. Anushka Athique is a landscape architect
Lockdown green belt On the week of March 16th, the sudden lockdown changes sent me packing up my studio materials that had high hopes and all became uncertain. A few of my course mates and I agreed that we were probably a little healthier finishing the stressful last stretch of this course from home, with freshly cooked meals, proper breaks, and a set time for our daily allowance of outdoor exercise, that took the place of what would be social activity, or commuting time. When I first moved to South Edinburgh about two years ago, I was a little frustrated to end up living in the suburbs, far from the centre with less amenities around, and my commute to university from the edge of the city was long and I was often stuck in traffic. Just at the back of the house I lodge in is a thin shelterbelt 8
of woods, and behind that is the continuous sound of construction works for new developer-led housing eating away at designated green belt sites. Walk a little further beyond that and you’ve reached the Edinburgh
bypass that circles around the city, and a pedestrian path that runs parallel to and above a long stretch of the bypass. The traffic is constant, with the sound of lorries, buses and cars all day and all night.
4. Drawing of the station car park. © Anushka Athique
5. A now deserted pedestrian path at peak time. © Menah Shah
6. New housing development on Lasswade Road. © Mena Shah
I found myself using this pedestrian path more often, discovering what lies beyond its two ends by bike, and on foot. I would walk through a paradise of scented spring flowers and lush green shrub, and branch off into a post-industrial nature reserve, catching a glimpse of roe deer, or take a longer ride into the woodland rich Roslin. Another day I discovered an extended route towards Musselburgh and the seafront, and realised it was a comfortable distance
to get to beautiful natural spaces, and not as far as I once thought. The path was buzzing by lunchtime, with people respecting their distance while enjoying the route and greeting one another. I wondered why I had never felt this excitement before on the path. I later realised, as the lockdown eased and vehicles began to fill the streets again, that it was the unpleasant sound of the bypass and car dominance that never really attracted me to this path, or to cycling around my area in general.
With the easing of the lockdown and more social activities slowly taking over, I took myself back to the path after weeks of absence. It was a weekend and peak time for this path to be busy during the time of lockdown, but this time it was absolutely deserted. It made me question the structure of the city, and ask what this land is being used for. With so many new housing developments on the edges of the city that could benefit from such a path, the potential is not being realised. I imagined this long and straight pedestrian path with many more branches to wander off into. I started to envision these green belt sites between the new developments of the peripheries as market gardens to serve the thousands of new people moving in, increased biodiversity and nature reserves, and the noise of play instead of cars. I believe realising this potential could reinforce the protection of green belt land while providing better places and opportunity for sustainable living. Mena Shah is a graduate in landscape architecture at the University of Edinburgh
Emergency measures in Ethiopia Public health is now an indicator we need to integrate in urban planning and landscape design for ensuring people’s protection and wellbeing. The UN Secretary General António Guterres, speaking at the launch of the Policy brief “COVID-19 in an Urban World” in July 2020, agrees that with 90% of reported cases in cities, we need “to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure the cities are resilient to any potential similar risks.” More than ever, landscape architects seek to incorporate public health concerns into the design of everyday landscapes, from walkways to window views. The importance of this work was highlighted when the first cases of COVID-19 were recorded. Landscape architects need
to adapt their approaches to support the response to the pandemic, using the skills within their capacity. In many cities, landscape architects have contributed to the response to the pandemic, by supporting local administrations to identify spaces for ad hoc health facilities, rearrangement of open public spaces, among other activities. Landscape architects ought to contribute to improving urban planning policies, guidelines and practices that ensure cities and settlements are resilient to any potential risks, like the COVID-19 pandemic. A favourable policy environment can support application of public health measures in landscape design, for example by conditioning a minimum percentage of open green space per number of urban dwellers. Despite international
commitments and national urban policies in place, many countries have large urban areas that often remain unplanned or that have underfunded infrastructure and services, with crowded conditions that do not allow physical space for the provision of decent housing and essential services within walking distance from households. With increasing evidence on the health benefits of open public spaces and an emerging need for environmental and public health considerations in designing urban space, landscape architects must increase their engagement in city and settlement planning. Applying public health indicators to measure the impact of our work at operational level, or even at policy/ guidance level, is not only relevant 9
for cities but also for temporary settlements. The national governments and organizations mandated with humanitarian assistance operate under agreed standards and procedures to ensure housing and basic services for all affected individuals. For example, the total open space in a settlement for displaced communities should be no less than 30 m2 per person, the distance between houses at minimum 2 metres, and a minimum 50m of empty space provided for every 300m of build-up area, with one personal washing facility for 100 people and depending on the water flow, preferably supplied through gravity-fed systems on higher ground. The standards and guidance can easily be adapted to different geographical locations and can incorporate various risk prevention measures including viral pandemics. In Ethiopia, one of the first measures taken by settlementsâ€™ management was the identification of potential hot spots in the spread of the virus, mapping the market and open space around the distribution centre areas most at risk. In some cases, the density of the shelters also poses a risk. The government agency managing the settlement then prepares for spatial rearrangement including for relocation of some houses if the shelters are too dense, in order to create space for physical distancing. The main planned interventions in public spaces are the rearrangement of open space, market space redesign, mapping and planning one way access routes across the dense settlements, and ensuring access to hand washing facilities at identified potential hotspots to limit the spread of the virus. Users find it easier to keep required physical distancing and ensuring business continuity at the marketplace. The one way routes ensure people walk in one direction and keep distance, while at market places the vendors and market users will also be able to keep distance from customers and have handwashing stations for their use as often as possible. At household level, families apply prevention measures such as voluntary fencing to ensure privacy and distance from people who pass by the roads and alleys. Usually fencing is an 10
7, 8. Improving and demarcating public space in order to safeguard public health. ÂŠ Oana Baloi
activity driven by cultural norms, but it is now a practice related to public health. The space around the houses is also used differently since people now spend more time in and around the shelter, improving public space between shelters in a manner that creates comfort, shade, provides green vegetation and sometimes food such as pumpkin, nopal, and spices.
Oana Baloi is a landscape architect supporting increased resilience of communities in fast growing settlements and cities in locations with high climate change vulnerability. She is currently working for UNHabitat Ethiopia on urban and settlement planning in response to migration and displacement.
9, 10, 11. The Roding Valley Park trail. ÂŠ Tangina Ahmed
Running through a pandemic With the task of reflecting upon a space that harbours personal connection and familiarity, I have chosen to focus my attention on The Roding Valley Park Trail. The trail is a major component of my typical running circuit and has served as a personal source of escapism for many years. As a committed runner, both prior to and during the pandemic, a clear comparison can be observed that gauges differences in users occupying the space, along with their behaviours. The Roding Valley Park Trail is a green link that runs through the county of Essex. It primarily functions as a network of recreational routes that support walking, running, cycling and horse riding. The route boasts nature reserves, forests, parks, and lakes, and follows the River Roding. Prior to the pandemic, the typical run would consist of navigating populated streets to ultimately emerge onto the vacant trail to begin my run. Immersed in nature, the trail would provide respite from the noise of daily life; however, since March there has been a noticeable inverse in the number of people confronted on the streets to those on the trail. At the peak of lockdown as people grew tired of being cooped up in their homes, many took full advantage of the governmentâ€™s grant of one daily hour of exercise as a mean to momentarily escape confinement. In my local area, this was made evident by the increased activity on the trail and the network of green spaces that are connected to it. As a pre-existing user of the trail, admittedly an innate territorialism inspired a false sense of ownership over the space. The distinct increase in user activity felt much like an intrusion into a personal bubble. Running along this isolated and nature-enriched route has become a form of therapy over the years. Pre-pandemic, the trail had been a reliable getaway that
enabled disconnection from the built world and allowed total immersion into the natural one. At the very most, human contact would be limited to subtle acknowledgments between a handful of runners in passing. Relative to this previous experience, the newly increased footfall creates competition for space, making it that much more difficult to maintain social distancing along the narrow trails.
Instead of running with a clear mind, I now find my thoughts are focused around anticipating a potential sidestep into shrubbery in order to maintain a safeÂ distance. In addition to the seemingly new community of lockdown-established runners, walkers and cyclists active on the trails, there has also been a significant increase in the number of passive users in the open spaces
12. Queen Square, Bristol.
adjacent to the trails. The sports pitches, for instance, are now frequented by sunbathers, picnickers and gatherers of all ages. A recent run situated me in the presence of a young family of four collectively flying kites, a rather rare analogue activity in this digital era that arguably has been encouraged by the mental effects of lockdown.
Although the trail and the surrounding open spaces have had no major changes implemented, the users and the ways in which they occupy the space have evolved, highlighting a shift in priorities since March. This could signify a new milestone for public health, as people continue to adjust their relationship with open
green space, reflecting an enhanced appreciation for both mental and physical health. Tangina Ahmed is a graduate landscape architect at Gensler who recently graduated from the University of Greenwich
Good for kids? Queen Square is a staple of my life in Bristol. For three years it has been my local park, my route to work and a place to relax. It has always felt safe, friendly and familiar, and that felt more important than ever during the upheaval and uncertainty of lockdown. Then as the weeks went by, I noticed other people beginning to use the space for the first time. Queen Square is a splendid Georgian space, surrounded by tall terraces of offices and big trees. It is usually buzzing with people during the summer, never more than after 5pm on a sunny day when masses of young professionals like me spill out onto the spacious lawns. Picnics, cider, volleyball and laughter; the quintessential Bristol summer vibe. Queen Square works hard in other ways too, hosting festivals, boules, arts, runs and protests.After lockdown, it emptied out but that turned out to be a moment of change. A stone’s throw from Queen Square is South Redcliffe, a high density council estate. Its community includes large families, many of whom have a BAME background. South Redcliffe lacks good open green space – as does that whole part of central Bristol. But even in the warmest weather, I had never noticed any of those families in Queen Square before. The vacuum left by office workers started to be filled. Every afternoon, I would join a slow stream of people from Redcliffe on their way to Queen 12
Square, to stroll, mill about, kickabout and assemble for picnics. The square came alive again with the sound of laughter. As we emerged from lockdown, the reopening of shops and restaurants started to bring the usual crowds back to Queen Square. It is a big space, but still it looked like a pendulum had started to swing and the families melted away. For weeks on end, Queen Square showed its potential to fulfil a real local need and it is no longer doing that. What needs to change in order for everyone to find Queen Square safe, friendly and familiar? Did the families just need more time to feel proper and lasting ownership of their new local park? Does the raucousness of a packed square put families off? Are there any subtle, even subconscious hints that
this space is not for them? Or is the problem with the locality? Between the estate and the square are heavily trafficked roads, and perhaps it was the return of vehicles as lockdown lifted, the speed, noise and pollution, which made the short walk feel too dangerous for families to take. There is one lasting marker from the time, though, albeit a virtual one. It can be found on Google Maps, where now a line under Queen Square, for the first time, says ‘Good for kids.’ I like to think that with spaces in and near the square designed and managed differently, it would be possible for all Bristolians to share the space fairly. Rihards Sobols is a masterplanner and urbanist based in LDA Design’s Bristol studio
© Rihards Sobols
F E AT U R E By Ben Brown
How green is our recovery? We have only a few years remaining to turn the tide on global climate change and biodiversity loss. It’s vital that our economic recovery from COVID-19 addresses this, by investing in green, nature-based infrastructure. In September, the LI published Greener Recovery.
Office of National Statistics, Monthly GDP figures, April-June 2020: https://www. ons.gov.uk/economy/ grossdomestic productgdp/articles/ coronavirusandthe impactonoutputinthe ukeconomy/june2020 1
he UK is now officially in its worst ever recession on record. GDP shrank 20.4% in April alone – more than twenty times the largest monthly drop during the Great Recession in 2008 – and is on track for its biggest decline in 100 years.1 This isn’t confined to the UK. Governments around the world are scrambling to put recovery plans in place to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, with somewhere around $10 trillion of stimulus packages pledged so far. The UK Government announced around £160 billion in spending at its unprecedented Summer Statement, and promised further announcements later in the autumn. In spite of the pandemic’s devastating economic consequences, though, it’s had a hugely positive effect on overall CO2 emissions. And just as economies begin to once again pick up pace, emissions are starting to rebound too. Government stimulus packages can either seek to address this, or they can worsen it. Though stimulus tends to be ‘value neutral’ about the types of businesses it supports, it has in the past often favoured high-carbon sectors. In the UK, industries such as aviation,
LI Policy Paper | August 2020
Delivering a sustainable recovery from COVID-19 How investing in better places can support the UK’s recovery from Coronavirus whilst tackling climate change
F E AT U R E
automotive and oil and gas services have been among the largest recipients of Bank of England loans. If government investment doesn’t explicitly target climate change, it will have major consequences for our ability to meet our 2050 net zero obligations. It is now widely accepted that the coronavirus comeback cannot ignore the fact that we have only a few years remaining to address climate change and biodiversity loss. An unsustainable recovery will only create new problems
further down the road – not least the health inequalities that COVID-19 has exposed, and which climate change will only worsen. At the macroeconomic level, the UK has so far been relatively green, by comparison with the poor approaches taken by other countries, many of whom have heavily deregulated and invested in high carbon activity. Though we do lag behind some, like France, who have made high environmental spending commitments.
The UK government’s announce ments so far include accelerating capital spend on infrastructure, housing, and public realm, some of which has been directed to green infrastructure: most notably the proposed new Mayfield Park in Manchester and the ‘Grey to Green’ project in Leeds City Centre.2 They’ve also allocated some money for direct environmental improvements, such as a £40 million Green Jobs Challenge Fund.3 But the problem is much larger than that, and the solution must be too. Climate change isn’t just a concern for the green energy sector – it demands a structural change across the whole economy, including how we invest in, design, and manage our built environment. As well as addressing climate change and kickstarting the economy, this recovery provides an opportunity to address wider health and social inequalities. Issues such as air pollution (COVID-19 is, after all, a respiratory disease) won’t improve with a stimulus package that prioritises grey infrastructure, roads, and windowless flats. The lockdown emphasised the huge value of green space: parks became a lifeline for millions, championed by politicians and scientists (including the Prime Minister and each of the devolved nation’s Chief Medical Officers) as key to people’s health. Working with its members, the Landscape Institute has published a Greener Recovery paper that sets out how landscape can be an integral part of the UK’s recovery from coronavirus. The paper covers five top-level principles for action: 1. Take a natural capital approach to new infrastructure and housing Public money should not fund unsustainable, unhealthy, poorlydesigned places. By taking a natural capital approach,4 even a modest reallocation of the money spent on grey infrastructure could bring enormous benefits, by investing in urban greening, parks, SuDS, active transport, etc. Recent research suggests that a £5.5 billion investment in urban green infrastructure, for example, would generate over £200 billion of physical and mental health benefits.5
1, Signs of life in the London Wall. © Paul Lincoln
MHCLG, List of Getting Building Fund projects, August 2020: https:// www.gov.uk/guidance/ getting-building-fund 2
https://www.gov.uk/ government/news/ government-announces40-million-green-jobschallenge-fund 3
A ‘natural capital approach’ means identifying and quantifying the value of the natural environment (via the ecosystem services it provides), such that it can be better embedded into decision making. 4
‘Levelling up and building back better through urban green infrastructure: an investment options appraisal’, Vivid Economics for the National Trust, 2020: https://www. vivideconomics.com/wpcontent/uploads/2020/07/ Greenkeeper-Reportfor-FPA-GreeningProgramme-July-2020.pdf 5
F E AT U R E
Green Stimulus Index
2. This work was undertaken by Vivid Economics as part of the Finance for Biodiversity (F4B) initiative.
Green Stimulus Index 60
© Vivid Economics
France European Commission
Canada South Korea
-100 Positive Contribution
Source: Vivid Economics using a variety of sources, consult Annex II for the entire list of sources Source: Vivid Economics using a variety of sources, consult Annex II for the entire list of sources Note: The European Commission score is calculated assuming that the proposed ‘Next Generation EU’ recovery package Note: The European Commission score is calculated assuming that the proposed ‘Next Generation EU’ recovery package and related environmental measures are implemented in full. Its score is provisional. Updated on July 21, 2020. and related environmental measures are implemented in full. Its score is provisional. Updated on July 21, 2020.
Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment, 2018/19 data, https://assets. publishing.service. gov.uk/government/ uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/ file/828552/Monitor_ Engagement_Natural_ Environment_2018_2019_ v2.pdf 6
ONS, analysis of Ordnance Survey and MENE data, (2020), https://www.ons. gov.uk/economy/ environmentalaccounts/ articles/oneineight britishhouseholdshasno garden/ 2020-05-14 7
Natural Capital Committee, Advice on using nature based interventions to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (April 2020) https:// assets.publishing.service. gov.uk/ government/ uploads/system/ uploads/ attachment_data/ file/879797/ncc-naturebased-interventions.pdf 8
2. Invest in maintenance and renewal of existing places To meet the UK’s climate obligations, we must make the most of the places we’ve already got. During COVID-19, we’ve seen a huge transformation in the way we use public spaces like parks and high streets, and the way we travel to them. Reinventing these places as green, healthy and accessible spaces will ensure their long-term sustainability, but only if we also secure resource funding for maintenance, not just capital expenditure. 3. Set higher and fairer standards for green space Economically deprived communities are less likely to live near quality green spaces. 2.6 million people do not live within a 10-minute walk of a park.6 Black people are nearly four times likelier than white people to have no access to outdoor space at home.7 This isn’t just about the recreational benefits of green space – as our cities heat up and flooding worsens, it’s
increasingly becoming an issue of climate justice. Some countries and cities are setting ambitious standards, such as Arnhem in Denmark, who have minimum grass-to-concrete ratios. The UK should do the same. 4. Invest in natural solutions to climate change A healthy natural environment is a bedrock for all economic activity, and climate change puts this at risk. As well as ensuring that its housing and infrastructure investment is green, the government needs to invest in nature directly. The Natural Capital Committee recently reported that woodland planted on the outskirts of urban settlements, for example, would deliver nearly £550 million per year in benefits such as recreation, carbon capture and biodiversity.8 None of this is possible without passing a strong Environment Bill, ensuring that we maintain EU-level protections for nature.
