Issue 3 â€“ 2020
Bringing nature into the city Place and health in the age of COVID-19
DESIGN TANK PHOTO IVAN BRODY
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.
Bringing nature into the city
Stella Bland, Head of Communications, LDA Design Amanda McDermott CMLI, Landscape Architect, 2B Landscape Consultancy Ltd. Peter Sheard CMLI, Landscape Architect. 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: Adam White CEO: Daniel Cook Landscapeinstitute.org @talklandscape landscapeinstitute landscapeinstituteUK Advertise in Landscape Contact Saskia Little, Business Development Manager 0330 808 2230 Ext 030 Saskia.Little@landscapeinstitute.org
Landscape is printed on paper sourced from EMAS (Environmental Management and Audit Scheme) certified manufacturers to ensure responsible printing. The views expressed in this journal are those of the contributors and advertisers and not necessarily those of the Landscape Institute, Darkhorse or the Editorial Advisory Panel. While every effort has been made to check the accuracy and validity of the information given in this publication, neither the Institute nor the Publisher accept any responsibility for the subsequent use of this information, for any errors or omissions that it may contain, or for any misunderstandings arising from it.
Landscape is the official journal of the Landscape Institute, ISSN: 1742–2914
The issue of how we use, design and manage highways and green spaces has rarely been so prominent in the public mind. Public space has been transformed, not just by an explosion of traffic cones and crash barriers, but by a remarkable repossession of many green places. In 1932, five men were jailed for their part in the mass trespass of Kinder Scout, when 500 people broke the law, which at the time decreed that those hills and open moorland could be accessed only by the landed gentry, who mainly used it for grouse shooting for short periods each year. When we look back on the Spring of 2020 perhaps we too will remember a genuine turning point in the relationship between people, place and nature. From reusing street space to investing in city farms, this edition of the journal looks at the way in which our use of space is having to change in response to COVID-19. In our special briefing, Sandeep Menon discusses the challenges for urban open space in the postpandemic global south from his base in Mumbai. Lydia Mynott considers the consequences of locking down a massive national park in British Columbia. Oliver Goodhall, argues for a reimagining of streets and public spaces and Meredith Whitten addresses the impact of COVID-19 on parks and green “in between” spaces. We visit Bath City Farm and celebrate twenty five years of bringing children, their parents and carers into a
safe, natural space and Mary Jackson looks at international comparisons to understand the best ways of creating spaces that complement the learning offered in schools. Our international showcase highlights projects in Colombia, Venezuela and Hamburg and, as everyone who can takes to their balconies, we look at the rights and wrongs of this form of city life. Our climate and biodiversity emergency briefings look at the link between COVID-19 and COP26 and our regular advice column looks at good practice in bringing nature into the city. At this time of year we would normally be marking the hand over from one president to another, with a presidents’ reception. Clearly we are unable to do so. However we are delighted to publish articles by both our current and future presidents at this astonishing moment in our communal life. Paul Lincoln Commissioning Editor
Issue 3 – 2020
Bringing nature into the city Place and health in the age of COVID-19
View of Bath City Farm. © Bath City Farm
© 2020 Landscape Institute. Landscape is published four times a year by Darkhorse Design.
Bringing nature into the city – place and health in the age of COVID-19
Sue Evans and Rachel Tennant
Connecting with nature in British Columbia
Digital reality check
James Trevers and Andy Harris
We have only 30 minutes to save the world
Creating street space out of adversity
Landscape for health and wellbeing
Not all key workers wear scrubs
Digital studio keeps pace
The challenges of urban open space in the global south
Protecting parks saves lives too
Reimagining and redefining our streets
Meredith Whitten Valuing London’s urban green space in a time of crisis
FEATURES INTERNATIONAL SHOWCASE
Bath City Farm – farming for life
The transformation of Medellín
Hamburg – home of the Green Network
Making an impact on the local community
Community development is having a huge impact in Colombia
Hamburg’s hundred year old green network is adapting to change
Manifesto for future relations of landscapes
The Catalyst Cube: thinking outside the box
Ed Wall examines the separation between society and nature
Will Sandy brings an accessible green structure to the heart of Caracas
Balcony rights and wrongs
Will Jennings advocates for balcony rights
Designing the urban microbiome
Bringing nature into the twentieth-century city The Twentieth Century Society celebrates the landscapes of the century
The search goes on for non-anthropocentric methods of designing
Hedging our bets: greening the grey in towns and cities
Can COP26 cope with climate and COVID-19?
Adam White reviews the past two years
The humble hedge may have had its day, but maybe now is the time for a revival
The meeting point of climate emergency and COVID-19 demands a response
Celebrating two action-packed years
CLIMATE EMERGENCY BRIEFING
Bringing nature into school grounds
Climate change resources – nature in the city
Jane Findlay outlines her vision for the presidency
Making the case for major improvements to our school grounds
Key resources from our regular advisor
Our new president sets out her vision for the next two years
CPD AND TRAINING
Acting on COVID-19 and the climate and biodiversity emergency
The four ‘pillars’ of the Climate and Biodiversity Action Plan
What does COVID-19 mean for the Environment and Agriculture Bills?
LI Campus The future of CPD: the digital platform from the LI is now online
Bringing nature into the city â€“ place and health in the age of COVID-19 The lockdown has brought the role of landscape and public space to the attention of public and policy makers as never before. Read the thoughts of our contributors and then join us for two live sessions on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 July as we look at the role of a landscape-led approach to making our towns and cities more liveable.
