Landscape Journal - Autumn 2020: Greener Recovery

Page 60

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, <> [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