5. Create a step-change in green skills, digital, and data Lockdown has been disruptive. But as our economy emerges from it, we can work to ensure that this disruption leads to positive change. Simply ‘getting Britain building again’, with nostrings-attached investment, will result in us reverting to all the old ways of working and the same poor outcomes. COVID-19 provides an opportunity to make the built environment sector more digital, efficient and productive. To do so, an investment in people and skills is needed. Download our Greener Recovery policy paper here https://landscapewpstorage01. blob.core.windows.net/ www-landscapeinstituteorg/2020/09/12332-greenerrecovery-v6.pdf Ben Brown is head of policy and insight at the Landscape Institute
F E AT U R E By Matthew Ling
The benefits of tree cover 1
The Cambridge Canopy Project seeks to increase tree canopy cover across the city of Cambridge, particularly in areas of deprivation where the greatest level of benefits will beÂ realised.
ockdown restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic forced many of us to stay within the confines of our homes for months. Some of us have houses with private gardens, some with shared gardens, and some with balconies. Others, however, have no access to outside spaces connected to their properties at all. For those 16
of us with limited or no access to the outdoors, public open spaces are an essential asset, providing the opportunity to escape the four walls within which they reside. Increasingly, this was realised during lockdown, with greater numbers of people using parks and greens, and interacting with green spaces in new ways. Such reliance
on public open spaces places a lens in front of their quality, as not all spaces are made equal. The multifaceted benefits we receive from being exposed to natural spaces and features continues to be studied and better understood. But the links to increased physical and mental wellbeing are clear. However, the current crisis has highlighted that barriers
1. Jesus Green, Cambridge. Public open spaces provide many important services and benefits to their users. ÂŠ Matthew Ling, 2020
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2. Distribution of Cambridge’s urban forest by ownership type (N.B. Tree canopies not to scale) © Crown Copyright and database right 2015. Ordnance Survey Licence No. 100019730.
3. Tree canopy cover in Cambridge by ward; overlaid with ownership type © Crown Copyright and database right 2015. Ordnance Survey Licence No. 100019730.
exist preventing some parts of society benefitting equally from these assets. In Cambridge, UK, there are numerous parks and other green open spaces for the public to access and enjoy. Modelling of visitor numbers, based on data from the ‘Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment’ (MENE) survey, shows that Cambridge’s green spaces receive 2.7 million visits annually. The total annual benefits received from these visits is valued at £67 million; – £36 million of which is realised in mental health benefits1 – underlining the crucial role they provide. However, even in Cambridge, there is disparity in the level of access residents have to green spaces and features. Using tree canopy cover as a metric, it is possible to observe these differences. Average tree canopy cover across the city is 17%, varying across wards depending on the age of the respective part of the city, and other pressures such as infrastructure.
The greatest canopy cover is found in Newnham (22.6%), and the lowest in the Cherry Hinton (12.8%) and Abbey (12.9%) 2 wards. This unequal distribution of trees and green spaces across the city will impact residents in different ways. Citizens residing in more affluent areas with private gardens are likely to be less dependent on public open spaces or tree-lined streets when compared to residents in more deprived areas with limited or no access to gardens or outside space. In areas of deprivation, residents will not benefit from the stress relief, alleviation of depression, nor reduction in crime that trees provide. Very often, it is those in the most deprived areas that benefit from these provisions the most.3 Yet it is the most affluent parts of Cambridge that are, in fact, most well catered for in terms of tree canopy cover. Every neighbourhood in Newnham ward is classified as being amongst the 20% least deprived in the
country. In contrast, using Abbey ward as an indicative example, of its six neighbourhoods, two are in the 20% most deprived in the country, and one in each of the 30%, 40% and 50% most deprived categories.4 Research has confirmed this, identifying a positive correlation between tree canopy cover and deprivation in Cambridge, and this pattern has been observed across the UK.5 The 2019 MENE survey found that the two most deprived sections of society, according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation, had the greatest disagreement with the following statement: ‘Local greenspaces are within easy walking distance.’6 This disparity in access to green spaces can be referred to as ‘tree inequity’7 or the ‘nature gap’8, and to address it, we must strive for landscape justice.9 The Cambridge Canopy Project – a Cambridge City Council initiative under the Interreg 2 Seas programme’s ‘Nature Smart
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Cities’ project – seeks to do exactly that. By analysing existing tree canopy cover against areas of deprivation, it is possible to prioritise areas of greatest need for tree planting and community engagement. By focusing on these priority areas, we aim to increase exposure and access to trees and canopy cover, and the wealth of benefits that they provide, specifically for those that need it the most. Cambridge is the UK’s most unequal city – income in the city is more unevenly distributed among its residents than in any other city measured, including London – and the third least affordable.10 In terms of figures, the Centre for Cities think tank states that the top 6% of earners in the city receive 19% of the total income, in contrast to the bottom 20%, who take home only 2% of the total.11 Factors including affluence and quality of local environment act in combination to impact upon quality of life and, indeed, life expectancy. Data presented by the Consumer Data Research Centre, showing estimated life expectancies for children born between 2009 and 2013, reveal an almost 10-year disparity between the
most and least affluent parts of the city. Newnham ward has an average life expectancy of 87.3 years, whereas in King’s Hedges it is 78.2 years.12 Tree planting in the areas of greatest need could help to redress the balance. Researchers in Philadelphia found that 403 premature deaths could be avoided annually if tree canopy cover in areas of lower socioeconomic status were to be increased to a minimum of 30%.13 Despite Cambridge’s unequal and unaffordable nature, it continues to grow. From 2014-2018, it was the fastest growing city in the UK in terms of year-on-year employment growth.14 This looks set to continue, with the share of jobs in occupations likely to shrink calculated as 12.9%, with only Oxford scoring lower (12.8%).15 With jobs, come houses; alongside Telford, between 2015 and 2016, Cambridge topped the figures for housing stock growth, expanding by 1.7%.16 As cities continue to grow and densify, and new threats like zoonotic diseases emerge, it is increasingly important to consider the quality of our urban environments to deliver on multiple fronts. Specifically, we must consider the climate and ecological
Vivid Economics. (Undated, unpublished).
ttps://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/ h government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/904439/Improving_access_to_ greenspace_2020_review.pdf
ttp://dclgapps.communities.gov.uk/imd/iod_index. h html ttps://www.cambridge.gov.uk/media/8131/theh importance-of-neighbourhood-trees-for-quality-of-life. pdf ttps://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/ h uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/ file/828552/Monitor_Engagement_Natural_ Environment_2018_2019_v2.pdf
emergencies, and seek to benefit the physical and mental wellbeing of city users. The coronavirus pandemic has placed greater focus on this, with people realising that there is an alternative to the ‘business as usual’ approach of cities globally. The way in which this will manifest itself is not yet clear, but people have placed much more importance and value on accessing green spaces, having clean air, being able to hear birds singing instead of engines idling, and feeling a greater sense of community that these factors encourage. And this must all be managed in a way that delivers across all parts of the socioeconomic spectrum. The Cambridge Canopy Project is part of the Interreg 2 Seas 2014-2020 Programme’s ‘Nature Smart Cities across the 2 Seas’ project, which is co-funded by the European Regional development Fund under subsidy contract No. 2S05-048. Dr Matthew Ling is the Project Lead for the Cambridge Canopy Project at Cambridge City Council
ttps://www.centreforcities.org/wp-content/ h uploads/2018/01/18-01-12-Final-Full-CitiesOutlook-2018.pdf
h ttps://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/ jan/12/beyond-cambridge-spires-most-unequal-citytackles-poverty
ttps://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/ h PIIS2542-5196(20)30058-9/fulltext
h ttps://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resource/choicelook-inequality-cambridge; https://irwinmitchell.turtl.co/story/uk-powerhousejanuary-2020
ttps://www.centreforcities.org/wp-content/ h uploads/2018/01/18-01-12-Final-Full-CitiesOutlook-2018.pdf
ttps://www.centreforcities.org/wp-content/ h uploads/2018/01/18-01-12-Final-Full-CitiesOutlook-2018.pdf
4. Relative tree canopy cover (%) by ward in Cambridge. Cambridge City Council, 2016
5. Medium density residential housing, Romsey ward, Cambridge. Average tree canopy cover in this land use type across the city is c. 20%. 2013 aerial photography © Bluesky International Limited
F E AT U R E By Anna Sieczak
Cycle revolution Being a cyclist makes you see the streets differently but being a landscape architect offers a completely new view of the city argues Anna Sieczak. 1. Cycling during the lockdown, in the park. @AnnaSieczak
53% of people appreciate local green spaces more since the lockdown1
100% increase in weekday cycling and 200% increase during weekends, compared to pre-COVID-19 levels3
60% fall in air pollution in parts of the UK4
ities are an immense laboratory of trial and error, failure and success in city building and city design. This is the laboratory in which city planning should have been learning and forming and testing its theories.” Jane Jacobs, ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’ (1961). The last few months have been tests of, among other things, our relationship with the city and how we travel within it. Governments and local authorities were forced to apply temporary institutional measures in an effort to stop the pandemic: widened pavements, temporary bike lanes, car-free streets or speed limits – all happened rapidly. This rapid shift forced us to re-evaluate our relationship with the city. We have had the opportunity to look closely at the places we live in and, while we were looking, we were also listening, lingering and rethinking. The new normal we saw was one of the streets as places with people walking and cycling, of clean air and local green spaces appreciated. We experienced the cities without cars, perhaps for the first time, wandering around our neighbourhood, discovering new routes and local green spaces. There are a few reasons cycling has become more prevalent during a pandemic: to avoid public transport, to enjoy the beautiful weather, and to take advantage of the empty roads.
It is not cycling that is dangerous but the environment in which we cycle. Change the environment, take out the risk, and people will cycle and walk. Empty of cars, the streets have been seen as safe to cycle. This perceived safety also allowed less confident or first-time cyclists to combat their fear and anxiety. Perceived safety is a critical factor in the pattern of changes in human behaviour. Empty streets
and bollards separating the traffic lifted two main barriers that stop people from cycling: the structural barrier (vehicular traffic on the roads and lack of safe, segregated bike lanes) and the emotional barrier (the feeling of discomfort, the lack of safety, and lack of representation). More “women, older people, disabled people, people from ethnic minority groups and people at risk 19
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2. Cycling during the lockdown, new LTN Lambeth. © LambethCyclists
3. Isabelle Clement. Wheels for Wellbeing Director, urban handcyclist. Using one of the improvements in Lambeth. © IsabelleClement
4. Tactical, temporary, social distance barriers. © BikelinesLnd
5. Oyster Wheel view from Box Hil, loop 8l. © TimBoden
6. Cycling – Railton LTN in Lambeth. © LambethCyclists
7. Cycling – Railton LTN in Lambeth. © LambethCyclists
of deprivation” are cycling now or consider cycling5. With an increasingly diverse cohort of people who cycle emerging, cycling becomes visually accessible to people of different races, genders, classes, abilities. Seeing other people, just like us, is encouraging, and gives the message that “I too can cycle”6. Paris implemented the quickest measures, supported by the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, elected this year for the second time. Her motto was “fighting for a different vision of the world – a world that takes care of our most precious resources: the air we breathe, the water we drink and the places we share.” Paris has become a “15 minute city”, where people rely on active forms of transport, with 50 kilometres reserved for bicycles, including the famous Rue de Rivoli, and 30 pedestrian-only streets7. Milan is transforming 22 miles of local streets with bike lanes, wider sidewalks and lower speed limits, allocating space for more people on streets and embracing the 15 minute city concept at the centre of the postCOVID recovery8. 20
Interestingly Amsterdam and Utrecht, two long-established cycling cities, have integrated their COVID-19 response into long-term strategies, such as Utrecht’s Healthy Urban Living strategy (based on UN 2030 Agenda of SDGs) 9. The Dutch have just carried on with their cycling, as the cultural shift and systemic change (legislation and streetscape design) happened back in the 50s and 70s. London offers two examples of grassroots cycling initiatives, both very different and both born from a passion for cycling. BikelinesLND10 proposes a segregated and direct network of fast cycle routes to the city centre from Zone 4 and beyond, organised along the colour-coded routes of the Underground network to make them legible and easy to navigate, plus cycle parking. “The network of meandering configurations allows buses, taxis and delivery vehicles to flow around one another and make contact safely with the kerb without bringing them into conflict with bicycles.” The proposal aims to accommodate high use during peak hours11.
The Oyster Wheel is made up of eight cycle loops around London, with each of its “spokes” finishing at Tower Bridge. The circular routes are using the Sustrans and Quietways networks where possible, and focus on health benefits and exercise, while enhancing the Green Belt and increasing our contact with nature12. The lockdown resulted in the rapid implementation of long-term programmes, like the Streetspace for London project and the Railton Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) (initially planned for 2023) 13. In Tower Hamlets, the Skew Bridge on Old Ford Road was closed for cars and open for active travel as part of the Liveable Streets Scheme developed before lockdown, meaning it was now possible to test the project’s aims: improved road safety, air quality, and reduced noise pollution14 . According to Transport for London (TFL), 57km of new or improved cycle routes have been created in London, with the aim of 450km of new cycleways by 202415. Although there are voices of opposition, generally the public approval of these changes is high:
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8. Patterns of arrangement for BikelinesLND, diagram. © AnnaSieczak
9. Bikelines routes map. © BikelinesLnd
10. Oyster Wheel map. © TimBoden
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11. The section of the CS3 in Tower Hamlet was improved in early 2020: SUDS, trees and mixed pollinator friendly planting, part of Liveable Streets scheme by LBoTH & Project Centre. © AnnaSieczak
12. Trees provide shade and cool down the asphalt. © AnnaSieczak
– 64% in support of the temporary provision of new cycle lanes, or wider existing cycle lanes, to aid social distancing – 57% in support of the permanent changes16. In July, the Prime Minister announced £2bn for a ‘cycling and walking revolution’ in England, a new policy plan for cycling and walking17 and a review of ‘The Highway Code to improve road safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders’18. This was perhaps influenced by the Dutch ‘Presume Liability Law’, where the larger vehicle is always responsible in the event of an accident, every road user is obliged to look after the vulnerable, and ‘All motorised traffic has to give way when turning left or right to people on bicycles.’ Five principles are fundamental in the creation of inclusive cycling space in order for them to be safe, and be perceived as such. Cycleways must be “Coherent, Direct, Safe, Comfortable and Attractive”, as set out in the Local Transport note 1/20 on New Cycle infrastructure design (LTN 1/20) published on 27 July19.
Being a cyclist makes you see the streets differently. Being a landscape architect makes you see the city differently. Combined multifunctional active travel and green infrastructure, provides benefits to local communities and the whole city. Integrated greenery with suitable tree planting does not just create a ‘pleasant route’, it also has many measurable benefits and functions. It can: – Create habitats and enhance biodiversity – Provide CO2 storage and save CO2 emissions – Improve air quality – lowering N02 and PM10 pollution, filtering fine particles pollution – Manage rainwater – SuDS, cleaning, storing, infiltrating, etc.… – Have a cooling effect – reducing urban heat effect – Promote physical activity – walking, wheeling, running, cycling, etc. – Benefit physical health – reducing cardiac disease, strokes, and asthma due to improved air quality – Benefit mental wellbeing – reducing stress, anxiety, depression
ttp://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/ h cities-policy-responses-fd1053ff/#endnotea0z214
13. Reducing traffic and introducing the cycle line improved life of all residents.
– Create stronger communities, as well as age-friendly and inclusive neighbourhoods20 The lockdown tests on cities have provided us with evidence that the current city and transport infrastructure design, centred around cars, is no longer valid, and that the rapid change is possible. Inclusive street design for active transport, green infrastructure – 15-minute cities and well design green spaces – are the changes that are necessary to create resilient cities and combat the climate emergency. The lockdown allowed for these approaches to be implemented and tested, and their success should put active transport and green infrastructure at the heart of the Green Recovery.
Anna Sieczak is an independent landscape architect, garden design lecturer at Capel Manor College and CADAP member for Tower Hamlets, London.
h ttps://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/routes-and-maps/ cycleways
ttps://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/ h review-of-the-highway-code-to-improve-road-safetyfor-cyclists-pedestrians-and-horse-riders
F E AT U R E By Graham Duxbury
Equity and landscape The CEO of Groundwork asks if we can fashion a green and fair COVID-19 recovery.