The challenges of urban open space inÂ the post-pandemic global south Cities in the global south are great examples of social engineering, they are seemingly cosmopolitan, provide for socioeconomic opportunities and also allow for blurring of the social stigmas that many rural hinterlands maintain. This leads to a steady intranational migration of people to the cities. Even megacities like Mumbai do not have the adequate housing or the infrastructure to absorb this 6
influx, often leading to the proliferation of informal modes of housing in unclaimed, disputed and often unsafe land parcels within the city â€“ the slums. As per the 2011 population census, about 65.49 million people live in slums in around 2,613 slumreported urban centres in India.1 Dharavi, the largest slum of Mumbai, has a staggering population density of about 869,565 people per square mile.2 Such hyper concentrations of
humans within the cities also magnify risks. The data on the current global pandemic of COVID-19 shows that the most affected are the urban areas where people live, work and travel in overcrowded conditions. Historically, pandemics have played decisive roles in reimagining the planning and design of cities. Be it the introduction of efficient sewerage systems after the cholera outbreaks in London, or the abandonment of
1. Infographic by Sandeep Menon.
city cores following the ‘black deaths’ caused by plague in many European cities and in their erstwhile colonies, urban life has always been shaped by these. Mumbai is emblematic of a 21st century city of rising inequality where risks and opportunities are not equally shared by all the city dwellers. A cursory survey of this highly contested city would reveal that the majority of the slums are concentrated on either former wetlands, or on precarious slopes of the vestiges of the hillocks in the city – thus rendering them as illegal encroachments as well
as being highly vulnerable to disasters. According to the WHO, nine square metres of green space per inhabitant is recommended for urban areas. Mumbai has a paltry 1.24 m2 per inhabitant.3 This is abysmally low for a city where the population densities are far higher than most global cities.4 This scarcity of usable public space often leads to temporary acts of ‘occupation’ of the street edges and other incidental open spaces by various stakeholders. Inner streets often double up as an extension to the ‘living room ‘or the ‘kitchen’ in most informal settlements. Multiple activities, like
interactions between neighbours, local festivals, vending of groceries on pushcarts, makeshift ‘tea shops’ etc. at different times of the day, results in a choreography of movements which renders a certain sense of belonging and plurality to the neighbourhood. The City Development Plans propose redevelopment of these slum clusters with the help of private corporations for providing better housing conditions. But, the ‘Slum Redevelopment Schemes’ often end up huddling the people in tightly packed high rise towers which are stacked so close to one another that provisions for
URBAN GREEN SPACE PER INHABITANT WHO
POPULATION DENSITY COMPARISON
residents per square mile
residents per square mile
dharavi, the largest slum in mumbai
residents per square mile
© Sandeep B. Menon
2. The dense development of Mumbra, a commuter town north of Mumbai, overlooking the degraded mangroves of the Vasai Creek. © Sandeep B. Menon
3. Informal settlements jostle for space with high rise residential condominium towers in the space starved city of Mumbai. © Anav Sharma, KRVIA
effective ventilation, access to sunlight or adequate recreational open spaces are completely ignored. A recent study on the redeveloped slum housing in Mumbai highlights the high correlation between occurrence of tuberculosis amongst those residing in the lower floors of these towers, due to its insensitive planning and design aspects owing to the relaxed norms for such
developments.5 The notions of ‘social distancing’ may seem a stretch of the imagination in such crowded conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic indeed exposed the unpreparedness and the systemic capacity gaps in global cities. However it also forces us to look for ways to redefine urban liveability, especially for the subalterns in hyper-dense urban agglomerations.
While most allied global discourses have been centred on concerns regarding economic downturns, loss of livelihoods and lack of an effective solution for eradicating the disease, it is imperative to note that the lack of access to urban open space is also a matter of grave concern; one that has been constantly and conveniently over looked. 2020 also marks the beginning of the decade of action for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Viewing the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to re-evaluate the methods and approaches to deal with the social production of human habitats as being in conjunction with the natural processes could prove vital for ensuring healthy and resilient cities. Sandeep B. Menon is a practising landscape architect and a core faculty member at KRVIA Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies, Mumbai. His academic interests range from ecological urbanism, landscape ecology, sustainable urban water management, ecological corridors and wetland systems. He can be contacted at sandeep. email@example.com
1 http://censusindia. gov.in/2011Documents/Slum-2609-13.pdf referred on 16-04-2020 2 https://urban-hub. com/cities/mumbaimaharashtra-india/ referred on 16-04-2020 3 SCE Group (2014), Preparatory Studies Report, Mumbai, MCGM 4 Mumbai City’s average population density is approximately 73,000 per square mile, approximately five times that of the Greater London area which is approximately 14,550 residents per square mile. https:// worldpopulationreview. com/world-cities/ mumbai-population/ referred on 17-04-2020 5 Peehu Pardeshi, Balaram Jadhav, Ravikant Singh, Namrata Kapoor, Ronita Bardhan, Arnab Jana, Siddarth David & Nobhojit Roy (2020): Association between architectural parameters and burden of tuberculosis in three resettlement colonies of M-East Ward, Mumbai, India, Cities & Health, DOI: 10.1080/23748834. 2020.1731919 accessed from http:// doctorsforyou.org/files/ research-publication/ TB-DFY-2020.pdf on 18.04.2020.
1. Fishing and paddleboarding in a city of Coquitlam Park. © Lydia Mynott
2. Cougar signage promoting physical distancing. © Lydia Mynott
Connecting with nature in British Columbia Life in British Columbia (BC) Canada changed on March 16th when physical distancing measures were implemented to help address the COVID-19 pandemic. Gatherings were banned and the impact on parks, open spaces and the wilderness in the province started. Over the next few days, outdoor recreation opportunities began to change across the Lower Mainland: the area around Vancouver BC. Different cities implemented their own restrictions. Parks largely remained open but play areas closed, benches were cordoned off and skate parks shut. Litter was dropped next to bins as people became fearful about opening the heavy bearproof lids. The response was patchy and confusing; while parks remained open, restrictions on the public use of school grounds meant that these vital open spaces were no longer accessible. In late March, national avalanche forecasting ceased, a service critical to safe mountain recreation. This meant that people could no longer venture out into the wilderness and backcountry areas to hike, ski or snowshoe. While physically distancing in BC’s vast wilderness was not the issue, and many of these areas are close to population, the inherent dangers of recreating in the mountains was an unacceptable risk to both search and rescue teams and healthcare systems.