https://www.ons. gov.uk/releases/ accesstogardensand publicgreenspacein greatbritain
https://assets. publishing.service. gov.uk/government/ uploads/system/ uploads/attachment_ data/file/904439/ Improving_ access_to_ greenspace_2020_ review.pdf
h ttps://www. sportengland. org/news/surgeappreciation-exerciseand-activity-duringlockdown
h ttps://www.health. org.uk/publications/ reports/the-marmotreview-10-years-on
h ttps://www.gov. uk/government/ publications/ outdoors-for-all-fairaccess-to-a-goodquality-naturalenvironment/ outdoors-for-all-fairaccess-to-a-goodquality-naturalenvironment
he speed with which COVID-19 brought the world to a halt is a graphic illustration of our global interconnectedness. As with other powerful global forces – from conflict to the climate emergency – those hit hardest by the pandemic have been those who were already suffering most inequality. Deaths in the UK have been disproportionate in disadvantaged areas and among BAME communities, and the legacy of the virus on our health and jobs will weigh most heavily in those same areas. One of the bright spots amid the gloom has been the narrative around society’s reconnection with nature. The role of green spaces in keeping us physically fit and mentally well has come to the fore, and how often we can visit the park, and who with, has been a barometer of our confidence to unlock society. What this narrative masks is that, for some people, this isn’t the gradual return of cherished freedoms, but an ongoing reminder of what they lack. One in eight homes in England has no garden, with the figure much higher among black families than white.1 Data from Natural England consistently shows that people living in more disadvantaged areas, people from BAME communities and people with disabilities or long-term health conditions visit parks and green spaces less frequently than others.2 There is
a strong correlation3 between these groups and people who are less physically active (according to Sport England) and a clear ‘read-across’ to people and areas experiencing health inequalities, as highlighted by Professor Marmot.4 The pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated this inequity, providing a stark reminder that, for people in certain communities, green spaces may be close by but remain off-putting or off-limits. For some, the issues are systemic – where green spaces are located, how they can be accessed, and whether or not they have decent facilities. For others the barriers are about relevance or confidence – perceptions of who and what green spaces are for, how people behave in them, and how to make the most of them. These issues are not new, but COVID-19 has intensified the challenge. How to address that challenge in the context of a ‘green recovery’ is at the core of a debate being taken forward under the auspices of the National Outdoors for All Working Group5, convened by Natural England. We need to start by understanding the financial, health and social realities of the post-COVID-19 period. Budgets to manage parks and green spaces have seen a steep reduction in the last ten years, and financial pressures will only increase in the months ahead as local authorities consider how to cope with an estimated £5.5bn
in lost income and spiralling social care costs. At the same time, travel restrictions, the ‘staycation’ boom and anxiety about indoor attractions means an unprecedented increase in visitor numbers, with all the associated maintenance challenges that entails. Some people who consider themselves vulnerable will be experiencing physical ‘deconditioning’ as a result of extended inactivity, which may make them even less likely to visit open spaces. Meanwhile, for many with underlying conditions, the easing of lockdown will lead to ongoing anxiety about the safety of being in places which may become crowded. Finally, the renewed focus on tackling racism adds urgency to the questions about how well diverse voices are heard in the design and delivery of local services and the management of public institutions. The parks, landscape and conservation sectors are not seen to be representative of wider society and often default to certain norms in terms of the way green and blue spaces are managed and promoted, including the behaviours that might be expected of people using them. As well as highlighting the challenges, this debate also creates an opportunity to put parks and urban green or blue spaces at the forefront of thinking about how we emerge from the pandemic stronger. A growth in visitor numbers means there is a wider group of 23
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People from minority ethnic groups are less likely to have access to a private garden Percentage of people with access to a private garden, by ethnic group, England, 2014 to 2019 All White Mixed Asian Black Other % 0
I don’t have access to a garden I have access to a private outdoor space (balcony, yard, patio area) but not a garden I have access to a private communal garden I have access to a private garden
people to influence and engage in activities which lock in positive health and environmental behaviours. The need to provide ongoing support for people who are vulnerable, in poor health or convalescing, presents the opportunity to position green spaces as a more important part of our national infrastructure to keep people well. The increased focus on health inequalities and racism paves the way for a conversation about the value of parks and green spaces in promoting cultural understanding and cohesion, and in levelling up opportunity to lead a healthy life. In thinking about where we go from here, we need to recognise that the majority of green and blue spaces in our urban areas are the result of historic attitudes to leisure and recreation, or a by-product of previous industrial activities. This heritage value is important and needs to be protected. However, it also risks this infrastructure being seen as the preserve of certain sections of society. In the US, the Sierra Club’s apology6 24
over the views of its founder, John Muir, has sparked a debate about the role of national parks in reinforcing ‘self-segregation’. Closer to home, Dr Bridget Snaith’s work on equalities in landscape is opening up a similar debate around ‘parks and prejudice’.7 Unless we take a step back and ask again what the purpose of these spaces should be, our planning, design and management processes are likely to perpetuate exclusion. As a sector, we need to find better ways of consulting to find out what people want from their parks and green spaces, and using those processes to challenge our accepted assumptions. This starts with planning and design, but then incorporates the maintenance and ‘activation’ of spaces. There is a real opportunity to embed inclusion, equity and environmental justice into work already underway to explore alternative maintenance models, and to build stronger local ownership that helps land managers build partnerships with a more diverse pool of community and voluntary organisations.
We know that excluded groups are not ‘hard to reach’ and that, instead, some people find organisations in the landscape and nature sector ‘hard to access’. Many of the target groups who would benefit most from what the sector can offer are simply unaware of its existence, or unsure about how to connect with it. Competition for resources often leads to overlapping initiatives aimed at bridging this divide, and can actually increase the disconnect between larger bodies and communityled organisations representing specific marginalised groups. The concept of ‘generous leadership’ involves working to achieve a better balance of power and resources between organisations of different scales and levels of capacity. In resource-constrained times, it is a challenge to work in this way, but it will be necessary do so if we are to build an organisational ecosystem with the reach, resources and relevance to empower a wider diversity of people. As we emerge from hibernation, we have an opportunity to reconfigure both our green and social infrastructure
Source: Natural England – Monitor of Engagement with Natural Environmental survey
https://www. sfchronicle.com/ politics/article/SierraClub-distancesitself-from-JohnMuir-15426324.php
and h ttps://abcnews. go.com/Politics/ americas-nationalparks-faceexistential-crisis-race/ story?id=71528972 7
https://repository. uel.ac.uk/ researcher/80347/ dr-bridget-snaith
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Frequency of visits by key demographics (Percentage of adult population – 2018 to 2019)
% of adults
Once or twice a month
Less than once a month or never
White bgs. (not British or Irish)
At least once a week
16-24 25-35 35-44 45-54 55-64
Figure shows how frequency varied across key demographics, with larger proportions of infrequent visitors in the oldest age groups, lower socio economic groups and people from BAME backgrounds.
Local greenspaces are ‘within easy walking distance’ Strongly Agree responses By ONS Rural – Urban classification
(Percentage of adult population – 2018 to 2019)
By Index of Multiple Deprivation 38
Village, hamlet or isolated dwelling
Town and fringe
Least deprived 20%
Most deprived 20%
16-24 25-35 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
https://www.gov. uk/government/ collections/monitor-ofengagement-with-thenatural-environmentsurvey-purpose-andresults
% of adults
Source: Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment – The national survey on people and the natural environment
By social group
By age 100%
Figure shows that people strongly agreeing that ‘my local greenspaces are within easy walking distance’ are more likely to be aged between 35 and 64, those from white backgrounds, those who live in the most affluent areas and those who live in more rural areas.
in a way that harnesses the community spirit that has flowered during the crisis, and that prepares all of us better for future emergencies. To make our recovery both green and fair, we need to prioritise the needs of the places that have borne the brunt and the people who are paying the highest cost.
The National Outdoors for All Working Group is convening a number of green recovery discussions, bringing together organisations promoting engagement with nature and green space with those representing the interests of excluded groups. Making links across and between sectors to
build a broader coalition for change is a key part of the approach. Graham Duxbury is Chief Executive of Groundwork UK, and can be contacted for further information on this initiative. 25
F E AT U R E By Steve McAdam and Gabrielle Appiah
Consultation and engagement in a fast-changing landscape As the consequences of COVID-19 in the use of public space emerge, the impact on different communities needs to be understood argue Soundings’ Steve McAdam and Gabrielle Appiah.
he COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the importance of public and green space in providing people with a refuge for meeting, relaxing, taking exercise and relieving the mental stresses of crowded domestic environments. In March 2020, the government announced a new slogan – “Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives”. These words formed the start of unprecedented changes to the behaviour of individuals in the way our streets, green spaces and immediate locality are viewed and experienced. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of journeys made by car and public transport decreased, and the number of pedestrian and cycle-based journeys increased. Individuals tended to make shorter journeys in the local area for essential purposes like shopping. Interestingly this is now matched by those taking exercise outside, possibly a learned behaviour in response to ‘legal use’ of outdoor space. Frequent trips to the supermarket on the way to and from work were replaced by one large weekly shop at the supermarket, supplemented by more trips to specialised shops on the local high street. The relationship between private and public realm changed dramatically as social and physical barriers began 26
1. Exhibition Boards for Brent Cross South Replacement Claremont Primary School Consultation with links to an online exhibition (on display at Claremont Primary School). © Gabrielle Appiah
to melt while we stood outside and clapped for the NHS on Thursday evening’s, took part in social distancing events with our neighbours, and witnessed children playing outside in the streets and roads due to the spectacular decrease in vehicular use. Though unintended, government guidelines on permitted excursions caused an unusual divide to open up,
one that hadn’t been examined before – the divide between those who had access to private open space, and those who didn’t. ‘Communal’ space became second best, and balconies and front and back gardens suddenly became a luxury. For those who didn’t have their own private space, local public open spaces such as parks became essential. Parks and ‘public
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2. Northfields Masterplan Online Interactive Workshop. © Gabrielle Appiah
Temporary measures, such as pop-up cycle lanes or widening pavements for social distancing, allow us a unique opportunity to trial whether we want them to become permanent in the future.
open space’ were becoming more and more a basic human right for many who could not afford or access their own outdoor spaces or indeed, ‘nature’. However, this was limited by government restrictions in terms of numbers, uses and length of visit. In this there was a strange echo of the urban poor of a century ago for whom nature was a luxury. In May 2020, the government advice changed, and so did the slogan – now we were encouraged to “Stay Alert [no longer ‘at home’], Control the Virus, Save Lives”. This led to another shift where public open spaces became more greatly appreciated and heavily used. Parks and beaches, and indeed anywhere that was ‘public’, became havens in good weather, allowing people to safely meet up with friends and family they hadn’t seen in months while still adhering to social distancing guidelines. Travel modes and journey types changed too: ‘Active travel’ became a more popular way to get around, with walking or cycling a safer alternative to avoid the use of crowded public transport services for those now commuting to work again or engaging in social or leisure pursuits. The allocation of space shifted accordingly to allow for queueing outside shops, eating outdoors and for more people walking or cycling. In this we have seen a kind of democratisation of public space as the relationship between individuals and public realm has shifted. Individuals have piloted new ways of enjoying public space, from ‘enforced’ family outings, to sport and creative play, and the social value of supportive venues has increased. The public realm has demonstrated its excellent ability to absorb new drives for exercising, socialising and sustainable forms of travelling. However, these conditions are ‘provisional’ and the consequences, though enjoyed, are a by-product of the coronavirus pandemic; an unexpected result, rather than a targeted outcome. What we need to decide is if these by-products should, instead, have their own policies in place. If so, how do we ensure that changes to parks, streets and other
spaces are properly made for the benefit of those communities most in need of these changes? Local and regional authorities are now investing in an overhaul of the urban environment, and at speed. Temporary measures, such as pop-up cycle lanes or widening pavements for social distancing, allow us a unique opportunity to trial whether we want them to become permanent in the future. The ‘sacrifices’ (essentially restricted use of private vehicles) for those not yet parted from their cars will seem easier to bear where commuting is reduced through working from home and citizens are more evenly spread across the city at all times of the day, easing pressures of use. These are simple but profound changes. At Soundings, we see community engagement as a process that has social value in its own right. With 15 years of experience working for major clients across London and the UK on some of the most challenging projects in the built environment and working with communities to shape better places for all, Soundings have established the benchmark for public and stakeholder consultation. We support and encourage inspired and enjoyable interactions with people from all walks of life, leading to valuable contributions, insights and outcomes. One of these outcomes is the formation of empowered communities. In our experience, and from what we have witnessed from
the many local organisations and community groups we have worked with over the years, is that most people have a desire to come together and exchange thoughts and ideas about how our society, and the places we build together, can be better. When engaging in the process of shaping new developments, people especially want to know about what they can access and enjoy, and public parks, streets, and paths are high on the list. But we need to engage more to better define the experiences and needs that are emerging. Inclusive engagement and inclusive design are indivisible. More so than before, the coronavirus pandemic has put greater onus on community engagement and made us realise we have a responsibility to ensure consultation remains inclusive and harnesses the opportunity to champion social value in our communities. To properly understand and achieve inclusion, we need to recognise what excludes people from participating and enjoying the public realm, both now and in the past, ensuring that as we move forward, these barriers are removed. This includes physical barriers linked with age or disability, and the mental and cultural barriers restricting people from viewing space as theirs along cultural and socioeconomic divides. Here perceptions are as relevant as realities, requiring a subtle understanding of context and use, making co-design the only viable 27
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3. New forms of public life in lockdown. Muswell Hill residents reclaim the road as a play space without the fear of cars. © Christina Norton
form of problem solving in our view. Inclusion in the process by those very individuals who are normally outside the reach of typical forms of engagement, and who stand to benefit the most, can influence the space and help to build real and shared ownership of place. Nothing should be allowed to manifest itself that allows particular groups to feel uncomfortable – for instance, signals of who is meant to be there or not and how they are meant to behave, monuments and statues of a bygone era, overactive wardens, exclusive activities or expensive catering facilities. One of the key challenges that many of our clients and partners are confronted with is ensuring that any consultation with stakeholders and communities is well-placed and well-timed, that it remains valuable and meaningful, while being sensitive to quickly evolving situations. In these unprecedented times, we have taken precautions to ensure that any planned or future engagement activities adopt a responsible, sensitive and considered approach. Though there has been an inexorable drive toward digital means of communication, often with the explanation that it ‘is more democratic’, we find that just as for rights to physical space, the ease with 28
which digital space can be accessed is unequal. For this reason we ensure physical alternatives are always in place. Exhibitions can be staged externally in parks and open spaces as well as online such as for our Brent Cross South and Soham projects. Workshops can be held in physical venues observing social distancing with links to on-line clusters supported such as for Northfields, Brent and the same is true for project meetings. Increasingly various forms of video conferencing are being used to support meetings, and we have offered and facilitated some basic training to allow this to take place. On some projects we have been involved in ensuring digital equipment is available to all, in partnership with schools and universities. Despite the enormous social challenges that we have all faced, COVID-19 has shown us the power of the human spirit to manage adversity, adapt and find alternative ways of doing things. We have been inspired by the ways the communities we have the privilege of working with have continued to maintain supportive and communicative networks, against the odds. We have been moved by the determination people have shown to ensure that everyone within their communities continues to be given a
voice. We must recognise and support these grass roots activities. They are the real basis on which democratic actions can be built. Steve McAdam is a founding director at Soundings and an architect and ex-academic. He has extensive experience in urban regeneration, co-design, masterplanning and public consultation. His path to co-design was through teaching and academic research at the Architectural Association and London Metropolitan University where he founded the Cities Institute and helped to launch a post-graduate MA course on multidisciplinary urban design. Gabrielle Appiah is Project Coordinator at Soundings, with a background in town planning. Her personal journey into the field of co-design started when she joined the LLDC Youth Panel and Board for the London Olympic legacy masterplans. This is where she and Soundings first met, over eight years ago, during which time she has gained professional experience in coordinating various built environment professionals toward the common goal of enabling diverse communities to participate in shaping places in major developments across the city.
An Armistice of Tranquillity at Royal Arsenal Riverside, Woolwich. Royal Arsenal Riverside is one of South East Londonâ€™s most exciting riverside addresses, sitting at the heart of Woolwich, which is rapidly emerging as one of Londonâ€™s bright spots; occupying prime location along the River Thames and offering a buzzing retail hub.
Materials used: Prima Porphyry (Grey and Violet mix) paving and stepping-stone inclusions for the water feature. Magma and Royal White granite paving. Client: Berkeley Homes Landscape Architects: Gillespies Landscape Contractor: Elite Landscapes Water Feature Contractor: Fountains Direct Water Feature Designer: Fountains Workshop Engineers: RSK Paving Materials Supplier: Hardscape
For further information on our hard-landscaping products please visit: www.hardscape.co.uk or telephone: 01204 565 500.
F E AT U R E By Richard Tisdall
Creating healthy green spaces 1
Richard Tisdall makes the case to view parks from a perspective of health and wellbeing, and introduces the Health Parks Toolkit as a vehicle to deliver practical health-based interventions.
he WHO have recognised the importance of green spaces for health, confirming that “Having access to green spaces can reduce health inequalities, improve wellbeing, and aid in treatment of mental illness...physical activity in a natural environment can also help remedy mild depression and reduce physiological stress indicators.”1 Research has demonstrated several health benefits associated with the presence and use of parks2. These include: 30
– Improved mental health, – Better relaxation and restoration – Boosted functioning of the immune system – Enhanced physical activity and improved fitness – Increased social capital and cohesion – Improved mental health and cognitive function – Reduced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality – Improved pregnancy outcomes – Reduced mortality and increased life span
The 25 Year Environment Plan3 acknowledges the importance of the natural environment for health and wellbeing. The steer of the NHS Long Term Plan4 and Long Term Plan Implementation Framework5 emphasise the need for Primary Prevention to reduce obesity, avoidable health conditions and mental ill health. A halt in the annual increase in life expectancy over the last decade in the most deprived communities6, and increasing prevalence of avoidable medical conditions and mental
1, 2. Using the Health Parks Toolkit. © Richard Tisdall
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WHO, Health and Sustainable Development: Urban Green Space, 2020 1
Braubach M, et al., Effects of Urban Green Space on Environment Health, Equity and Resilience, in Naturebased Solutions to Climate Change Adaption in Urban Areas, Kabisch N, et al., editors, 2017 2
HM Government, A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment, DEFRA, 2018 3
NHS, The NHS Long Term Plan, 2019 4
NHS, NHS Long Term Plan Implementation Framework’ 2019 5
Marmot M, A.J., Boyce T, Goldblatt P, Morrison J, Health equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 years on: Institute of Health Equity, 2020 6
Fields in Trust, Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces Measuring their economic and wellbeing value to individuals, 2018 7
The Landscape Institute, Public Health and Landscapes Creating Healthy Places, 2014 8
The King’s Fund, What is Social Prescribing? 2017’ 9
Tisdall RS, Parks and Green Spaces Health Report: Ruskin Park London Borough of Lambeth, 2019, Tisdall Associates Ltd. 10
Tisdall RS, Haringey Green Space Health Strategy Pilot, 2020, Tisdall Associates Ltd. 11
Tisdall RS, Green Space Health Strategy Parks4Health Future Parks Accelerator Project, 2020, London Boroughs of Islington & Camden 12
illness, demonstrate the importance of revising our perspective on green spaces and their contribution to health and wellbeing. It is increasingly important that green spaces are appreciated not simply for their amenity value, but specifically for their contribution to health and social cohesion, a “wellbeing” value set at £34.2 billion per year7. A number of useful guidelines have been written, not least by the Landscape Institute8, but how is health to be delivered in practice? As landscape professionals I believe we have a unique skill set to be able to contribute to this process. Firstly by designing projects for health, and secondly by improving existing green spaces for health. Recognising the need for a health-based green space assessment model and drawing on qualifications and experience in Environmental Science, Landscape Design and Public Health, Tisdall Associates, a registered practice of the Landscape Institute, has developed the Health Parks Toolkit. Set within the principles of Public Health, the Toolkit is being utilised to provide objective, evidencebased Green Space Health Audits by individuals, charities and councils. It has been developed in liaison with Parks for London and beta tested by Friends Groups and several local authorities. The Toolkit emanates from a detailed review of scientific evidence. From this, it has been possible to identify key health criteria which have a bearing upon health and wellbeing. These include health promotion, accessibility, mental wellbeing, physical activity and environment and biodiversity. The Toolkit also identifies opportunities for social prescribing. The interpretation of research has identified a series of elements, characteristics and facilities linked to health-promoting green spaces. These form the basis for an online survey covering various aspects of green space. In addition to providing action points and wider recommendations, the Audits provide detailed charts of health status and lists of interventions, identifying elements in the following categories: “Present and Satisfactory”, “In need of Improvement” and “New opportunities”. The first relate to
elements and facilities which can be promoted through health promotion initiatives and utilised within social prescribing9. The “Improvements” are actions which can be undertaken to raise the health status of a park within an ongoing management programme. “New Opportunities” are new healthbased interventions which introduce positive enhancements to the park. In considering outcomes, the Full Audits stand alone as useful guides for the enhancement of parks for health. On analysis, combined surveys provide a comprehensive data base which can be identify strengths and weaknesses in health status across a borough. The analysis of data emanating from the Audits allows the creation of Open Space Health Audits. These identify opportunities to integrate parks within the context of Public Health and Primary Prevention. In so doing they provide a basis to increase footfall, and to encourage physical activity, mental wellbeing and social interaction. Green Space Health Strategies have been prepared for the London Boroughs of Lambeth10, Haringey11, Islington and Camden12. The Islington and Camden Green Space Health Strategies have formed an important component of one of the Parks Accelerator Fund, financed by The National Trust and National Lottery Heritage Fund, in conjunction with the DCLG (now the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government). The availability
of detailed information from each of the health criteria will allow the interrogation of park data at local, district and national levels, allowing councils to plan ongoing interventions and initiatives for each of their parks and across their boroughs. The Health Parks Initiative redefines the importance and value of parks and green spaces. It offers a paradigm shift, moving the perception of parks from one of amenity, to a resource for public health. In so doing, it places parks within the context of Primary Prevention creating an opportunity for cooperation between local authorities, public health bodies, the NHS and local community groups. It also provides a basis for local funding bids and new joint funding initiatives, and offers an objective and replicable basis to compare parks across, communities, wards, boroughs and countries. As a way of supporting the work of the NHS, the Full Audit is currently available at no charge to park charities and local authorities. For details go to the Tisdall Associates website, https:// www.tisdallassociates.co.uk/abouthealth-parks and click on the “Free Appraisal (Full Audit) button to register. OR email us at info@ tisdallassociates.co.uk. Richard Tisdall is Director of Tisdall Associates Ltd
F E AT U R E By Ian Fisher
Heron Street – a model for green capsule street space A collaboration between Manchester School of Architecture and Land Use Consultants has led to innovative thinking in the creation of a small-scale green space Design Process Could a new paradigm of landscape design and procurement emerge as a result of the social and environmental fallout from COVID-19? This small project evidences a collaborative approach in which the community, contractors, suppliers, clients, consultants, academics, students and local community ward managers are working together to achieve project implementation. 32
The project originated from a brief set by tutors in the Master of Landscape Architecture, one of several Masters courses offered by Manchester School of Architecture, Landscape Technology unit. This challenged students to apply their skills and knowledge to create aspirational designs that transformed Heron Street, Hulme, into a shared space for play and socialising. The students envisioned that this would be achieved through the introduction of rain gardens, green walls, traffic
calming measures, interactive social and play spaces, with sustainable materials and an ecologically adaptive vegetation structure. In conjunction with support from Manchester City Council, these aspirational designs were implemented on the street as a temporary ‘Living Exhibition’ in September 2019, using materials and time donated by numerous landscape product suppliers and professionals, including Kier, JA Jones Nursery, GreenBlue Urban, Enviromesh,
1. Indicative view of the public element of the green capsule space. Seating is flexible and planting is practical and ecologically robust. © Land Use Consultants; Manchester Office
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2. Indicative site plan, green capsule space. © Land Use Consultants; Manchester Office
Furnitubes, Urbanscape Green Roof and Barnes Walker Landscape Architects. As a result of this successful exhibition, tutors sought support from landscape practices in the North West to help turn some of the students’ ideas into reality. Several practices offered their help, but Land Use Consultants (LUC) were selected as they were able to offer a more complete service on a pro bono basis. In conjunction with community representatives, they developed a scheme that prioritised simplicity, adaptability and buildability; retrofitting a small capsule of green space into the barren street environment. The design process was clearly focused on opportunity rather than adhering to a strict design philosophy and this allowed for the inclusion of any materials as they became available and latterly in configuring the design to respond to COVID-19. A key condition was to ensure that this project could be implemented without the need for protracted multiple funding applications. Instead,
the objective was to leverage commercial sponsorship by focusing on the long term benefits of product placement in tandem with developing a cooperative forum with developers active in the area, who wished to contribute responsibly and directly to the community in which they were operating. This model was complemented by the opportunistic utilisation of student labour, whose engagement through “a handson process” would benefit their acquisition of skills and knowledge. The Community formed the final piece of the jigsaw in respect of their role as client, and in this case tutors acted as their advisory consultants and liaised with LUC, suppliers and ward managers to inform and support their decision-making process.
Design Language A simple framework of gabion baskets (recycled) and seating areas (upcycled) define space and movement through the site. Gabion are filled with reclaimed concrete slabs
(recycled) taken from the existing site to minimise wastage. Street furniture is simple and robust, whilst shipping pallets have been transformed into planted walls, utilising Sedum green roof modules (upcycled). Locally composted green waste will be used to improve the soil that was previously covered by the concrete paving (recycled). Removing this paving also opens up the surface to water and air penetration, reducing run off to the storm water drainage system. Approximately 65% of the space is utilised for planting, with the pallet walls providing additional vegetative zones. As many plants as possible will be sourced from local nurseries and the selection of plants will respond to availability. The objective is to provide a planting scheme that is easily maintained by local residents and has a high ecological value, with the understanding, depending on availability, that a “planting design” with the expertise available can be created from whatever arrives on site.
... the objective was to leverage commercial sponsorship by focusing on the long term benefits of product placement in tandem with developing a cooperative forum with developers active in the area...
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3. Indicative view from residents car park. New planting will contain a range of culinary herbs. © Land Use Consultants; Manchester Office
4. Indicative aerial view. © Land Use Consultants; Manchester Office
Conclusion The evolution of this project, in parallel with the developing COVID-19 pandemic, has highlighted the need for a flexible, adaptive and cooperative approach to creating green space at an ultra-local level. This approach shows how small scale, achievable green infrastructure projects could be implemented across the city in an opportunistic format. The key requirement is the formation of multi-agency forums through which all stakeholders’ values are recognised, whether they are commercial, social, academic or environmental. Entering 34
into a spirit of cooperation provides a platform for negotiation and an opportunity for solutions that can transcend short term gain in favour of Ionger term investment, with consequently higher returns. Applying this approach is a relatively simple win for improving the local environment. At a neighbourhood scale, these capsules of green infrastructure may become a key feature in creating identity, acting as a focus for further environmental improvements and maintaining the viability of inner urban areas, as work patterns undergo dramatic changes.
Ian Fisher has taught landscape architecture for over 25 years. His primary interest is in enlarging the student learning experience. At present he is investigating how remote learning methods, necessitated by COVID-19, can act as a new vehicle for cross collaborative teaching between practice, community and academia.
F E AT U R E By Simon Ward
Great Ancoats Street – proposals for a new park
Simon Ward, who heads Atkins’ national landscape team along with colleagues Justyna Grabowska and Katy Cardwell, has designed a park which could offer many benefits to the local community and the wider city. 1. Visual looking into new park. © atkinsglobal.com
ities like Manchester are busy reimaging their spaces and thinking hard about how they could be reshaped after COVID-19, when there might be fewer cars, fewer car parks, and more need for quality outdoor green space. Within the city centre area of Manchester, there are around 50 car park spaces or brownfield sites of varying sizes
that are currently used for parking or remain vacant. These are often located in the heart of the City’s burgeoning quarters, and would make ideal sites for city parks and informal play or recreational areas. As a society we must redress the balance between man and nature. One of the few silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has provided the impetus to radically
rethink how our cities work, and how they might best serve a changing society which is crying out for more natural city spaces. The crisis has revealed a serious lack of large scale, quality, green space in Manchester, which is not alone in the UK in this, but with the rapid expansion of the city’s residential offer, that needs to change and quickly. A city of Manchester’s international standing and ambition 35
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Great Ancoats Park
Adventure Play Area
Cotton Field Steps & Ramp
Pool - Cascade
Manchester Heroes Garden
10 Islington Marina 7
11 Cotton Field Park
12 12 Great Ancoats Street
deserves a ring of parks around its core city spaces and far more quality green space in its centre, with its lively new quarters. The speculative design for this site was inspired by local demand, where residents wanted to transform a 10-acre (4 hectares) space – recently cleared for a mixed-use development – into one with an emphasis on green space provision for the local community. Our design endeavoured to showcase what a site like this, which is typical of many of our cities fringe and brownfield spaces, is capable of delivering. An urban park here could help to transform the area, linking into the adjacent and popular Cotton Field Park and Islington Marina, bringing nature into the heart of the city. It could create an oasis of wellbeing, with modern, multifarious facilities aimed at all sectors of the local community; helping them to relax, play, exercise and enjoy peaceful spaces and gardens, from up-close or via the numerous longer range window and 36
balcony views which surround the site. The design contains a feast of amenity space, with expansive lawns laced with bee and rain gardens, a water cascade and pool, adventure and mixed-age play areas, allotments, growing places and community events spaces. It also includes a range of facilities promoting healthy pursuits, with wide boulevards for COVID-safe walking and cycling; elements all driven by the local communities’ aspirations. A park here would be overlooked by thousands of local residents including the in-construction multistorey Oxygen Tower, which sits close to the corner of this site, creating wide green vistas and contact with “wilderness”, including grasslands, large spreading trees and mixed plant life, which is everything the nearby tightly grained Georgian mills and streets are not. In fact, the layout was inspired by the history and origins of development in the area. An early 19th century map reveals a site which lies on a natural divide between the organised Georgian
industrial landscape of mills laid out on a rectilinear grid to the north and open fields to the south, perfectly symbolising the transition between the classical and romantic periods which overlapped at this time. A clash of geometry, order, proportion and precision, versus semi-tamed nature, is the rationale which underpins this design, but with a modern aesthetic. Part of the site could also be given over to residential development and a park cafe to help fund its creation and generate long term income for
2. Site masterplan. © atkinsglobal
3. View across existing site. © atkinsglobal
4. Overhead perspective of speculative Park design. © atkinsglobal
5. Large brownfield site off Ancoats street in Manchester. © google earth
6. City centre sites. © atkinsglobal and googleearth
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the park’s upkeep, but cities like Manchester have to be more ambitious and generous in their green space provision. There is a wealth of evidence now emerging, through natural capital studies, to suggest these kinds of places pay themselves back many times over in the benefits they bring for people’s health and well-being, and that for “every £1 invested in public parks around £27 is returned in value.”1 Green spaces are simply the natural antidote to daily life. Fields in Trust calculated that, in the UK, they provide £34bn of value in terms of mental and physical wellbeing, and that Parks in particular save the NHS £111m alone in preventing GP appointments, the equivalent cost of 3,500 nurses. With many doctors now actively prescribing a course of walks or allotment time over a course of pills, and with a third of the UK’s children aged between 2 and 15 overweight (with 75% of them spending less time outdoors than our prison population), there has surely never been a better time to create more green space.
Comparisons with rates to erect new buildings are also staggering, with square metre costs to create a public park a fraction of their architectural equivalents. They also benefit a far greater section of society, as our most democratic of urban spaces, proving they are worth every penny we can spend on them. The multiple benefits a carefully designed public park can bring, if it reflects the local community’s needs, is indisputable, but they can also bring other benefits: reducing urban heat island effects; releasing oxygen and absorbing carbon; contributing to more sustainable drainage systems; improving biodiversity and property values; and cleaning the air of harmful particles. In short, these spaces work very hard for their communities, and their true value is inestimable. Simon Ward is Professional Head of Discipline for landscape architecture at Atkins Natural capital accounts for Green space in London 2017 – Greater London Authority, National Trust Heritage lottery fund. 1
F E AT U R E By Michael Cowdy and Fraser Halliday
Post-COVID-19: a bio urban future McGregor Coxall has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Shenzhen, London and Bristol. Two of its practitioners offer an international perspective on tackling the pandemic.
ntil only recently, the sudden and radical transformation of our daily routines seemed unfathomable. Many of the protective measures introduced in lockdowns globally have challenged the very essence of urban lifestyles, planning, governance, conservation and management. And while we can only speculate upon the longlasting repercussions sweeping our social, economic and political spheres, we can anticipate that like 38
many pandemics before, COVID-19 presents an opportunity to accelerate progressive changes to citiesâ€™ open space models, as well as stimulate investment into the conservation of our wild areas. The former is required to address the weakness in our physical and social infrastructure exposed during lock down, whereas the latter is essential to prevent further habitat destruction and the multibillion-dollar international wildlife trade, which, according to the WWF, is the cause of emerging
zoonotic infectious diseases. And more worryingly, since February this year, environmental agencies have reported an uptake in deforestation as well as increases in poaching, animal trafficking and illegal mining worldwide, the consequences of opportunists expanding their activities and taking advantage of diminished forest monitoring and government presence. Therefore, it is critical to recognise that conservation and city planning are absolutely interlinked. The challenge we face is ensuring governments and
1. Bio Urbanism Systems Diagram. ÂŠ McGregor Coxall
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2. Low Carbon Ballast Point Park. © McGregor Coxall
3. Lingang Bird Airport and Eco Park. © McGregor Coxall
4. Sustainable framework for a new city district in the Middle East. © McGregor Coxall
local authorities embrace a fast paced, bold planning approach that rethinks the open space model, one which applies a more holistic and systematic blue and green infrastructure framework. Cities need to transform from a static planning system to a more adaptable model which is performance and target based. Recognising that cities need disruptive, smart solutions to tackle shared global challenges, McGregor Coxall established the Biocity Research Studio in 2006. Combining science with technology and design, it conducts research via global partnerships with universities, industry, private investors, NGO’s and government. A key initiative arising from the research is the Bio Urbanism platform. Developed as a largescale open source systems-based planning framework, it seeks to foster regenerative relationships between cities and the biological systems upon which they depend. Utilising advanced GIS technology and data modelling, the platform reviews ten systems – five urban and five bio – to measure the environmental performance of cities against targets and global best practice indicators. The bio indicators rate factors such as carbon, biomass and ecological health, and the urban
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indicators rate factors such as infrastructure, thermal comfort, urban form, density and energy flows. To achieve urban prosperity, Bio Urbanism maintains that any major planning decision should create favorable outcomes across all ten systems. In the Middle East, we are currently planning a city which spans multiple ecological zones and geographic conditions, encompassing environmentally significant habitats and cultural heritage sites within a largely undeveloped but heavily debilitated landscape. The ambitious blueprint recognises that progressive cities must become early adopters of strategies that promote low carbon living through fossil fuel divestment, thus enhancing economic competitiveness and climate resilience in the digital age. The regional plans create frameworks where people, planning, policy, and technology work together to foster innovation and address critical questions of environmental stewardship, social equity, and sustainable economic growth. Crucial to this is shifting from a linear economy where we ‘Take-make-waste’ and move to a circular economy, where waste either falls into the biological process or remains in circulation as part of the technical process. Adopting this bold framework has resulted in significant development of a Bio Urbanism circular economy framework. The latest thinking is that the ten systems work together to produce minimum drawdown on natural capital. This will prevent damage to habitats, vegetation, hydrology and soils, and assist in stabilising regional ecology, while living systems integrated into urban design will enhance climate and infrastructure resilience. During the pandemic, the value of nature has been heightened as people have re-established a relationship with local parks, rivers and wildlife. Our natural systems are crucial to increasing the urban environment’s resilience to climate change, whilst also performing well documented biophilic benefits. In recent years, our work in China has been focused on China’s Sponge Cities program, where flood mitigation through natural-based solutions is viewed as critical. 40
This is also demonstrated on Lingang Bird Airport and Eco Park, where an 80-hectare industrial wasteland was recreated into a wetland habitat located along a key bird migration route known as the East Asian Australasian Flyway (EAAF). The ecological design consisted of the creation of a series of habitats designed to support the specific needs of more than fifty species of birds in three different water habitats. The habitat strategy was supported by a comprehensive water management
strategy, using treated wastewater as a source for the wetlands. This environmentally focused project also played a crucial social role for the living and visiting community by providing an attractive and engaging natural space. Access to adequate multifunctional open space has become vital during the lockdown and placed a lens on the importance the public realm plays in supporting physical health and mental wellbeing. The challenge is ensuring a post-COVID world learns from its past mistakes
5. Creating an Interconnected Blue Green Network with Transport for London. © McGregor Coxall
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6. Maitland High Street and River Link Building. © McGregor Coxall
7. Cheapside and Bank Junction Smart Carpet. © McGregor Coxall
During the pandemic, the value of nature has been heightened as people have re-established a relationship with local parks, rivers and wildlife.
and invests in quality open space that is accessible and connected. Our ongoing work with Transport for London aims to address inequity across the city by establishing key performance metrics to 2,500 hectares of TfL’s development sites. It looks at ensuring all sites are held accountable for their social, environmental and economic performance through a Sustainable Development Framework, which adopts ‘Triple Bottom Line’ thinking. In particular, we’ve been providing Green and Blue Infrastructure strategies and Healthy Street Checks to identify targeted initiatives that promote active transport choices, active lifestyle, biodiversity net gain and increased urban greening. High streets around the UK are facing unprecedented challenges due to changing economics, the environmental impact of climate change and the social inadequacies of our public realm, which have been exposed by COVID-19. However, what the pandemic has done is reveal our high streets as community centres and reconnected people to the importance of the shopkeeper. A recent high street renewal project we’ve completed is in Maitland, Australia, where a declining centre with a 50% vacancy rate is now a thriving place with a purpose. The project looked to reposition Maitland as a leisure-based retail centre supported by an experiential night-time economy of local produce & Hunter Valley wine. The design was focused on a new ‘shared zone’ and River Link building that established a connection between the high street and Hunter River. Planned with embedded flexibility for future change, the high street embraces smart technologies enabled through free Wi-Fi and programmable LED lighting. This allows the entire street mood to be instantly changed to support the new calendar of events and festivals. With demands on our public realm changing, technology offers a solution to support the creation of flexible and adaptable spaces. Embedding technology into our public realm enables us to monitor user demands to intelligently inform decision making and create vibrant, engaging spaces. In the City of London, our
smart street concepts employ digital surface treatments and modular furniture systems that allow spaces to adaptively respond to users’ demands. This multifunctional technological street creates engaging public spaces that facilitate social interaction, healthy living, community connection and cultural expression to curate public life. The value of quality public realm and space needs to be prioritised so that adequate budgets are identified. Both the public and private sector need to adequately invest in the spaces they create and manage, as they are proven to enhance a place’s social, environmental and economic performance. A collaborative approach between local authorities, stakeholders and communities will ensure greater understanding of the importance of Blue Green Infrastructure, ownership of the strategy, and commitment to delivery of its intended outcomes. Measuring, monitoring and reporting of policy outcomes and
delivered priority actions is essential. All best practice examples of Blue and Green Infrastructure have embedded a process of reviewing its successes and failures. Don’t fear failure – embrace it, learn from it, and implement better solutions. The path to prevention of future pandemics lies in a holistic approach to city planning, conservation and managing resources across the globe. Decision makers globally need to be aware of these dynamics moving forward, as they begin to think about investing and managing resources in the future to kickstart the economy again.