On April 8th, BC provincial parks closed their entire system, the desire of the public to get outdoors meant that many parks have already experienced peak season levels of use that have resulted in overwhelmed parking areas and trails. Due to the large land base of BC parks and low staffing levels and budgets, it was no longer safe to keep these areas open. However, people are resilient and creative, slowly but surely it became evident that parks and open spaces would be what could get people through these challenging times. The physical and mental health benefits of connecting with nature outdoors was much needed. In urban areas, parks systems began to adapt: many parks with narrow walking paths now have one-way systems providing better opportunities for physical distancing. Parks agencies have deployed staff to monitor public behaviour and educate people on physical distancing. Parks with internal road systems have closed them to vehicles; this has the shared benefit of keeping
people close to their homes and also providing much needed extra capacity. Creative signage celebrating nature and encouraging physical distancing started to appear. These measures have been effective, as the majority of city and regional parks remain open, and parks visits have increased. People are becoming more ingenious in how they choose to be physically distinct; an uptick has occurred in people using paddleboards on urban lakes. As BC, Canada, and the rest of the world further adapt to the changing use patterns and management of parks and open spaces, we should recognize and celebrate the vital role that these spaces have played in our adaptation and recovery. Lydia Mynott is a park planner with Metro Vancouver Regional Parks. She is a CMLI and a BC Registered Landscape Architect. Her work focuses on balancing the protection of natural areas and creating innovative opportunities for public access and enjoyment of nature. 9
Landscape architecture studio keeps pace during COVID-19 COVID-19 has caused remotedesign education to evolve rapidly, whether students and instructors are ready or not. The education paradigm specific to the landscape architecture design studio must respond; the practices and theories of studio-based learning and the challenges teaching techno-centric students must be revisited. A new remote teaching methodology – the Digital Review Session – was applied within a fourth year studio course, where students reported distinctly positive responses for multiple learning outcomes. Studio-based learning (SBL) is a challenging structure to evaluate design efficacy of problem-based learning. SBL includes ‘learning by doing’ and is primarily student-led (student work + instructor response) and embodies constructive, collaborative principles to co-develop ideas and solutions. ‘Drawing’ and the process of design is a competency tool, so the effective incorporation of critical feedback and insight is required. For the past three semesters, I have been using a recorded, synchronous audio-visual digital tablet whiteboard to conduct desk critiques. This Digital Review Session (DRS) approach aids with active learning, memory retention, critical reflection and project development, and was conducted at the desk with the student present; however as the COVID-19 teaching protocols were enacted, these sessions became fully remote. The strength of this DRS is the synchronicity – similar to a movie – where drawing image, screen markup, and audio commentary work together. This, to a high degree, imitates an actual studio desk critique with the added benefit of later being paused, zoomed in, and replayed to clarify ideas and comments at any remote location at any time. The digital desk10
crit or DRS was recorded utilizing a tablet and ‘digital whiteboard’ or the ‘digital trace paper’ application ShowMe (www.showme.com). Once completed, the DRS was emailed to the student. The app allows you to ‘record voice-over whiteboard tutorials’ and is available for iPad, Android and
Chromebook. The hardware used was an iPad Pro with Pencil. The ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard is free, though a monthly fee enables storage of recorded sessions. To be clear, the objective was not to turn a digital tablet into a digital drawing tool; hundreds of programs exist for that. This specific
1. The fully recorded and emailed version of the ShowMe DRS has basic playback functions including full screen, volume, and play/pause. Source: Author
2. Still images from a DRS illustrating the iteractive design process (Top L to Bottom R). Source: Author
3. This one was last year March 2019) when a student was standing at their desk there while I went into the session. 4. This one is after COVID (March 2020) – so no student was standing next to me in desk crit – this was a fully remote session.
application was for the review and feedback portion within the design development and problem-solving process of the students’ drawings. Can the digital studio environment engage students? Paper-based design critiques often lack iterative context when reviewed later. The DRS via
1. RT Painters – Yodo River walkway, Osaka, Japan. © RMT Images
1 The Scottish Landscape Alliance is a grouping of over 60 organisations with a common interest in raising awareness of the importance of Scotland’s landscapes to climate resilience and biodiversity, economic performance and public health and wellbeing.
synchronous video, audio, images and text mimics, to the best degree possible, the face-to-face interaction in design studio critique. The DRS captures vocal expressions of emotion and intonation for emphasis of critical design components and those ‘pen-topaper’ clarification moments or other
subtle gestures difficult to match in graphics-based critiques (i.e. standard digital markups). Though the DRS is one-way, a student could send similar media or expand it to include a video-shared desktop. Digital pedagogical tools will increase within studio learning, and its interactive design feedback potential requires further application and exploration of effective student and distance learning utilization.
Dr. Richard LeBrasseur is Director of the Green Infrastructure Performance Lab at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia
Sue Evans and Rachel Tennant
Landscape for health and wellbeing The Scottish Landscape Alliance1 has been exploring the role of landscape in public health. The research now exists to support what most landscape practitioners already know to be self-evident – that landscape and nature are good for us individually (both physically and mentally) and collectively (helping with community capacity and cohesion). The research also reveals that place quality is key; we will not benefit from our ‘natural health system’ if it is poorly managed and, consequently, underused or misused. The global pandemic of COVID-19 has highlighted the basic human need to be able to access the outdoors. As we emerge from the impact of this terrible virus and effort is focused on the extraordinary steps that will be required to revitalise our country, we should think afresh about the role of landscape as part of the critical infrastructure and solutions needed for our recovery. It is timely that Scotland’s Planning Policy and National Planning Framework are under review, as this provides an opportunity to think about the shape of our future
cities and towns – their density and connectedness, the distribution and scale of greenspace, and the types of activities that take place in them. We need to think about who uses our public spaces and how; COVID-19 has exposed the inequality in access
to greenspace. Poor landscape and deprivation often occur together, with those in greatest need least able to access quality outdoor spaces. The data suggests that the disadvantaged and vulnerable have been particularly impacted and, for families in a 11
home with no immediate outdoor access, forced containment has been particularly difficult. For some health outcomes, particularly mental health, research shows that managed greenspaces can help mitigate the health impacts of socioeconomic inequality. This is also likely for all-cause and circulatory disease mortality. The benefits of greenspace are greater for those worse off in society and landscapebased solutions providing access to greenspace can help narrow the gap in health outcomes caused by deprivation. If we are to address health inequalities brought about by years of austerity and deliver wider health and social outcomes, we need to invest in our everyday landscape, our urban parks and greenspaces. This requires greater resources being put into land allocation, design, delivery and management of landscape, together with the community infrastructure needed to encourage use and engagement. By recognising the importance of landscape to health and by investing in place, using traditional and innovative funding models, we can do much to improve Scotland’s health and wellbeing. This is why the SLA is advocating for the definition of quality standards and indicators for landscape for health, and for the delivery and management of our landscape (including parks, greenspace and green infrastructure) to become a statutory duty for local authorities.
Sue Evans is Vice Chair of Architecture + Design Scotland, a member of the LI’s Policy and Communications Committee and for the Scottish Landscape Alliance, and is Vice Chair of the Landscape for Health and Wellbeing Working Group.
Rachel Tennant is Chair of Landscape Institute Scotland, Co-Chair of Scotland’s Landscape Alliance Executive Committee and a member of the Health and Wellbeing Working Group.
2. RT Park – Yodogawa River Park, Osaka, Japan. © RMT Images
3. SE Park – Battery Park, New York, USA. © Sue Evans
4. SE Play – Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, USA. © Sue Evans
1, 2. Virtual landscapes. © Place Jam® 2020
Reality check For the majority, our recent lives have been consumed by the fear of COVID-19, keeping us behind closed doors. Daily exercise, essential shopping trips, medical need and caring for a vulnerable person are almost our only permissible excuses for leaving the confines of our houses. Those lucky enough to have outdoor spaces tend to their garden, or watch their neighbour desecrate the border hedge out of boredom. With social distancing restricting our ability to access the natural environment (and clip our neighbour round the ear), most notably in urbanised areas, what role do virtual spaces have now and in future? There is a wonderful moment in the TV series Star Trek – Picard, where, even with the vast expanse of space to look upon, the lead character Jean-Luc Picard chooses to reflect and recuperate in the holo-suite, which depicts his former vineyard retreat. The concept of being spatially confined, just as Jean-Luc felt in space, is not dissimilar to our current predicament. Places familiar to us still exist, in some state at least, but only as accurately as we can recall them (or via a dated Google Street View if you are lucky). It is actually telling of many people’s reality even beyond this pandemic. My Gran just turned 90. She is confined to a care home in Brisbane. I was impressed with the provision of open space around the facility when I visited, but I know it won’t be familiar to her. For 25 years she resided at a large family property on Keona Road, Mcdowall, which was demolished in 2004. I had spent much time in the extensive garden there and the experience resonated with me over the years. Recently, I began pulling together family photos of the property and recollecting my own experiences to reference in a digital 3D model of the property, which is intended to be experienced in VR. Once complete, I hope this will provide some comfort
to family members, including my Gran. I think the model could capture a sense of place and time, and demonstrate meaning and value from the shared memory of a landscape. Would I have undertaken the project if it weren’t for the lockdown? Perhaps not. This pandemic has highlighted some human truths, that we are drawn to nature just as we are to one another. We want to interact, even if it is via a screen. It is no coincidence there has been a scramble for VR headsets, with most lines now sold out. This is the conduit to many people’s exposure to the landscape, real world or abstract. Suddenly, latency; field of view; degrees of movement and the screen door effect become more relevant in our quest for immersion.
Artificial landscapes or ‘surroscapes’ (surrogate landscapes) are not a substitute for real world landscapes, but they have purpose in raising our expectations of them, reminding us of their virtues, and empowering us to design and play test them through extended reality. Human behaviour is echoed in the virtual world, as is our affinity for the sublime. Mark Jackson is a landscape architect, digital placemaker, and founder of Place Jam®. In addition to his work in the field, he is a public speaker, published author, associate lecturer at MMU, and Digital Realities lead within the LI Digital Practice Group.