Michael Cowdy is a Director and Studio Leader for McGregor Coxall based in the Bristol and London studio Fraser Halliday is a Senior Landscape Architect working for McGregor Coxall in the Sydney studio 41
Extraordinary for Landscape Architects Project: Chicago Riverwalk East - Site Design Group (with Muller + Muller Architects) Product: Streetlife Solid Surf Isles 2D Photo credit: Scott Shigley
Green Circular Bench
Solid Industry Picnic Set
Rough&Ready Tree Isles Straight Italic
Rough&Ready Curved Bench FSC hardwood
Drifter Bench recycled hardwood
Nature of the city A new book by Tom Armour and Andrew Tempany asks how we can improve delivery Nature helps to create a better, stronger and more resilient urban realm, adaptable to future pressures, extremes and population growth. of green infrastructure At a time of climate emergency and mental health toincreased adapt cities by better awareness, engaging people in the quest for healthier and resilient urban environments is vital. interweaving the human and This is a practical guide to delivering green infrastructure from natural worlds. the ground up and bringing nature into the built environment.
Exploring the process of delivery through an array of design approaches and case studies, it demystifies the concept owandis the time for landscape provides the tools for practical implementation, highlighting the professionals to step up challenges and opportunities on both small and large projects.
and create a better balance between people, place and nature Features projects from London, Milan, Singapore, Chicago, Seoul, New York, Mexico City and more. in our cities, where the effects of the climate crisis, stressed infrastructure, pollution, physical and mental health issues and dwindling biodiversity are most keenly felt. Much has been written and researched in the last decade about architecture.com/RIBABooks the benefits of green infrastructure (GI). This movement, of course, started many years ago, well before the concept had its current name. From an ecological approach to design pioneered by Ian McHarg in his seminal Design with Nature, to the positive approaches to green urban planning put forward by Nan Fairbrother in New Lives, New Landscapes. There is a growing array of green infrastructure research, policies and projects that are being delivered, and work by the EU that acknowledges the economic, social and environmental
ANDREW TEMPANY AND TOM ARMOUR
NATURE GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE FROM THE GROUND UP
OF THE CITY
TEMPANY AND ARMOUR
s g f UK ons ted
By Tom Armour and Andrew Tempany
NATURE OF THE CITY
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Cover credit: @Shutterstock, Sun God
benefits of ‘nature-based’ solutions. However, many landscape professionals would admit that we haven’t been as successful as we would have liked, in terms of enacting green infrastructure more universally and bringing it more firmly into the mainstream of planning, design and development. Most indicators show the impact of climate emergency on
We should be very, very worried about it…the land is being scorched, deserts are spreading, and the seas are warming – all those factors cause great changes to our fortunes. Sir David Attenborough – BBC (June 2017)
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1 In order to develop a compelling business case for green infrastructure, its multifunctional qualities must come to the fore. To do this we can look at green infrastructure in the context of the three pillars of sustainable development – environmental, economic and social – that should run through all well-considered spatial planning and investment decisions. © Unsplash
2. Fitzroy Square London – many of the London (and other city) squares and green spaces, which have great value as urban green lungs and tranquil oases from which to escape from the city, have sometimes been more than two centuries in the making. This makes it all the more important to plan now, whether for new green infrastructure or succession planning for historic urban GI.
the increase, habitats and species continuing to decline at alarming rates, health problems continuing to get worse (especially in our cities and urban areas), and unacceptable and intolerable conditions for many in urban environments, with the economic costs of all of this rapidly rising. However, we landscape professionals know that green infrastructure is a critical infrastructure for humans and for biodiversity. It involves natural systems that provide essential functions, and that need to be planned and designed in equal partnership with other city infrastructure. But to bring it more squarely into the mainstream as a fundamental solution still requires a paradigm shift, so that its planning becomes as second nature as for other forms of city infrastructure. We know too that green infrastructure is consistently undervalued in conventional economic analyses and decision making, as well as in the planning and design of many urban strategies and projects. Changing the way we think about 44
green infrastructure is critical to ensuring its greater delivery. Other terms exist of course – ‘nature-based solutions’, ‘nature’, ‘ecosystem services’ and ‘natural capital’ to name a few. However, the term ‘green infrastructure’ is perhaps the best one we have as a way of describing what we are trying to do to get decision makers, politicians and the
public to increase an appreciation of its fundamental functional role to help deliver economic, social and environmental benefits. Engaging people in the quest for healthier and more resilient urban environments is, of course, vital. The language used around the subject of the climate crisis should perhaps be less about temperature
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3. The All London Green Grid. The strategic planning of green infrastructure can deliver a vision to help focus funding and resources, and enables incremental implementation to make it deliverable. © GLA
targets and emission values, as many find it difficult to directly relate to these intangible concepts. Instead, we should promote messages about opportunities and spaces for individuals and families that encourage and enable healthier lifestyles; the possibilities of reducing pollution, noise and dust; creating better conditions in terms of shade, shelter and protection from the effects of the climate crisis; and creating better conditions for wildlife, nature and ecology to thrive to enrich our environments. Equally important to winning over decision makers and developers is the fact that green infrastructure need not be difficult or expensive, and can be delivered one step at a time when resources are available – the simplest or smallest scale interventions, such
as a pocket park or parklet or a piece of streetscape green infrastructure, can be equally valuable as large GI projects in building the pieces of a network. Another idea is to change people’s perception about the intangibles of what green infrastructure is by demonstrating that it is not just valuable from an aesthetic point of view, but that it is essential because of its functional qualities, providing essential services for quality of life and climate change resilience. In terms of shifting the debate, there are perhaps two main considerations: 1. Creating a convincing business case for green infrastructure 2. Presenting green infrastructure as an integral part of the city’s vital systems.
If well integrated into planning and design processes, green infrastructure can contribute many of the answers, helping to fill the gaps and cut across conventional siloed approaches, and positively tackling environmental and social problems governments and decision-makers constantly grapple with.
Neither technology nor cities can replace our need for the natural environment. We have to keep a balance. “Disconnection from nature causes chronic stress. Dr William Bird – Natural Thinking, Links Between The Natural Environment, Biodiversity And Mental Health (2016)
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4. Vauban car free district, Freiburg Germany. Different approaches to masterplanning can deliver great places. Here at Vauban, green infrastructure planned from the start now plays a key role in creating beautiful, safe, pollution free city environments that encourage healthy living and mobility.
There has never been a time when our expertise and creativity will be as highly valued. As the climate change movement becomes mainstream and sustainability is right at the top of the agenda, and as we all struggle to adapt our towns and cities to the COVID-19 crisis, we must grasp this opportunity and make a difference.
© allOver images/Alamy
5, 6. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Green infrastructure can play an integral part both in new development and retrofitting. The park integrates large scale nature restoration and effective temporary flood storage within its design layout.
Jane Findlay – President of the Landscape Institute – ‘Jane Findlay takes on LI presidency’ (Landscape, July 2020)
5 © Shutterstock 6 © Arup
A common worry about increasing green infrastructure resources concerns future maintenance, and how this is paid for and enacted. A way to look at this is to consider the essential services, functions and benefits that green infrastructure provides, and the long-term nature of these benefits. Through this, the cost of maintaining green infrastructure can then be considered as an investment over time, rather than as a burden. As a society too, it would be unthinkable not to maintain other essential infrastructure, such as drainage, traffic and energy systems, so why should green infrastructure be any different? It, too, is providing us with essential services. Delivery can be achieved in many different ways: 1. Creating healthy places in urban environments is about better connecting people to the natural environment. Space in denser urban environments means that land for healthy and functional ‘green space’ competes with development and ‘grey’ infrastructure. Helping key decision makers realise that we 46
must get this balance right is a key requirement if we are to create effective climate change resilience and improve conditions for people and biodiversity in cities. 2. We need to plan and design in our natural environment as a critical and functional infrastructure component at the start of projects – in the same way we plan and design our energy, transport, water and waste infrastructure – and see this through to construction. It needs the right designers too, and, given their diverse skills and training, landscape professionals are best placed to lead and deliver green infrastructure design. Effective planning and visioning
of green infrastructure is also a way forward. Creating a green infrastructure vision or roadmap for a city, district or locality generates a common aim behind which resources and funding can be focused. The plan can then be achieved economically through incremental investment over time, creating long term benefits. 3. All components of the built environment need to work harder to support increased green infrastructure – open spaces, existing infrastructure, streets, road space, vacant and waste land, and buildings all have an important role too in supporting green infrastructure in building
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7. Pilot schemes and temporary green infrastructure projects are an economic means to push wider change. Taking inspiration from the New York programme of road diets, this popup park (#Fitzpark) in London’s Windmill Street – created through partnership working by Arup, Fitzrovia BID, Vestre and LB Camden – makes a street for people with green infrastructure and health at its heart. © Arup/ Paul Carstairs)
8. Bosco Verticale, Milan by Stefano Boeri, Milan – buildings have an important role to play in weaving green infrastructure and healthier environments into cities and urban areas. © Thomas Ledl/Arup / Boeri Studio
9. Greener Grangetown Cardiff – moves from ‘business as usual’ are essential. This awardwinning scheme was the result of partnership working and embracing new design approaches. 108 individual rain gardens form a sustainable retrofit water project in Grangetown, close to Cardiff city centre. This scheme removed 4.4 hectares of impermeable ground, whilst delivering an enhanced public realm and promotion of safe, sustainable travel. Community engagement was key to the success of the scheme promoted by Cardiff Council, Dẅr Cymru Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales. © Arup/ Math Roberts Photography
envelopes and surfaces. Many small interventions too can add up to a greater whole across city environments. 4. We need to make more imaginative use of the city space we have, using redundant space and obsolete areas to retrofit the natural environment back into cities, as well as including it fundamentally in new development. Scope for temporary spaces can be implemented economically and can later achieve full value by becoming permanent once value is realised. This can occur through local pressure and support from social media. Even in small spaces, improvements to make healthier and better places for people can have a huge transformative effect. 5. Tackling these contemporary challenges requires more collaborative thinking and integrated working, a longer-term view, and new ways of working in partnership, from strategy through to implementation. Bringing people into daily contact with nature relates directly to the everyday lives of urban individuals and their friends and families, and is about what makes life worth living but doesn’t cost a fortune. Healthy environments enable people to enjoy and contribute to the quality of their surroundings, enables them to do things that refresh their spirits, and engenders physical and mental wellbeing. Messages, in other words, that appeal to us as citizens of villages, towns, cities and the planet that we all know we need to urgently protect. Tom Armour is a director and leader of the landscape business at Arup, and is a Fellow of the Landscape Institute. Ideas for this article are taken from ‘Nature of the City’ – co-written with Andrew Tempany (published by RIBA Publishing, 2020). This is a practical guide to delivering green infrastructure from the ground up, highlighting the challenges and opportunities on both small and largescale projects. After 30 years at Arup, Tom is taking early retirement this autumn with many future plans.
F E AT U R E By Marie Burns
New life in public squares in the age of COVID-19 New Life in Public Squares was published early this year. The author, Marie Burns, considers the impact of COVID-19 on the design and management of these essential spaces.
ew Life in Public Squares was written during a time when cities were viewed through a very different prism. They were crowded and busy, with commuters and tourists struggling to safely occupy footways and cyclists trying to navigate road space without accident. Cities were
experiencing what seemed to be a never-ending period of growth, driven by their significance as centres for investment, commerce, employment, and tourism. As the economic influence of the city has expanded, the demand for housing has increased, driving up prices and rents, and resulting in the
densification of new residential developments and increasing commuter distances. During this same period, concerns about and demands to address climate change were growing. In urban areas, the effect of climate change focused on the detrimental impact of traffic causing air and noise pollution
1. The contrasting colour of the paving defines the gardens within the terraces while the wide entrances allows an ease of movement between the spaces. All images ÂŠ Marie Burns
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2. Newly created Jardins de Tete Montoliu, L’Eixample District of the Cerda Grid. 3. Within Aker Brygge – Tjuvholmen a variety of routes give choice to the popular destinations of the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, the Tjuvholmen Skulpturpark and the beach. Images © Marie Burns
to increase. As part of this debate, initiatives were being explored to make cities more liveable and healthier, by focusing on establishing a pedestrian orientated environment, through the re-allocation of road space that restricts private vehicle movement and limits on street parking. More pedestrianised streets and public squares could be created supporting the promotion of walking, cycling and the use of public transport. Public squares have long been important places of congregation within city centres and local neighbourhoods. Over the last four decades or so, their role has developed as being central to the regeneration of cities, enabling new urban identities to be formed, repositioning cities as places that entice large numbers of tourists and their spending power, which in turn underpins an urban economy. Squares are the focus of city events that can attract and accommodate vast crowds. This transformation of cities into appealing and pleasant places to live and work, by mitigating the impact of the private motor vehicle, has encouraged the creation of new and the revitalisation of existing squares. This was the backdrop to New Life in Public Squares, which explores the design approaches taken by a selection of case studies based on five categories: – How redesigned historic squares been able to recapture their ‘permanence of place’ by applying a contemporary design approach – The way that creation of new squares within an urban fabric requires innovative approaches to changes in traffic or land use – How the design of squares within new city quarters creates a sense of place, reflecting the quality of life being created in these new communities – The use of opportunities to reconnect once inaccessible, private areas of land to their urban hinterland through the introduction of new squares that capture both the city and waterside qualities – How making cities liveable and more pedestrian / cycle orientated can be achieved by restructuring the urban
form, through new or revitalised squares which are part of a city-wide public realm vision That ‘normal’ city experience – with its urban buzz, the constant rush of vast numbers of people, crowded public transport, bars, restaurants and theatres – now seem a distant memory. The global impact of COVID-19 has changed our lives and given us time to reflect on what matters to us. The immediate effects of lockdown introduced to control the virus’ spread was that streets and public spaces
became empty, skies became more blue, the air was cleaner, people had to manage to work from home and educate their children, and online shopping boomed. Life in some respects was simplified, stripped back to its essentials. The pandemic has shown the fragility of health and social care systems, including for people with mental health issues, and the disparity between communities who live with limited or no access to outdoor space in dense neighbourhoods or in high rise flats, compared to those who live in homes with private gardens.
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How will the design of public spaces of the future be informed by the experience of COVID-19? Cities have responded to previous pandemics to try to limit their future reoccurrences. During medieval times, densely overcrowded settlements that were tightly built within city walls enabled the vicious spread of the Black Death. In attempts to control the disease, streets were widened.
The cholera outbreaks of the 19th century saw the demolition of medieval areas to create wide, straight streets and new drainage infrastructure, introduced to bring better sanitation, clean water, air and light into the city. These included the boulevards and squares in Paris and the new embankment in London. Innovative approaches to mass housing, like the Cerdà Grid in Barcelona, were built to reduce
living densities, while city parks, for example Victoria Park in East London and Central Park in New York, were introduced to create areas of clean air that would circulate into the city. The effect of COVID-19 has given the opportunity to re-evaluate how we lived pre-virus, and how we want to live in the future. There is a heightened appreciation of the sense of local, of streets and public spaces, of walking and cycling, of discovering new connections and places to visit. Public spaces continue to provide cities with the same benefits as before the pandemic, but are being appreciated more and not being taken for granted. They are vital to our wellbeing, offering contact with nature, opportunities to see and interact with people (albeit socially distanced), and space to exercise or to relax in. Home working is, for the moment, the new norm, which has greatly reduced the use of public transport. Online retail has taken away some of the need for shopping, and visiting bars and restaurants remains tentative. How cities are used and accessed has changed, which provides an opportunity to explore and perhaps accelerate transformations that will contribute to making cities more liveable and people-focused. With fewer people commuting into city centres, more pedestrian space and designated cycle lanes can be introduced, on a permanent or pilot basis, through the reduction of road space. With more homeworking, having local facilities within walking distance will be increasingly needed. The potential permanent reduction in demand for office space may also encourage their change of use to inner-city residential living. This could lead to the creation of self-sufficient neighbourhoods based on the concept of the 15-minute city, where each local area contains all the key facilities to sustain urban living, enabling resilient and cohesive communities to thrive. This ‘ville de quart d’heure’ concept is being promoted in Paris by its mayor, Anne Hidalgo and the creation of 20-minute neighbourhoods is part of Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 . The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the virus has been
4. The south facing Ghat style steps create an attractive seating area and integrate the Regents Canal with Granary Square, London. 5. The extensive white ribbon around Leicester Square, London, is an informal seating element that enables people to sit at a social distance. 6. The length and design of the timber seat around the Shakespeare Fountain within Leicester Square allows for its comfortable sharing. Images © Marie Burns
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7. Moveable seating within Täby Torg makes for an inviting and relaxed environment. 8. The Miroir Ombière, the focal point of the Vieux Port in Marseilles, reflecting the flower market. Images © Marie Burns
Both existing and future neighbourhoods need to have public realm masterplans that establish a hierarchy of squares and parks, that are well connected by pedestrian and cycle routes, and that offer a range of facilities which reflect the needs within the city or neighbourhood
most virulent within communities living in densely built housing with no or restricted access to public spaces. Going forward, the planning regulations of new developments need to ensure the appropriate scale of open spaces for the number of future residents, and that circulation, play and recreational spaces are generous and available to all. Central to these plans is the promotion of improved health and wellbeing within communities. Both existing and future neighbourhoods need to have public realm masterplans that establish a hierarchy of squares and parks, that are well connected by pedestrian and cycle routes, and that offer a range of facilities which reflect the needs within the city or neighbourhood, fostering community cohesion. The development of these masterplans should be undertaken by multidisciplinary teams, including health professionals, within an enabling environment of project management and funding, so that design opportunities are maximised and supported. Although there has been much focus and action on improving the amount of pedestrian space and extending the provision of cycle lanes, the potential impact on the design of public squares has been less discussed, and can be informed by a range of design approaches taken from the case studies in the book. What is undisputable is the need for public squares that are easily accessible and well-integrated with their immediate hinterland, as part of a legible network of (mainly) pedestrian streets, as well as cycle routes and public transport. The success of the newly redesigned Place de la République in Paris has been based on a wider neighbourhood vision of reconnecting communities and reclaiming pedestrian space back from vehicles. While in Bordeaux, the reconfiguring of the city’s public realm as part of the introduction of a tramway and its regeneration initiatives has resulted in a pedestrian city core and the extension of the city to its riverside, through the creation of the Miroir d’eau. The successful masterplanning of both French projects and that of
Praço do Comércio in Lisbon, with reference to COVID-19, is providing alternative pedestrian routes to the squares to avoid overcrowding and calling attention to the open quality that the squares offer. Most squares do have this characteristic of openness, and in part that distinguishes them from parks and gardens, which tend to be enclosed and have defined pathways. This enables social distancing to be achieved, creating a sense of comfort within an outdoor environment. Where squares are enclosed, the widths of their entrances should be generous and inviting to allow the unhesitating passing of pedestrians. At Leicester Square in London, the new gateways are wide to accommodate the numbers of visitors, but also to bring the gardens and terraces together as one space. The chevron form of the pathways into the central gardens reinforces the spatial quality of the gateways. As part of the reconfiguration of the road spaces to create public squares, the example of Times Square in New York demonstrates the use of pilot schemes to test the impact of road closures prior to proposals being made permanent. Whereas in Barcelona, with its continued emphasis on public realm improvement, the introduction of the supergrid within the Cerdà Grid aims to reduce vehicular movement, in tandem with initiatives that change inappropriate land uses to enable community squares to be created that are accessible to everybody.