Not all key workers wear scrubs It’s the simple things that matter most, we say. A stroll in the woods. The satisfaction of hanging a perfectly horizontal shelf. Nailing the proportion of milk to tea in a morning brew. Rustling up an especially good curry. We have often declared that the trappings of technology, consumerism and high carbon society are frivolous noise — that true contentment can be found simply in the pages of a good book read in the shade of a leafy tree. For a nourishing life, we insisted, simplicity was the best option. But suddenly simplicity has become the only option. COVID-19 has put an end to almost all complex cultural life. Multi-screen megaplex cinemas, grand theatres, humble lidos, gyms, spas, malls, clubs and pubs stand empty as our many pious remarks about the virtues of simplicity are put to the ultimate test. Is the wholesome romance of an amble in the park somewhat subdued when it is part of a government-mandated exercise regime? Is growing your own tomatoes less satisfying when it is done to stave off the boredom of being furloughed throughout a national lockdown? There is nothing romantic about COVID-19. When the hour came, many of our leaders were criminally slow to react and must, in time, be held to account, but amid the turmoil, there are moments and social changes to note and celebrate. People are reacting to the pandemic in different ways, but a recurring theme I’ve observed is the simple pleasure of stumbling upon unexplored landscapes close to home. For a nation whose slow and overpriced rail network can make it feel easier to visit another country than another county, the lockdown has helped many to discover lush green spaces, weird public art, remarkable views and dynamic architecture they never knew were on their doorstep. When lockdown is lifted and we bust back into public life, once again packing football stands 14
1. The community garden at Ernö Goldfinger’s Glenkerry House, a brutalist housing co-operative in Poplar where the writer is currently locked down. © Phin Harper
and mosh pits, I suspect we will do so with a heightened appreciation of the precious parks and pocket public spaces which have been a lifeline, especially to those without the luxury of gardens or balconies. For three decades, the charity I work for, Open House, has thrown wide the doors of thousands of spaces, giving free access to London’s best architecture and landscapes to 2.8 million people since it was founded. We have done so because we believe that cities only truly flourish when they are open, not to a privileged few, but to all. Now, at a time of lockdowns and closures, there has never been a greater need for that mission. Throughout this pandemic, finding ways for meaningful openness to continue to thrive and grow in a city that is physically closed is a critical part of our agenda. I believe that all landscapes from the simplest flower bed to the grandest civic park, and the people who make and maintain them, are crucial allies in that fight and will be a huge part of what we
will celebrate in the next Open House festival. Not all key workers wear scrubs — some push wheelbarrows! Open House has been hit hard by COVID-19 which has stopped almost all our income. In the past we’ve rarely asked directly for support and have worked hard to keep the Open House festival free for all, but in this challenging time we need your help. We’re asking everyone who loves Open House and can afford it to make a small monthly donation, to support us through the pandemic by becoming an Open House Friend. We’re making some great rewards to say thank you to everyone who signs up too! Thank you. www.openhouselondon.org.uk/appeal Phineas Harper is an architecture critic and curator. He is director of Open City, the charity behind the Open House festival, and was chief curator of the 2019 Oslo Architecture Biennale.
1. The Edible Bus Stop’s approach to streetscape. © Will Sandy
1 https://www.gigl.org. uk/keyfigures/ 2 https://lcrig.org.uk/ news/traffic-regulationorders-covid19guidance
Creating street space out of adversity In the context of austerity, our public open spaces have come under increasing stresses – diminishing maintenance budgets have led to asset transfers and pressure to generate income. But now, in the context of COVID-19, we see a momentary – seemingly unanimous – shift towards valuing public sector strength in all types of critical infrastructure. Access to open space is included alongside the same fundamental needs as our health service and financial security through to calls for implementing a Universal Basic Income. Countries around the world are adjusting to safeguarding these fundamental needs in unprecedented times. Societies are reassessing their core values, and cities around the world are reorganising public spaces to tackle the COVID-19 crisis. What of this will stick with us in a postpandemic world? Clearly right now, the need for and value of our open spaces of all types is more acute. More than 60% of London is ‘open land’, yet only 6% is parks and public gardens1. How can we maximise the wellbeing and health benefits of the other 54% – the roads, sports facilities and left-over space? It’s not just access
3 https://new. brighton-hove.gov.uk/ news/2020/madeiradrive-first-road-beallocated-walkers-andcyclists 4 https://www. oaklandca.gov/ news/2020/city-ofoakland-announcesoakland-slow-streetsprogram-startingsaturday-to-enablesafer-walking-cycling 5 https://www. nytimes.com/2011/ 04/18/business/ global/18iht-rbogbicycle-18.html 6 http://cep.lse.ac.uk/ pubs/download/cp455. pdf
to green space and parks that is vital for public health. Our streets provide the real opportunity for locking-in permanent change. On 16th April 2020, the Department for Transport has loosened its rules2 to allow councils to easily make roads car-free, widen footways, or create temporary cycle lanes. The lengthy processes of Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) has been temporarily circumvented to allow quick implementation. Brighton3 has acted fast. It joins Berlin, Bogotá, Budapest, Boston and others in enacting changes. The Kreuzberg district of Berlin has trialled temporary ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes. The Colombian capital of Bogotá is creating 76km of temporary cycle lanes, with 22km of these new lanes converted from road space overnight on 17th March. In New Zealand the Transport Minister has invited cities to apply for 90% funding to widen footways and create temporary cycle infrastructure that can be put in place within hours and days. Even in car-dominated cities in the US, perhaps the car is no longer king. Starting Saturday April 11, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and the Oakland Department of Transportation4 have closed approximately 10% of the
city’s roads to vehicles and designated 120km of neighbourhood streets to cycling and walking. We have seen cities pivot at key points of crisis before. After the Tokyo 2011 earthquake hit the metropolitan area, train and subways stopped out of fear of aftershocks. Commuters switched to cycling instead5. Closer to home, researchers at the London School of Economics found that the February 2014 London Underground staff strikes forced many commuters to experiment and find alternative routes. Behaviours can change. One in 20 stuck with their new routes after the strike was over6. I would like changes to streets to become permanent. They should: – Be important public spaces where people want to spend time – Enable extra journeys on foot and by bike – Become places where we feel empowered to act to reallocate space for pedestrians, for culture, play, wellbeing and everyday activity – Be egalitarian places where all people can come together – Feature everyday infrastructure that can be readily closed, changed and adapted to suit neighbourhood needs – Become common places that are universally adapted to respond to the climate emergency Many are looking for silver linings in this terrible crisis. If we can use our new-found values to further long-term health and wellbeing, supported by the everyday infrastructure of our cities, that could certainly be one. Oliver Goodhall is a co-founding Partner of We Made That, an architecture and urbanism practice based in London. The practice includes architects, urban designers, planners and urban researchers. They only work for public clients and are guided by a strong civic ethos. 15
1. Pearl Street Triangle before and after image.
James Trevers and Andy Harris
© Totem Group
Reclaiming, reimagining and redefining our streets The world is longing for escape. Urban migrants fleeing to scenic areas have been well documented while the world has almost sold out of Nintendo Switches, a means of accessing a plethora of universes. Whether in the categories of landscape or digital escapism, the traditional concept of the word as self-denial can be countered by the hugely positive impact it can have as a means of distraction or losing oneself. During the lockdown, how many people have realised the lifesustaining properties of their local parks and the escape they offer, as the mental and physical benefits of landscapes provide the space for both our brains and feet to wander? This realisation has seen a visible impact on our urban landscapes. Our 2 metre bubbles are at a premium as a fixed area of parks are met with increasing numbers. Whilst this has overwhelmed our cities’ parks, the inverse is occurring for roadways, with the reduction in permissible travel seeing streets devoid of movement. This relationship, of reduced street use and increased park demand, could see the temporary conversion of certain street spaces into short-term parklets as a response to the challenges of COVID-19. By reclaiming, reimaging and redefining streets, the fabric of our cities can become greener, safer and more democratic, whilst also reducing the risk to public health caused by the density experienced in parks. The methodology would see the correlation of neighbourhoods without proximate greenspace and those streets able to transition out of our cities’ transportation networks. Through this redesignation of usable streets, a lifeline can be provided for those isolated without access to greenspace. The hardest hit areas are, generally, densely populated urban neighbourhoods with little usable 16
greenspace, exactly the locations where those streets with potential for meanwhile park use are most abundant. Precedent has been set for this kind of activity. The work of Janette SadikKhan, as Commissioner of NewYork City’s Transportation Department, saw ‘DIY Parklets’ constructed over the course of weekends. Dumbo’s Pearl Street Triangle went from car parking to plaza through simple and cheap interventions. By creating a design guide for street conversion, with rules to preclude close contact, reduce materials with contamination risk and encourage design with escapism in mind, this small action could transform the lockdown for millions. The nature of the street spaces targetted would see neighbourhood identities feed into their design, cultivating the diversification and user input required to make spaces sustainable. This could also provide some salvation to an industry to which ours is intimately tied, but often taken for granted. The removal of sales outlets for nurseries is seeing millions
of pounds worth of plants wasted, with a third of producers at risk of collapse. Through a coordinated effort of providing low-maintenance planting for these spaces, a huge amount of plants, jobs and financial losses could be prevented. As landscape architects, a degree of optimism can help us envisage streets with a reduced number of cars. Aside from the current possibilities of these proposals, they may also provide a designer’s roadmap for the future scenario of reduced car use. For now, the impact of these proposals could have a beneficial effect on people’s physical and mental wellbeing, offering them a real and positive escape in landscape.
James Trevers CMLI, a former LI Student Dissertation prize winner, is a landscape architect at John McAslan + Partners, where he works alongside studio director Andy Harris CMLI.
Bringing nature into the city. Albert Road, Middlesbrough â€“ Where nature and natural stone paving combine.
Materials used: Magma, Royal White, Kobra and Crystal Black granite paving. Client: Middlesbrough Council Landscape Architects: Middlesbrough Council Contractor: Cleveland Land Services Ltd Paving Materials Supplier: Hardscape
For further information on our hard-landscaping products please visit: www.hardscape.co.uk or telephone: 01204 565 500.
We have only 30 minutes to save the world A bit dramatic? It’s meant to be. Like some latter-day fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, COVID-19 rode into view behind climate emergency, the fourth Industrial Revolution and Brexit and it is this one that could change the way we think about the world around us in the most fundamental way. Lockdown has made our world shrink, with everything you might need to survive and to thrive within 30 minutes of your doorstep, on foot or by bike. It has made us find out more about our neighbours and our neighbourhoods, the healing power of nature and the spaces we share. Our powers of observation have become more acute, which makes our environment feel richer and more meaningful. We have often wondered if it will ever be this quiet again. We need to use what we have learned. We must not forget what we have realised we love and value, nor the emotions and the feelings we have shared. This new world has revealed the shocking inequality all around us. Those of us lucky enough to own private gardens experienced lockdown differently to the family living on the 15th floor with no private space: the same people who were demonised
in the press for using crowded public parks in the middle of our crowded cities. It has become clear that space is not equally shared. So, tipping it on its head, this is the chance to plan our world around us in a different way. Imagine a placemaking plan focused on delivering most of the things we need within 30 minutes of our doorstep, both for places that only exist in the future and for existing places we retrofit. Abandon the outdated plans for a bypass, give us all superfast broadband instead. We need more trees, more cycleways, less tarmac, a pocket park instead of a car park, locally grown food instead of berries from South America – the list will be long. Let’s map that 30-minute circle, marking the things that you came to realise matter most and the things that don’t. Plot the things that are missing and imagine, if they were there, where they might be. What’s outside the circle that you want inside? And what could you live without? Is this the moment to rethink densities? Crowding people into undersized apartments in tall residential buildings around transport hubs might make sense if you think of people as a commodity in a flow
diagram, but we know now how it comes at the expense of their health and their sanity. This would never happen in a 30-minute place. People need better housing space standards and access to green space. Is there any good reason why nurses or teachers or cleaners should not be able to afford to live within 30 minutes of their workplace? Fundamentally, this is about making an equitable and resilient place, built around the health and wellbeing of people and the health of the planet. We need to get together and draw this plan now. There’s not a moment to lose. Bernie Foulkes is a master planner, urban designer and landscape architect at LDA Design.