The mostly car-free city quarters of Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen in Oslo have been built around a series of public spaces with different characters which are accessible from several pedestrian routes. This approach gives choice both of destination and means of getting there, which helps dispersal of pedestrians and can reduce the potential of overcrowding. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for squares to be adaptable so that, if required, social distancing can be introduced. Squares are generally flexible, having been designed to accommodate events both of a citywide appeal and for local communities. For example, Granary Square in London could hold events, with social distance in place, such as outdoor films. The ghat-style steps that link the square to the Regent’s Canal not only create an amphitheatre for the purpose of events, they are an informal seating opportunity. Informal elements for seating or play should be included within designs, as during a COVID-19 period they can provide additional places to rest or play that, when not in use, do not look empty nor do they need to be taped off. In Leicester Square, the sinuous granite white ribbon that wraps around the gardens allows for socially distanced seating, while the circular timber seat within the garden is generous in length so that it can be comfortably ‘shared’. Formal seating provision could take the form of moveable seats, as used in Täby Torg, Sweden, so that people can choose 51
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9. The ephemeral mist of Bordeaux’s Miroir d’Eau. 10. In Nice the Place Massema’s striking black and white paving. 11. The lit statues of ‘Conversation à Nice’ transform Place Massema at night.
where to locate themselves, or the seating can be removed completely if that is necessary as part of a COVID-19 response, or to create additional space for circulation or events. Vibrancy with or around squares has long been a key characteristic of their success and attraction to their use. In a post COVID-19 era, squares become showcases and part of the message that cities are still open for business and safe to visit. They are community spaces that are there to support and provide confidence to local people that life continues, as in Marseille’s Vieux Port with its market stalls. Al fresco areas and food kiosks bring activity into a square, where they can be accommodated within the social distancing safeguards. The importance of appropriate
lighting within squares should not be overlooked, as it contributes to and extends their attraction while providing a sense of safety. The curation or management of squares is vital, and lessons must be learnt from the impact of the virus. Appropriate funding needs to be allocated to ensure that staffing levels and maintenance regimes are retained and strengthened going forward, particularly as public expenditure will inevitably come under pressure because of the economic impacts of COVID-19. Squares are the signatures of a city. Their designs need to capture the spirit of the place and its people, and bring excitement and joy. They should be uplifting and memorable – who has visited Place Massema
in Nice, and not been impressed by its striking black and white paving, only to revisit at night to be transfixed by the illuminated statues of the “Conversation à Nice” and the reflection of the white paving; or been entranced by the mist sprays of the Miroir d’Eau in Bordeaux. That is what design opportunities for public squares should achieve. They should move us, while addressing sustainability issues and creating a more accessible healthy and equitable quality of life for all as we move into a post COVID-19 world.
Marie Burns is a landscape architect, urban designer and transport planner and the author of New Life in Public Squares published by RIBA in 2020
F E AT U R E By Oliver Lee and Ian Rudolph
Staying in the city Recent responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have suggested a flight from the city to the suburbs and beyond. A landscape architect from The Landscape Partnership and an architect from Marks Barfield Architects outline reasons to be optimistic.
1. Surrey Canal Linear Park in Lewisham – connects communities, provides doorstep opportunities for play, contact with nature and accessible open space. © The Landscape Partnership
The impact of COVID-19 has brought about many changes in the way we are currently living, working, and moving about our towns, cities, and the world. These may be temporary, but hopefully some of the changes and opportunities for living differently will bring about a better way of life and response to the climate and biodiversity challenges we face. At the Landscape Partnership, we have been working with Marks Barfield Architects (MBA) on a mixeduse scheme, Stephenson House in the London Borough of Camden since before the current pandemic crisis. Here, we had already started to consider new ways of working, providing people greater contact with plants, nature and outdoor space, with a series of accessible roof terraces across several floors. Looking forward to the next ten years, we have started to consider how the new demands created by the pandemic might change the workspaces we are creating. To ensure they remain a safe and attractive environment to collaborate and meet people, they will perhaps require more space, including outdoor space, and need to be spatially flexible and
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diverse to meet fluctuating demands for density (a permanent or occasional increase in working from home) whilst still being financially viable. These forced changes to our patterns of lifestyle also put additional pressures and demands on our existing open spaces and public realm to provide safe space to maintain socially distanced leisure and journeys. With temporary road closures and pavement widening, it has given us a taste of what is possible. If this does not bring about permanent change then at least we should be looking at designing flexible and adaptable 2 streets and spaces that can be used differently when the cars and traffic have gone, or are at least restricted to the hours they can use the space. Creating a series of connected open spaces, from the smallest balcony, garden or terrace to streets, parks and the wider countryside, will help us cope with urban density increase and social distancing to make better use of the open spaces we have, and increase their value and role as accessible open space, connecting habitats and creating opportunities for food production. A changing climate provides us a reason to reduce areas of hard surfacing and create a network 3 of ‘cool streets’ to navigate in the heat and increase the opportunity for greater connectivity for all species. North Lewisham Links 2012 Illustrative layout Through our work in North North Lewisham Links 2012 Illustrative layout Lewisham over the years, we have seen the benefits of having a public realm and open space ‘links strategy’, looking strategically at an urban area in order to plan and realise the opportunities of well-connected places and spaces and to deliver a larger area of open space accessible to the community over time. In order to be meaningful on a wider scale, this strategic connectivity must go beyond the Borough boundary and reach out to the wider countryside, to help create a network of connected spaces forming a city-wide strategic park. Strangely, lower density suburbs today offer the city a chance to provide a new opportunity for a live work relationship with open space, and provide important green infrastructure links from countryside to city centre.
2. Stephenson House – accessible roof terraces and atrium gardens – planting within and on the building reflects natural environments. © Visual by Cityscape Digital
3. Stephenson House, Euston – creates new ways of working. © Visual by Cityscape Digital
4. North Lewisham Links Strategy project – identified a strategic and local network of open space and public realm projects to connect people and places. © The Landscape Partnership
A changing climate provides us a reason to reduce areas of hard surfacing and create a network of ‘cool streets’ to navigate in the heat and increase the opportunity for greater connectivity for all species. Development sites
Proposed new routes
Proposed new routes
Public open space
Public open space Plough Way
Existing major retail attractors
Existing major retail attractors
Deptford Park Convoys Wharf
Surrey Canal Triangle
Surrey Canal Triangle
Bridge House Meadows
Bridge House Meadows
Cutty Sark Cutty Sark
Deptford Lounge Faircharm
Goodwood Street Fordham Park
Margaret McMillan Park
New Cross Gate
Sun/ Kent Wharf Creekside
Sun/ Kent Wharf Creekside
Former Amersham Vale School Site
Former Amersham Vale School Site
Thanet Wharf Laban
Margaret McMillan Park
Batavia Road New Cross
New Cross Gate Goldsmiths
Deptford Lounge Faircharm
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5. Stephenson House – planting and seating create multifunctional outdoor spaces for working, relaxing and events. © Visual by Cityscape Digital
6. Stephenson House – pocket gardens on front elevation link through internal workspace to roof terraces at the rear. © Marks Barfield Architects
Positive greening of the inner city environment will encourage people to come to work where they can interact in a healthy urban location.
5 Ian Rudolph
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an opportunity for architects to rethink cities from the inside out. They need to attract workers back to city centres and allow neighbourhoods to thrive while addressing the climate change crisis. At Marks Barfield Architects, our latest workplace-driven, mixed use scheme Stephenson House (currently under construction in Euston) uses many of the International Well Building Institute principles to enhance the environment. With the help of The Landscape Partnership, our use of biophilic design enhances not only the interior atrium but also the exterior roof terraces – the hidden public realm. Positive greening of the inner-city environment will encourage people to come to work where they can interact in a healthy urban location. Throughout the building, there is natural daylight and views to nature through the use of planting at different levels. To encourage exercise, a feature staircase emerges from a sunken garden, inviting
people to bypass the lifts and climb over six stories. Double-height pocket gardens link niche gardens on the external façade, with double-height internal workspaces extending to roof terraces at the rear. The pocket gardens are adaptable internal workspaces with the potential to double up as places for additional staircases to connect, giving maximum flexibility for improved commercial benefit.
In the context of COVID-19, there is an obvious drive towards living a healthier life. Lower pollution levels (due to reduced traffic) and a reluctance to use public transport has lead people to choose cycling as their main mode of travel. The public realm and office buildings have to adjust to this. Our Euston project reuses the underground car park by transforming it into a cycle hub; a new front door
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7. Stephenson House – cross section through pocket garden, internal office, and roof terraces. © Marks Barfield Architects
8. Stephenson House – section through pocket gardens linking four office floors. © Marks Barfield Architects
to the office connects directly to the central atrium. At ground level, retail units offer sustainable business opportunities for cycle and repair shops, which will perhaps gradually replace the currently ubiquitous fast food outlets. We have seen growing public concern about food shortages during a pandemic. Many city dwellers have become more self-sufficient, turning their gardens or kitchen window sills into edible gardens. In my local area of Hackney, neighbours are interacting more, sharing excess fruit and vegetables, along with occasional recipes. Increased social interaction and development of informal food networks creates more cohesive and happier communities. Future design of the public realm can foster this. In Hackney, some council-owned spaces have been allowed to become community maintained for the greater good. The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden is a good example of
this. With its allotment-style edible gardens, outdoor seating, play and entertainment spaces, bar and pizza oven, this brownfield site has become a much-loved community asset. It is a positive example of how the future public realm could be designed at low cost with the engagement and support of local people at its heart. Cities and towns are, arguably, developed and adapted around food with market squares, supermarkets and (more recently) farmers’ markets and pop-ups for urban foodies. During the recent lockdown, MBA have worked with a multidisciplinary team to create a sustainable urban masterplan with a “food cathedral” and park at its heart. We are designing a large, controlled indoor urban farm that occupies the central part of a mixed-use city block. Above this is a park, surrounded by Passivhaus mansion blocks, all sitting above localised retail, bike hubs, repair shops,
workshops, and intergenerational social and educational spaces. Edible gardens provide fresh food, renewable energy is integrated, and waste is reused and recycled. Here, at a car-free neighbourhood level, parts of a city can become self-sufficient, creating safe, healthy and desirable places to live and work. We are aiming to help local authorities act as the developer, to realise zero-carbon and sustainable communities that are regenerative by design, creating jobs within a local circular economy. We at MBA believe there should be no concern about an exodus from the city to the counties. As architects, we have an exciting opportunity to work with local authorities and private sector developers to design thriving city and town centres that have sustainable public realm at their heart. It is conceivable that, in the future, Stephenson House in Euston will allow occupiers to turn the roof terraces into edible gardens and grow their own produce for the workplace. In parallel, and on a civic level, improved green pathways and cycle connections linking to other green spaces and public realm feels like a natural outcome, encouraging nature back into the city. It all feels achievable in, say, the next ten years.
Oliver Lee is a landscape architect and Director at The Landscape Partnership
Ian Rudolph is an architect and Practice Director at Marks Barfield Architects
It is conceivable that, in the future, Stephenson House in Euston will allow occupiers to turn roof terraces into edible gardens and grow their own produce for the workplace.
F E AT U R E By Jonathan Falkingham
Towards a new suburbia
1 1. A CGI of the new House by Urban Splash homes coming to Northstowe. © House by Urban Splash
The new village of Inholm in Cambridgeshire is being built by House by Urban Splash. Its creative director explains why it offers a blueprint for an approach to landscape design that accommodates the demands of high density housing whilst prioritising resident wellbeing and health.
he 406 home village, granted planning consent in February, will be the largest project in the UK to be manufactured offsite using volumetric construction. As the second phase of Northstowe, a 10,000 home sustainable new town on a 409 hectare site 8km from Cambridge City Centre, it represents an ideal opportunity to test and develop an approach to residential settlements that respond to the challenges of contemporary life.
The key principles of the project are based on decades of research and experience of the various parties involved – the project is being delivered by ‘House by Urban Splash’, a new company backed by Urban Splash, Homes England and Japan’s biggest house builder, Sekisui House, working with Proctor & Matthews Architects as masterplanner and lead architect Grant Associates as landscape architect, together with architects ‘shedkm’. It is an approach that is rooted in experience, but also attempts to
predict changes not only over the next decade but for generations to come. Whilst the design approach was established long before we understood the transformative effect of COVID-19, the pandemic has accelerated the changes in priorities and lifestyles we have sought to pre-empt, bringing a new urgency to ‘Live well by design’, our mission to transform the way we design our homes, neighbourhoods and public realm. The importance of a mixed, vibrant, sociable community has been thrown into sharp focus, as 57
F E AT U R E
the pandemic has forced us to work from home and decimated civic, social and cultural life. For many of us, home and neighbourhood has morphed from a place to sleep and recharge to the entirety of our existence; the backdrop to domestic, professional and public life. As we become increasingly dependent on our immediate environment, we expect more from our neighbourhood. We want a wide variety of people – at Inholm, we are providing for a range of different tenures and age groups including social housing and later life homes. All homes are modular buildings that can be configured by the buyer to their own design, an approach that we hope will encourage a wide range of house types, a varied demographic and the diversity required to create a vibrant neighbourhood with a rich mix of possibilities, amenities, people, landscapes and views. We need to push for economic and planning policies that encourage and support mixed use neighbourhoods, small scale enterprise, local food production and working from home. But we also need to create the spatial conditions that allow these things to thrive. We need to design places that encourage people to conduct as much of their lives as possible within walking distance of their home. Self-sufficient neighbourhoods need spaces to hire a car, park a bike, socialize and trade. We must accommodate a range of functions and activities and offer spaces – both outside and in – to work or play or relax. Spaces that allow for varying degrees of privacy and sociability; for unfolding and unexpected views and vistas; for changes in the quality of light. Spaces that allow us to live well by accident, and maximise wellbeing and quality of life. Inholm is part of an ongoing investigation into the way the design of the built environment can facilitate healthier lifestyles. The project forms part of the NHS England Healthy New Town initiative, an accolade that has assumed a new significance as we have become increasingly aware of the value and fragility of emotional and physical health, and as the NHS has achieved an unprecedented level of respect. A rich variety of landscaped spaces – ranging from the linear park 58
2. An aerial CGI showing the breadth of the offering at Inholm where 406 House by Urban Splash homes will be created. © House by Urban Splash
3. The House by Urban Splash semi-detached Town House is coming first to Inholm. © House by Urban Splash
that bisects the settlement to the intimate courtyards dotted through the site – provide opportunities for a mix of exercise, like balance and lifting bars, yoga and Tai Chi, to spaces for formal and informal play. Routes for walking, cycling and horse riding are knit through the development, linking the schools, lakes, bridleways, footpaths and the surrounding countryside. People-friendly streets and spaces will promote social interaction, helping to combat the social isolation – a problem that has taken on a new intensity as we learn to live with the memory, and the ever-present threat, of social
isolation and societal house arrest. The downside of high-density development – at 52 dwellings per hectare Inholm is significantly denser than Northstowe’s earlier phase – is that it allows limited space for private gardens within the neighbourhood itself. A key challenge now and for future developments is how to manage this conundrum without having a negative impact on residents’ quality of life. One solution, which we have successfully trialled at Port Loop in Birmingham and are now offering at Inholm, is to reduce private outdoor space to a small private garden or
F E AT U R E
4. Concept sketch of The Inholm masterplan. © Proctor & Matthews Architects
An increasing appreciation of the importance of wellbeing, and the inter dependency between humanity and the planet, has gone hand in hand with a desire for a better relation ship with the natural world.
decent sized roof terrace, enough for a barbecue and a seating area, and give access to much larger shared private spaces for running about, kicking a ball or whatever. All boundaries are planted, rather than man-made, and are kept as low as possible to minimise visual impact. The net impact is a continuous green landscape that invites nature in and lets it do its best, while allowing every resident to enjoy great landscape views. This critical mass of greenery elevates the landscape from the mundane constraints of a postage stamp sized garden, manicured lawn, picket fence and patio. Our landscape approach has been informed by our partners Sekisui House, who adhere to the Japanese principles of Gohon no ki, whereby they make a commitment to plant five new trees – three for the birds, two for the insects – for every house they build, and satoyama, the liminal space between the man-made and the natural landscape. This approach has resulted in a landscape strategy that creates rich habitats for wildlife and gives residents the benefits in terms of health, wellbeing and happiness associated with having a strong connection with the natural world. An increasing appreciation of the importance of wellbeing, and the interdependency between humanity and the planet, has gone hand in hand with a desire for a better relationship with the natural world. Growing, harvesting and eating local food reflects the changing seasons, encourages healthy eating, encourages social interaction, and strengthens connections between residents and landscape. We envisage an increasing focus on food production as a part of place-making. Edible and productive landscapes – including a ‘Productive and Playful’ trail of trees bearing fruit and nuts – are incorporated throughout Inholm. Perhaps above all, it makes residents more alert to the character of the local area, adding another layer of depth to its sense of place. As our neighbourhood becomes our world, so it becomes increasingly linked to our own identity. Character and uniqueness enrich our sense of where we belong and who we are. The masterplan for Inholm is highly
contextual, taking its inspiration from the rich archaeology of the site that provides evidence of early edge-offenland settlements that were set on high ground and defined by defensive perimeter edges and boundaries. The new village is enclosed by a perimeter of ‘Edge’ typology housing style that gives the development a clear identity and offers a clear boundary surrounding, defining and offering a sense of safety and protection to the streets, squares and lanes within. Material and elevational treatments are informed by research into Cambridgeshire and fenland traditions, buildings, art and, crucially, landscape. The plinth of the perimeter wall uses a dark, earthy charcoal tone inspired by the local St Neots Ware pottery. The vertical terracotta cladding is interspersed with glazed tiles that make a subtle reference to shimmering fenland reeds. Rough-sawn hardwood timber is also used for balustrades, pergolas and screens. These base
tones are enlivened by accent colours inspired by the Fens. Archaeological fragments found from digs in the local area inform the visual language of brick entrances, arches and portals that are used throughout the scheme offering a counterpoint to the modular housing, and helping to create a streetscape and silhouette that is distinctive and unique. Suburbs, by their very definition, are defined to their proximity to somewhere else – the ‘urb’ to which it is deemed to be subservient. People, and places, deserve more. A sense of belonging, and a sense of pride in where we live, are fundamental to our sense of wellbeing, self-worth and civic pride. We need to stop building places that define themselves in terms of a commute, a highway junction, a train station, or a bus stop, and start building places with an identity of their own. Jonathan Falkingham MBE is founder and Creative Director of House by Urban Splash 59
C L I M AT E E M E R G E N C Y B R I E F I N G By Claire Thirlwall
Planting decisions for mitigation and adaptation As part of a regular series, chartered landscape architect and author Claire Thirlwall explores tools and guidance available to help our professional understanding of this issue’s topic. It has been surprisingly difficult to find useful resources for landscape architects for this topic, something I hadn’t anticipated when I started my research. Most of the guidance I’ve found is from outside our
sector, showing that we have issues in common with forestry, horticulture, agriculture and geology, and that they are ahead of us in this area.
To make informed decisions, and to persuade clients of the value of new techniques, we need accurate and relevant data.
1. View of the new planting.
Beech Gardens and The High Walk, Barbican, London1
The Barbican – the Brutalist arts, conference and housing complex built on a site devastated by bombing of the City of London during World War Two – is a challenging site for planting. Most of the landscape areas are “podium landscapes”, above street level with uses beneath. The surrounding tall buildings create shade, and the raised locations limit soil depths. These constraints make the planting design by Nigel Dunnett, Professor of Planting Design and 1
Urban Horticulture (and recently elected Fellow of the Landscape Institute) all the more impressive. The design was created to require low levels of irrigation, with species selected to deal with future climate change. The design is made up of three designed plant communities to match the different microclimates around the site – steppe planting, shrub steppe and light woodland. The planting mixes are not recreations of natural plant communities, but they are selected to recreate the processes of natural or wild plant ecosystems. The planting is designed for year-round interest and seasonal change (important considerations for a residential site), and to provide colour and visual delight. The scheme was awarded the ‘LI
‘Barbican’, in Nigel Dunnett, 2019, <https://www.nigeldunnett.com/a-barbican/> [accessed 31 July 2020].
© Nigel Dunnett
Fellows’ Award for Creating Healthy Places’, and the ‘Planting Design, Horticulture and Strategic Ecology Award’ at the LI Awards 2018.
2. Barbican Plan. © Nigel Dunnett
3. Sequoiadendron giganteum or Giant Redwood – 1 acre of old-growth redwood forest can store up to 890 tonnes of carbon2 the equivalent of driving 8 million miles in an average passenger car. 3
Planting decisions and carbon
4. Garden design in a changing climate – West Country Garden in 2100 with mean temperature 3°C warmer than current, showing lawns converted to planting areas, drainage swales, pollarded trees to resist wind toppling, raised beds and downpipes directed into storm water drainage.
Carbon is a major component of plants – they take, or sequester, atmospheric carbon dioxide and convert it into the sugars that make up their leaves, stems and roots. Once a plant dies and decays that carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Plants on land have taken up approximately 25% of the carbon dioxide that humans have emitted.4 When selecting plants and trees, volume and lifespan are two main factors to consider – a large long lived tree will retain more carbon than a short lived small perennial. If a tree is felled, the carbon will be retained. Guidance on plant selection by carbon sequestration is an area I’ve not found data for, but the new UK Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) provides some information that may help with calculating the potential carbon sequestration for woodland planting.5 The WCC is the new standard for forestry projects for the mitigation of climate change, which allows woodland owners to estimate the
© Cameron and Culham
carbon stored to allow carbon accounting, with the potential for payment. The toolkit is designed for those seeking registration, but it does allow for the calculation of the potential sequestration, including the impact of site clearance and soil carbon. The reference tables included in the toolkit are a useful summary. How the soil is managed during construction, and through the life of a project, also impacts on the level of carbon stored. Soils are among the planet’s largest reservoirs of carbon, and improved land management can increase the level of carbon stored.6 Some interesting work by researchers at Newcastle University is exploring the potential for brownfield sites to store carbon, via the process of carbonation. On sites with high levels of calcium from demolition, waste, atmospheric carbon combines with the calcium to form calcium carbonate.7 Unlike peatlands, the rate of sequestration is rapid, with one hectare of urban soil sequestering up to 85 tonnes of atmospheric carbon a year, equivalent to 165 hectares of forest.8 Over the lifespan of a plant there are many factors to consider. High water use, fossil fuel burning maintenance, and even the way it is transported to site, all offset the carbon storage. More work is needed to help landscape architects assess the best combination of plants to maximise climate change mitigation.
S Francisco, ‘Research from Save the Redwoods League and Humboldt State University Confirms Significant Role of Redwood Forests in California’s Climate Fight’, 3.
Royal Horticultural Society – Gardening in a Challenging Climate9 This 2017 RHS technical report is an excellent primer on climate change and horticulture. It includes detailed information about the potential impacts of climate change on planting decisions, as well as predictions as to how the use of garden space may change. The report explores the link between gardens and climate change, lists the implications of climate projections for horticulture and considers the ways we can adapt to and mitigate for climate change, looking at risks and opportunities. Points for landscape profes sionals to note include an increase in invasive organisms, reduced soil health and the impacts of resource use, such as water or fertilisers.
A particularly interesting section is the ideas for garden design in a changing climate – cross-sections through three UK gardens in 2100, presuming a mean temperature ranging between 2° and 5°C warmer than current. Resilient plant and tree species are listed, as well as ideas to help manage storm water surges and using plants for localised cooling. The reference list is also a useful resource.
E Webster, R Cameron & A Culham, Gardening in a Changing Climate, UK, Royal Horticultural Society, 2017, <www.rhs.org.uk/climate-change>. 9
O US EPA, ‘Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator’, in US EPA, 2015, <https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator> [accessed 18 August 2020]. 3
‘A Global Garden: Plants Storing Carbon’, NASA Earth Observatory, 2011, <https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/ images/51289/a-global-garden-plants-storing-carbon> [accessed 4 August 2020]. 4
‘Home – UK Woodland Carbon Code’, <https://www.woodlandcarboncode.org.uk/> [accessed 3 August 2020].
‘Soil Carbon Sequestration | FAO SOILS PORTAL | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’, <http://www.fao.org/soils-portal/soil-management/soil-carbon-sequestration/en/> [accessed 4 August 2020]. 6
‘Turning urban wastelands into carbon capture gardens’, in ScienceDaily, <https://www.sciencedaily.com/ releases/2016/12/161213074347.htm> [accessed 3 August 2020]. 7
F and RA (Defra) Department for Environment, ‘Environmental Value Look-Up Tool (EVL) Tool’, , 2015, <http://sciencesearch.defra.gov.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=More&Location=None&Completed= 0&ProjectID=19514#Description> [accessed 8 January 2020]. 8
Claire Thirlwall is a director of Oxfordshire-based landscape practice Thirlwall Associates. Her book “From Idea to Site: a project guide to creating better landscapes” for RIBA Books was published in January 2020. 61
LIJ-HalfPage-2020.ai 1 27/01/2020 14:49:06
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By Carole Wright Images © Carole Wright
The Ground We Stand On
A Lambeth walk honouring Mary Seacole This Lambeth walk is to honour – Mary Seacole (1805 – 1881), a Jamaican businesswoman and pioneering nurse who learned folk and traditional medicines in her Black mother’s boarding house in Kingston, Jamaica. Mary gained experience treating the tropical diseases of her mother’s patients, who included plantation slaves and European service men. Her father was a white Scottish soldier in the British Army.
Pasley Park, SE17 3ES Mary had returned to London from nursing British soldiers in the Crimean War, almost destitute. A four-day military fundraising festival was held for her in 1857, at this former site of the Surrey Music Hall and Royal Surrey Gardens. Over 80,000 people attended, including military figures and Royalty. The walk then proceeds via Manor Place and onto Braganza Street. It turns onto Doddington Grove, which is lined with London plane trees – some of the first systematically planted street trees. From Doddington Place the walk turns right onto Kennington Park Place.
Kennington Park, SE11 4JJ Here is where Mary’s fellow Jamaican, Bob Marley, a global Reggae star and noted Rastafarian, – played football whilst exiled in London in 1977. He visited the Rastafarian Temple in nearby St Agnes Place. This religious and social movement developed in Jamaica in the 1930s. Kennington Road, SE11 6HR The route proceeds along Kennington Road until reaching Black Prince Road. The London plane trees on the western side date back to the mid19th Century, and have the names of the twelve Apollo astronauts who walked on the lunar surface. The walk continues up Kennington Road until the junction with Lambeth Road. Captain William Bligh House, SE1 7PT At 100 Lambeth Road is a 1780s townhouse with an English heritage blue plaque, currently for sale for £2.7 million. Coincidentally, the cost of the house is equivalent to the number of slaves that were taken from West Africa to the West Indies in the Transatlantic slave trade. Bligh, a naval captain, made an unsuccessful 1789 trip on HMS Bounty to transport 1,000 breadfruit trees from Tahiti to the British colonies in the Caribbean. A second trip brought the trees to Mary’s homeland, Jamaica. Continuing west down Lambeth Road, pass number 17, the former Lambeth Walk pub (now residential flats). Lambeth Bridge and the Garden Museum can be seen.
Garden Museum, SE1 7LB A carved breadfruit sits on top of the tomb of William Bligh in the Garden Museum – the first museum in the
world dedicated to garden history, and housed in the deconsecrated St‑Maryat-Lambeth church.
The walk takes in the Thames Path along the Albert Embankment towards St Thomas’ Hospital. Steps lead onto Westminster Bridge and then right into the hospital gardens. Statue of Mary Seacole, SE1 7GA Unveiled in 2016, a 4.9 metre bronze statue of Mary Seacole, sculpted by artist Martin Jennings, towers in the garden of St Thomas’ Hospital.
In these times of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, Mary’s statue is a fitting reminder of the thousands of BAME doctors, nurses and frontline workers who have died because of the pandemic. She faces the Houses of Parliament, as a constant reminder of the debt owed to migrant workers, and of how we must remain visible in the landscape, whether we are made out of bronze or flesh.
Carole Wright is a South-London based community garden manager and beekeeper 63
LI life: reflections By Jane Findlay
Excluded communities and greenspace LI president Jane Findlay reflects on some of the key issues that emerged from the CPD Day “Bringing nature into the City – place and health in the time of COVID-19”.
he COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted what an important role green public space, and nature, play in all our lives. Before the lockdown, many saw these spaces as a luxury, as something nice to have but not essential, perhaps even a frivolous expense. The public and politicians now more than ever realise how important these places are for health, nature and wellbeing. And whilst we might enjoy our parks, plazas and tranquil gardens, we must understand that many still do not have easy access to these vital amenities. At this point in the current coronavirus crisis, it is apparent that many city dwellers became prisoners in their own homes, with no access to views of any green space and nature, emphasising the paucity of parks and green open spaces in many of our towns and cities. However, in places where there are great parks, residents have taken advantage of the spring and summer weather, though sometimes causing social distancing issues and antisocial behaviour. Is this also exacerbated by the low density of green space? These are the questions and issues we will have to address in the months and years to come. Whilst the spotlight is shining on the importance of green space
for people, nature and climate, it is important to recognise that some communities feel, and are, excluded from parks, green open spaces, and countryside. The issue of excluded communities was a major area of discussion during the recent Landscape Institute CPD day: Bringing Nature into the City – place and health in the time of COVID-19. People experience parks differently according to who they are – their social, cultural and economic background, and whether these spaces feel welcoming and relaxing or threatening and even hostile. Who benefits from our parks and green open spaces and also from any investments that are being made now or in the future? What became evident in the debate that followed was that the full range of experience needs to be considered if all green space users are to be comfortable and feel that a particular space or place belongs to them. ‘The aesthetics of place need to break free from historic preconceptions that assume universal principles and homogeneous societies. The way in which race and space manifests itself in the built environment has to be understood through the subtle, sensual and inconspicuous experiences of black and minority ethnic people in all their diversity, as well as their reading of public and green spaces, travel
and safety and work and leisure.’ – Karin Woodley, when she was Chief Executive of Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust for the publication by the Design Council (CABE) ‘Inclusion by Design’ 2008 We are at a pivotal point; this could be the renaissance of urban parks. There is an increasing call from landscape and parks professionals advocating public spending to improve access to green spaces, and this is supported by many national organisations like the CPRE and the National Trust. Research recently commissioned by the National Trust1 makes a powerful economic case to this government for significant investment across the UK in greening the country’s most left behind and greyest urban communities. The green infrastructure investment could bring £200 billion in physical health benefits by preventing disease, and create mental wellbeing benefits by improving the quality of peoples’ lives. But in the clamour for new and improved green space, it is important that we shape our parks, green open spaces and public realm so that we don’t discriminate by design. We must learn and do so much more to involve local communities when designing to deliver equal access and inclusion.
The aesthetics of place need to break free from historic preconceptions that assume universal principles and homogeneous societies.
Levelling Up and Building Back Better Through Urban Green Infrastructure: An Investment Options Appraisal – Vivid Economics and Barton Willmore, June 2020 1
LI life: food security By Rhys Jones
The Humanitarian Landscape Collective 1. Reviving the growing boxes with new seedlings at the Brixton Youth Centre. © Jojo Sureh, Cook to Care
n 26th March, architectural critic, designer and educator Michael Sorkin died from COVID-19. In addition to his design work and writing, one of his most famous pieces of work is “250 Things Every Architect Should Know”, a meditative list of historical, environmental, social, material and political factors we should be aware of when creating places for people. Michael lost his life to a virus that is still rampaging around the globe and in the time since its outbreak (combined with the Black Lives Matter movement) we have had a harsh light shone through the cracks in our society, and realised what we as landscape architects should know, but don’t. Here’s a few of them: – How someone can feed their family without going to the supermarket – Why there are so few black landscape architects – Who really has access to high quality green space – Who really considers it a “high quality” green space The Humanitarian Landscape Collective are looking for answers to some of these and, in response to the food crisis brought on by COVID, we have taken a close look at food security and how it can be improved at the community level. We started by leading a social media campaign, called Food Share Initiative, to use Clap for Carers as an opportunity to rally up food bank donations amongst neighbours. It was a knee-jerk reaction to the surge in demand for food banks and saw an outpouring of participants
(and photos of baked beans) from across the country. However, this was by no means a long-term solution, much as food banks generally should not be seen as a long-term solution to food poverty. Instead the answer lies in eradicating poverty and building food resilience at the community level. We’ve started to investigate the latter by partnering up with Cook to Care: a food aid organisation run by Jojo Sureh, which cooks and delivers food to vulnerable people in South London. As she is based in the kitchen of a youth centre in Brixton, we’re taking the opportunity to run a co-creation and food growing project with the young people, using the neglected garden and raised planters. We want to know what food and landscape means to them, and in return we’ll share our skills and knowledge to empower them to improve the garden and forge a closer
connection with food. The idea is to weave our project in with the Centre’s own mentorship programme and offer employability skills to the youth, some of whom were gang-affiliated and grew up in some of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in the country. We’ll be sharing lessons from this project and exploring the subject with a workshop later in the year. We’re looking into one of the many things that the profession doesn’t know, and COVID is a bleak reminder of how much they matter. With the impacts of climate change, these crises will be happening a lot more often, so it’s time that we start looking for the answers to them. Rhys Jones is a co-founder of the Humanitarian Landscape Collective and a Consultant Landscape Architect at LUC
LI life: Policy update By Theo Plowman
Back to School The summer has been a busy time for policy with no summer break in sight; there were several important consultations launching and concluding. The government’s planning white paper was introduced, DEFRA’s England Tree Strategy launched and the Environmental Land Management Consultation was revived and settled in the space of a month.
arliament and schools returned on September 1st and whilst the attention of the chamber may be focused on the return of students, Brexit legislation quickly returns with the Fisheries Bill. Whilst you’d be forgiven for perhaps overlooking the Bill as seascape more than landscape, the debate and subsequent voting will give an indication as to how Boris Johnson’s government will wield his 80-seat majority and may give indications for future bills more pertinent to our sector. Following the conclusion of the most recent round of UK-EU trade negotiations, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said it ‘seems unlikely’ that a deal will be agreed ahead of December 31. If the UK is to get a deal it will be a lengthy and time-consuming affair, with lots of legislation needing to pass through Parliament in a relatively short time period. Parliamentarians will also want to know how the Government plans to support those losing their jobs, and what will be done to try and create new jobs in order to prevent unemployment rising further. Planning White Paper August 6th 2020 has in some planning circles already been coined “Planning Reform Day” with the Government’s Planning for the Future white paper landing with a degree of ferocity, with claims it will deliver “radical reform unlike anything we have seen since the Second World War”. Whether it will be quite so “D-Day” is a question that
the planning sector is still grappling with. The consultation period on the white paper ends on 29 October 2020. The aspiration in the document is that (subject to time extensions for recent plans) new local plans should be in place by the end of this Parliament, so by Spring 2024. Given that those local plans will take up to 30 months to be put in place under the new system proposed, the necessary primary legislation will need to have been passed and in force, with any necessary accompanying Regulations and guidance, by Autumn 2021. This article will briefly outline the proposed reforms, and some of the key sections for our sector to consider further as the consultation moves forward. Reform of Local Plans The NPPF is here to stay, and is now to be ‘representative of all general planning policies’ and will act as the standard by which local plans will adhere. Local plans will be simplified into three new development categories: – Growth areas: Suitable for substantial development – essentially a fast-track scheme for those areas ordained suitable. – Renewal: Areas suitable for development but with specific usage requirements e.g. residential, healthcare and education (reminiscent of U.S. zoning laws). – Protect: Stricter areas such as AONBs, Green Belts and ‘significant areas of green space.’ Could see usage of National Character Areas or other measures of landscape ‘beauty’.