Protecting parks saves lives too You know we are living in extraordinary times when banana cake recipes are trending, the new voice of reason on Twitter is Piers Morgan and a housing minister is talking about how important parks are. The history of parks in Britain has always exposed an interesting and fraught relationship between the 18
state and the public. Whether they were transformed from hunting parks, created by philanthropist and councils, by subscription to keep the riff raff out, only open to the poor for free for two days a week (Regent’s Park), they all helped to keep civil order by giving the underprivileged (but not the ‘verminous’) a chance to cough up the dirt from factories and the smog from
our cities. Many were created due to the determined petitioning by the public who demanded them as their right, reflecting how social justice and our parks have always been intertwined. But we have rarely valued them at a government level (certainly not since WWII) nor have ever defined them as a statutory service, which has always left them exposed and a local authority
1. The 30 Minute Place is vibrant, well connected and mixed use. © Bernie Foulkes
2 2. Finsbury Park. © Meredith Whitten
headache rather than a national benefit. In the 1980s compulsory competitive tendering was the parks sector virus, combined with the Thatcherite anti-society vision which seemed to despise them as much as anyone who travelled on public transport or miners. Certainly, when CABE Space was formed – yes by government – it focused on how best to support those who wanted to reverse their decline and address the demoralisation of the sector. The fact that CABE Space had to produce myriad reports about the value and benefits of parks from physical and mental health to social inclusion, shows just how far they had slipped from the consciousness of those making the decisions about where monies were best spent. Certainly, we were even considered the poor relation at CABE, something the team fought hard to change. Parks and their keepers are amazingly resilient, bearing the brunt of many cuts and abuse before the effects begin to show. But it took coronavirus to make parks a national issue – their access debated again – their benefits and values much more obvious when it is suggested they may be abruptly taken away through closure, rather than fading away through lack of funding. It is essential that the park sector use this zeitgeist and the public’s renewed ‘petitioning’ to protect their future. In the near future we know that
as restrictions are lifted the last places many go us will be heading for (and for the old and vulnerable perhaps never again) will be confined places like cinemas, theatres and stadia. We may not be staying metres apart, but many will want or need to keep their distance and parks will be one of the places where that should be possible. How do we make this work, though? Especially given some of the issues people have been complaining about during lock down, particularly joggers and cyclists whose increased exertion can expose others who cross their path. So while public spaces and parks are for all – maybe not all at once or in the same areas. Time to think the unthinkable and to separate pedestrians (which the vulnerable and the old are more likely to be). Feels strange to be advocating against shared space, but for a while sharing may not be best. Otherwise certain groups will be disenfranchised from the places that will do them the most good. Children, too, must be given space to roam again and reclaim some freedom and childhood without scolding or reproach from other users. Just as we need a network of green spaces with different functions to support neighbourhoods, play spaces, adventure playgrounds, quiet spaces, recreational and sports spaces – now is time to look at how these networks can support our changing user groups. To give all the opportunity to enjoy doing what they
prefer to do and yet acknowledge that these needs will be different for a while. Parks have always brought people together, now we need them to help us keep some apart and safe too. It could be as simple as different pathways and routes or times for different users, but it needs some sensitivity and public support. Increased thought for others has been one of the positive outcomes of COVID-19, but this needs to continue. We need to be creative to ensure that parks can still be for all without the use of barrier tape on seats and jobsworth heavy handedness. Some clear and simple ideas that can be adopted until the winter for a start, or until testing and/or a vaccine has had an impact and has reduced anxiety and risk. Car-free days and reclaiming car lanes for cyclists and joggers would be wonderful to see and give these groups and others more freedom too. Opening private school grounds and other private green spaces to the public, even temporarily, would help: perhaps a 21st century version of the Victorian Metropolitan Public Gardens Association which created many public spaces from private cemeteries and gardens. I’m happy to jump over a few walls to look for spaces like they (often women) did. Now parks are in the spotlight it is the time they must be recognised as part of our health service and become statutory – as the sector has advocated for decades. At the best of times we expect great spaces, but it is at the worst of times that we need them to be great. Protecting parks saves lives too. Our government mustn’t be allowed to forget this. Sarah Gaventa is director of the Illuminated River Foundation which is delivering the longest public art project in the world, which will light up the bridges of central London. She is a public space and public art expert and curator, and was previously the government’s advisor on public space as Director of CABE Space at the Commission for Architecture and Built Environment. Sarah is also an Honorary Fellow of both the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Landscape Institute and a Freeman of the City of London. 19