Digitising Planning and Consultation A classic trope of tattered planning notices attached to lampposts has come to be a symbol of the outdated system. Perhaps hastened by lockdown and the subsequent rush to digitise planning activity, the government is seeking to shift development proposals and consultations to be digital by default. Resourcing design As noted in the recent Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission (BBBBC) there have been clear indications that many LPAs lack staff and skills to deliver better, beautiful design. The white paper accepts that there have been cuts and subsequent skills drains, but points towards a somewhat nebulous “culture change” in planning departments to make them more digitally-adept and forward looking. All these changes will, of course, need money, and whilst there is a promise of a resourcing and skills framework there isn’t a huge amount of detail around how to properly resource design. Design Codes and ‘Beauty’ Whilst we are eagerly awaiting the response to the BBBBC’s final report (due in the coming months) it is clear that government has read and pushed ahead with some of the report’s recommendations. One of the most appealing of the commissions ideas appears to be the “fast-track for beauty”, the idea being that beautiful well-designed developments will have lightning quick approval. Unfortunately, I have neither the space or the ink
to get into the debates of beauty in design, but suffice to say delivery of such a framework may prove somewhat problematic. The new National Design Guide will broadly continue to be the guide for what is considered to be good design. The government are expected to publish an accompanying National Model Design Code and a refreshed Manual for Streets. Reform of Developer Contributions Section 106 agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) will be exchanged with a new type of infrastructure levy, which will be a fixed percentage of the value of a new development. Importantly it will also fund amenity spaces and other green infrastructure. This has been greeted with some scepticism as to how the funding will match the ambitious targets for on-site affordable housing let alone things such as green infrastructure. One of the key changes will be that these new funds will only be available at the point of occupation and that local authorities will have to pay for infrastructure such as landscape work upfront. However, under the proposals, councils would be allowed to borrow against levy revenues, to forward-fund infrastructure. Sustainability and Climate Change Under the new planning system all homes will need to be “zero-carbon ready” with the ability to become fully zero carbon homes over time as the electricity grid decarbonises, without
the need for further costly retrofitting. There is also a mandate that all new homes are carbon neutral by 2050. Next Steps This note serves as a brief introduction to these proposals, we are currently consulting with members on our full response. We look forward to working with the government to shape these proposals and to ensure that they work for the benefit of people, place, and nature. The consultation on Planning for the Future closes on 29th October 2020. It is open to everyone, across public and private sectors. We will be responding to the proposals shortly. To have your say, and to get involved in our policy development, contact policy@ landscapeinstitute.org. LI Responds to ELMS Consultation The LI, working with internal and external partners, published a joint and individual response to the Environmental Land Management Consultation. Leading on a response from the Environmental Policy Forum (EPF – a network of UK environmental professional bodies), the LI contributed to the policy discussion document, as well outlining several principles for an effective framework. The initial focus of the system is to replace subsidy for farming as we leave the EU; however, we must not lose the wider ambition set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan. The Environmental Land Management
system can be the main delivery framework for transforming all land through investment and sustainable resource management. This must be built upon the strong foundation of legal protections contained in the Environment Bill: 1. The UK’s exit from the EU should not lead to a reduction in the overall financial envelope for the achievement of positive environmental outcomes, especially for the period of the 25-year Environment Plan. 2. The new scheme(s) must have the ambition to improve a much greater extent of land than currently, and therefore to target investment where it will deliver the greatest benefits. This will mean ensuring that the scheme is open and appealing to anyone who owns or manages land, as well as increasing uptake amongst smaller sites, particularly in areas fringing towns and cities. 3. That any transition period begins with a fixed end date, after which point no public funds will support farming practices that lead to a decline in the quality of the natural environment. Read the full response here: https://www.landscapeinstitute.org/ consultation/environmental-landmanagement-schemes-consultation/ Theo Plowman is Policy and Public Affairs Manager at the Landscape Institute
Transforming the urban landscape An international ideas competition on streets, squares and greenspaces in response to COVID-19 https://competitions.landscapeinstitute.org/ transforming-the-urban-landscape/
LI life: links and downloads
Watch our most recent CPD Day and view the Jellicoe Lecture CPD Day: Tackling the Climate Emergency
Jellicoe Lecture 2020: Diversifying a Profession: An Opportunity for Change
On 22 and 23 September our CPD day addressed climate emergency. Keynote speaker Ugandan climate activist Hilda F Nakabuye, spoke about the actions we need to undertake as individuals in order to join the fight against climate change. The keynote speaker on Day 2 was Baroness Julia Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee, Committee on Climate Change who led a conversation on ‘Adapting to Climate Change’ and the importance of nature-based approaches in the built environment. Expert speakers explored climate change from an international perspective looking. These included: Maimunah Mohd Sharif (Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme), Ignace Schops (EUROPARC President and Climate adviser to the UN) and Jane Hutt (Deputy Minister and Chief Whip for the Welsh Assembly). Available to view on LI Campus now. https://campus.landscapeinstitute.org/
This year’s Jellicoe lecture was devoted to discussing how we can best foster a diverse and inclusive landscape profession. The keynote speaker was Priya Shah, communications consultant and founder of BAME in Property, one of the foremost ethnic diversity networks in the built environment sector. The panel was chaired by Diana Chrouch, Consultant at Diversity Means Business, FSB Chair of National Policy for BAME Business Owners, and Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at the Worshipful Company of Constructors. The panel included: – Sarah Atkinson, Chief Executive at the Social Mobility Foundation – Jane Fortescue, Senior Landscape Architect at FPCR – Donald Roberts, Director, ETLA – Kush Kanodia MBA, Director of Strategy at the Kaleidoscope Group – Martin Pong, Product Manager at 10x Banking and Stonewall Young Leader Available to view on LI Campus from 13 November.
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Join us live or catch up on LI Campus, the LI’s online training and events platform. Follow the links to find out more. GreenBlue Urban: The Landscape Below Ground Available now to download from LI Campus Howard Gray GreenBlue Urban have always viewed our role in the urban design industry as educators – carrying out countless presentations, exhibitions and learning days for a wide variety of disciplines. Our investment in teaching people joining the landscape and arboriculture industries has been important to our towns and cities, many of which have benefited from high quality, resilient urban realm schemes creating sustainable and pleasant places and spaces. The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the need to provide the same level of educational support. GreenBlue Urban has embraced the digital age, and in particular is proud to support LI Campus. GreenBlue Urban have also focussed on providing resources online, with daily updates on the website; technical support, case studies and relevant blogs enabling all urban realm practitioners to keep up to date with the very latest in sustainable development methodologies. Our most recent webinar for LI members, The Landscape Below Ground, is available on Campus and showcases differing tree planting methodologies together with the results achieved through academic trials on both sides of the Atlantic. This very pertinent subject will be of interest to many, as there is much conflicting advice available, but it is critical that we plant trees in a way that will guarantee longevity, otherwise future generations will not enjoy the canopy cover from which we all benefit. Numerous successful case studies are available to reinforce the message that trees planted properly can beat the odds to grow to maturity and bring benefits for generations. New Government advice including the proposed requirement to have tree-lined streets in new residential developments will add pressure
on landscape professionals to fight for enough space in these new areas for tree planting. This conflict is fully understood by GreenBlue Urban, and the support of the Landscape Institute for all landscape professionals will prove invaluable as we seek to maintain the UK’s green and pleasant land. We thank the Landscape Institute for including GreenBlue Urban as a sponsor of Campus and look forward to a bright future as we increasingly appreciate the immense value of green infrastructure, and the understanding that collaborative working together is the way ahead. Howard is an enthusiast for successful urban trees. He has been planting trees in urban areas for over 40 years and is passionate about making sure that every tree has the same opportunity of realising its species potential. Understanding the many conflicts, both financial and engineering, with planting in our congested towns and cities, he can work with designers and contractors to achieve the best result. Having worked on a number of SuDS schemes across Europe, with both local authorities and developers, he is uniquely positioned to present the vision – enabling sustainable cities through the use of green and blue infrastructure.
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Vestre: Nordic Life in Open Spaces [webinar 2] 1 December 2020 Romy Rawlings Impersonal cities rarely make good meeting places, and, in these times, we would probably all agree that we don’t need more boring streets where nobody interacts with each other. We are living in an ever more diverse society and we need to value diversity and eliminate prejudice in order to allow people to get to know each other, so at Vestre our vision is to create arenas for everyday democracy where people from all backgrounds come together. The best way to do that is to allow people to meet, share experiences, life stories, and ideas: that’s how we create a sense of community and belonging. It’s no coincidence that, in recent times, more people are looking to Nordic countries and how they organise their society, which is characterised by free-market capitalism and a universal welfare state. It is a partnership between employers, trade unions and the government, promoting individual autonomy, social mobility and gender equality, leading to high productivity in the workforce. Of course, the Nordic model is also behind the development of Scandinavian design over the last 60 years and for Vestre, design is always about more than aesthetics. Beautiful design must be accompanied by a consideration of democracy, affordability, accessibility, and sustainability. For instance, one important point around inclusivity is that we consistently refuse to offer hostile design details on our products. This welcoming approach to the public realm relates directly to allemannsretten, or the right to roam. This traditional right ensures that everybody gets to experience nature and in Norway you can walk almost anywhere you want, even across larger privately-owned areas, as long as you show respect for nature.
Vectorworks: Vectorworks intuitive tools to design the complex 29 October 2020 Katarina Ollikainen The new version of Vectorworks is out, and for the 2021 design and BIM software version there are some dramatic enhancements to the Vectorworks Landmark tools. Naturally, we’ll focus on this in the upcoming webinar on 29 October, and show you how to use a few of these features in a 3D workflow. More and more landscape architects are transitioning to working in 3D, a necessity for a BIM workflow but also a massive advantage for visualisation and inclusion. In the webinar, we’ll demonstrate how to build a terrain model from imported data, how to add things like buildings and existing structure and how, with a few clicks, you can import a tree survey and populate the site with 3D trees that contain all the survey data. Later, we’ll cover manipulating the site, and look at an updated feature for 2021 — the Grade tool — an enhanced way of creating connected grades. This tool will improve the control of levels and slopes immensely, both for the terrain modelling and for aligning hardscapes. The next feature we’ll look at is the revamped Landscape Area tool. This is now a fully parametric tool which uses true styles. Further, it makes it incredibly easy to make sweeping changes to the content of landscape areas over a whole project. You can swiftly replace one style for another or adjust the content of a style and then push it out to all instances in the file. We have also added things like dividers in the tags, so you can sort the displayed content, as well as a simplification tolerance control for irregularly curved areas. However, the most significant improvement, and a considerable advantage for BIM, is that landscape areas now can contain planting medium. You can specify what kind of soil or compost to use and to what depth, if you want mulch on the top, and even build up full profiles for
Another important principle that we utilise in the design of our furniture is proxemics: the study of human use of space and the effects that population density has on behaviour, communication, and social interaction. The study of proxemics evaluates the way people in which people interact with others and, ultimately, the design of our urban spaces. We at Vestre are fascinated by the way in which different seating influences our behaviour and our furniture exists in infinitely configurable formats to allow for the creation of interesting social spaces. Behind the design of Vestre products is always our desire to create social meeting places for all. Learn more about approach by signing up for our next webinar. Romy Rawlings is a Chartered Landscape Architect and UK Commercial Director for Vestre, a Norwegian designer and manufacturer of street furniture. Romy’s 25-year career has been based in the landscape sector, and she is passionate about the impact of good design upon those using outdoor space, believing that landscape architects are well placed to counter many of today’s global issues. Romy is a former trustee of the Landscape Institute and chair of the LI Diversity and Inclusion working group.
roof or podium planting with everything from drainage board to waterproofing membrane. The Landscape Area tool talks with the site model and follows the surface contours and can create cut-outs in the site model, so you’ll get a correct cut and fill calculation straight out of the box! We’ve only touched on a fraction of what Landmark 2021 can do. If you want to know more, join us for the webinar, but don’t forget to log in to Vectorworks University and watch the new feature videos there as well. Lastly, visit vectorworks.net/2021 to learn more about our latest version. Prior to June 2019, Katarina worked as Senior Designer for Ann-Marie Powell Studio for five years. During this time, she had the opportunity to develop the studios workflow and to introduce new ways of working with, and sharing, data in the design process. Her interest in systematic approaches to problems and workflows stems from an earlier life where she developed and wrote manuals for parachute equipment. Katarina is now the Landscape Industry Specialist at Vectorworks UK and in this role, on top of playing Vectorworks (she has been instrumental in product planning for Vectorworks Landmark), she’s involved in the continuous work on BIM implementation. The main focus is on collaboration and workflows – how can we exchange information in the most effective way with all parties involved, and how can we use all this when we communicate with clients? It’s all about people.
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Hardscape: Collaborating with Artists in the Public Realm and Placemaking Pioneers 21 January 2021 Mathew Haslam, managing director, Hardscape This webinar offers an insight into how artists working in the public realm express their placemaking aspirations, bringing creativity and physical narratives to place, through cultural, social and heritage-led contexts, and looking how that journey is developed with research, sampling, material selection and most importantly, creative collaboration. This is an opportunity to get behind the scenes of placemaking projects and understand the vision of the artist, from initial design concepts to implementation, including the challenges of material choice, logistics, value engineering and client discussions, through to finalÂ installation. Public art is freely accessible to everyone and anyone. It is often a reflection on society and can intentionally or indirectly determine a sense of place through its response to a particular site. It can be an all-encompassing communal activity and public engagement, reaching a wide variety of people. It can be inspiring, stimulating, divisive and challenging but can also help invigorate all sections of a community. Traditionally public art provided a legacy of monuments, memorials, civic statues and sculptures commemorating or celebrating historic events and people. More recently the scope of public art has expanded, contributing to placemaking through embedded interpretation in the landscape design or via fleeting activities such as performance, dance, theatre, and ephemeral installations. Street art, including murals and graffiti, whether permanent or temporary, also embraces political themes and social protest, adding energy and dynamism to the public realm.
Streetlife: Choosing sustainable materials for street furniture 18 November 2020 Stefanie Leitner In the world of street furniture there are several trends coming up. When it comes to materials, wooden elements are an all-time favorite with a natural look. It is environmentally friendly and, when the right wood type is chosen, it grows back. No extra treatments are needed to create the material. Of all kinds of wood, we recommend hardwood. Although this is not locally sourced, the quality of the wood stands for qualities that outperforms softwoodâ€™s features. Hardwood has a very dense structure, so the chance of torsion or cracks are minimised. Due to the density, hardwood is used untreated, so very low maintenance is required. On the other end of the spectrum, we have plastic. Streetlife, a designer and producer of street furniture and small bridges, aims to be an inspiration for the circular economy, creating products for public spaces while preserving distinctive design and functionality. Achievements are made with three types of reused plastic, with their own colours, textures, and applications. Thanks to the development in this field of research, we have succeeded in linking those material features to a specific product family where the material does justice to the product. The naming of the recycled products are linked to their appearance. All Black is made from industrial and household waste plastic. This includes plastic bags, building and agricultural plastics, bottles, caps and beer crates. The material is composed of two thermoplastics: 50% PE and 50% PP. All Black has a matt appearance and a rough texture and is black throughout due to the use of a natural dye (carbon). The colour is retained by UV stabilisers. Lava Grey is made entirely from recycled household plastic waste, such as packaging, cups, bags and trays. It consists of around 75% recycled
Permanent public artworks can remain in the public eye for decades and as such require skill and consideration in commissioning, collaborating, conceiving, creating, delivering, installing and maintaining. Public art and creative interpretation should be planned from the outset of any placemaking project. Artists should join project teams early to ensure their contribution has an opportunity to flourish. This two-way creative collaboration can influence the design process from the start, which in turn unlocks greater creative potential and tangible economic value to the project. Register for this insightful webinar and listen to the practical experiences of experts who have created and produced stunning, innovative public art for the public realm. Mathew is a 1980s geology graduate who formed Hardscape Products Ltd in 1994, Mathewâ€™s desire has always been to encourage the use of raw geological resources, whether in an organic state, or shaped by multiple production techniques to realise aesthetic demands and functions. He is a passionate advocate of creative design especially in the landscape design sector. Mathew puts maximum energy into educating and informing others externally, whether a student at an early stage of understanding paving specification or professionals wanting to know more about hard landscaping material choice.
PE and 25% recycled PP. This new anthracite grey substance has a fairly rough texture. In certain places, the surface reveals how All Black the material Recycled Plastic Beams in a Free Form Tree Isle flowed into the mould during the casting process, like a lava stream. Speckles of coloured plastic are visible in the grey mass, highlighting the origin of the recycled material. Cloudy Grey is made from both plastic and textile waste. It consists of 50% recycled LDPE plastic combined with 50% recycled textile fibres from used clothes. This durable, grey material with blue tones has a matt appearance and an uneven texture. Fibres of coloured clothing add to the vibrant marbled surface, affording Cloudy Grey a unique character. Stefanie Leitner is an Architect Advisor for the United Kingdom and Ireland at Streetlife. Since joining the company in January 2018, she has worked together with landscape architects on various projects. Before joining Streetlife, Stefanie studied Architecture, Architectural History and Art History in Vienna, Leiden and Portsmouth. In Austria, she worked as a freelance designer for almost 9 years until she settled in the Netherlands.
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