1. Valentine’s Park.
Valuing London’s urban green space in a time of crisis – and in everyday life As we self-isolate, social distance and work and study from home, we’ve become acutely aware of the value of spending time outdoors. With most parks and green spaces open – for now – the COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting just how precious and vital public green spaces are. This is particularly the case in urban areas, where population and development density already limit the availability of nature for residents. Creation of London’s first public green space – Victoria Park, which opened in 1845 – centred around public health. The spread of disease among the 400,000 residents in the crowded East End was an urgent concern at the time. Access to nature was considered one of the main solutions (another was affordable housing). The Victorian “parks for
the people” concept set in motion an expectation of access to green space that remains deeply entrenched in the capital and other urban areas today. The connection between Londoners and their green spaces has been on full display recently, with residents flocking to the capital’s public green spaces, despite urgent requests to stay at home and keep a safe distance from others. In many ways, Londoners are acting on instinct: on a typical sunny spring day, spending the afternoon in one of London’s more than 3,000 green spaces would be normal behaviour. Even before Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered pubs, restaurants and other meeting places to close, Londoners crowded their green spaces. And, in these democratic spaces, the norm is not social distancing. The fact that parks and green
spaces remain one of the last places open during the pandemic signals how essential these spaces are. At the forefront of discussions and debates in the recent weeks is an effort to balance public safety with access to the health and wellbeing benefits green spaces provide. However, green spaces contribute so much more to urban life. Among other things, they provide cleaner air, urban cooling and vital habitat. They help us get to know our neighbours and feel a little less isolated. They also increase tourism, enhance productivity, provide employment opportunities and reduce energy consumption. You’d be hard-pressed to find another urban asset that contributes such a range of benefits with such limited investment. Yet, our current situation also reveals limitations in how green space is planned, managed and used – and
2. Clissold Park. 3. Sir John McDougall Gardens. All pictures © Meredith Whitten
how it is valued. With no statutory mandate to provide parks and green spaces, these spaces are deemed a discretionary service or an amenity – something that’s nice to have, but not essential. Despite austerity-ravaged green space budgets, local authorities – the primary providers of public green spaces – continue to manage and maintain these spaces. Without adequate resources, however, they struggle to do so effectively and safely, as we have witnessed in recent days. Some green space users are ignoring social distancing requirements; cutting locks and climbing over fences to use facilities such as playgrounds and outdoor gyms that councils have temporarily closed; using pitches for team sports and disregarding park guidance. This makes these spaces – and us – less safe. As a result, some councils have closed their green spaces. For example, Hammersmith and Fulham closed all of the borough’s parks, although they’ve since reopened on a trial basis. Lambeth closed Brockwell Park after 3,000 visitors showed up. Islington, England’s densest borough, has closed some of its smallest spaces. Tower Hamlets had to close Victoria Park, although the borough’s other green spaces remain open for now. Almost all councils have closed cafés, playgrounds, toilets and sports facilities in their parks. Despite London being considered a green city – the world’s first National Park City – Londoners do not have equal access to green space. Parts of the city are deficient in access to nature and the myriad benefits it provides. This inequity is shameful in normal times, but has been heightened during the COVID-19 crisis, when residents are unable to travel around the city. Guidance about going outside for exercise has varying meaning when many residents do not live near accessible green space. Green space often is treated as an afterthought in planning, something to negotiate as part of development. The green space delivered frequently ends up being much less than proposed. In part, this stems from an inability to capture the true value that urban nature delivers. Yet, as the
past few weeks have highlighted, London’s green spaces are more than just passive spaces for amenity and leisure. They are as much a part of the urban infrastructure as roads, utilities, broadband and more. These spaces keep us healthier and happier. For these reasons, urban green spaces should feature prominently in responses to the pandemic, as they should in addressing other crises, such as climate change. But, their critical role in urban systems should be recognised even when we are not in the middle of a crisis. Providing green space should reflect its vital status by being designated a statutory service. We must invest in our green infrastructure as we do other types of grey infrastructure. Delivering access to nature must be required in all development. A strategic policy that requires equitable provision of urban green spaces for all Londoners is imperative.
Importantly, what is considered green space must move beyond the traditional parks concept and be treated as urban nature. The benefits derived from it come from integrating a range of green assets – pocket parks, street trees, green roofs and green walls, green corridors, highway verges – into a network of green infrastructure across the city. It is time to formalise what we tacitly acknowledge about the value of green space: these spaces are essential not just for quality of life, but for life itself. A version of this article appeared on the LSE London blog.
Dr Meredith Whitten is an ESRC postdoctoral fellow in the LSE’s Department of Geography and Environment. Her research focuses on the intricate relationship between nature and cities and the role that urban greening plays in addressing the impacts of urbanisation. 21
F E AT U R E By Jill White
Bath City Farm – farming for life Bath City Farm has been bringing nature into this historic city for 25 years. Its impact on the immediate community as well as the city is significant.
arming appeals to us, from the daydreams of city dwellers to the popularity of a range of television programmes following people taking up new lives farming, or making a living in wild areas. No surprise to find, then, that city farms are drawing in thousands of visitors to enjoy animals and food growing first hand. But what has led to this popularity and how are such farms benefitting communities across the UK and 22
Europe? What do they do that is so appealing and how can we as landscape architects use this to inform our work? City or urban farms have come a long way since they first emerged in the early 1970s, from the community garden movement. The latter had taken over often derelict and abandoned sites a while after WW2 and used them to put people back in touch with nature and provide open space for meeting places and learning
to garden. City farms combined this successful model with the introduction of farm animals and teaching how to care for them. The first UK city farm was in Kentish Town in 1972 and there are now around 65 in the UK1. They built on projects successfully pioneered in the Netherlands (known there as “children’s farms”) which currently attract millions of visitors. The UK city farms and community gardens joined to form their own Federation in 1980, to enable them
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1, 2. All views of the Farm. © Bath City Farm
I wasn’t feeling good today but I could just come here and feel better.
to share experiences and develop together and this has now merged with Care Farms UK to form Social Farms and Gardens (SFG) 2. There is also a wider, European Federation of City Farms, of which SFG is a part, thus it is a well-established model of providing nature in the city. Our own city farms in the UK also achieve high numbers of visitors and offer a massive range of experiences, including petting animals and being involved in their care, learning about farming and gardening, developing skills and abilities, being in contact with living food (plants and animals) and also receiving emotional support and therapy. Along the way, those same visitors can’t help but learn about sustainability and be put into touch with other people in their communities of different ages and social backgrounds. This is the power of landscape to make social change and provides a strong demonstration of why we as a profession should, wherever possible, incorporate opportunities in urban schemes for
communities to engage directly with landscape, at every scale. I visited Bath City Farm (BCF) which is now in its 25th year and covers 37 acres, employing 16 staff and hosting dozens of regular volunteers. In fact, the farm was set up and run by volunteers in 1990 and has now grown to include paid staff, a board of Trustees, around 100 animals and last year welcomed over 24,000 visitors. It also offers people access to emotional and physical wellbeing projects and supports over 700 people a year make a difference in their lives. Social deprivation is not always visible or obvious, if you think of Bath, it is the Georgian terraces, UNESCO status and Roman baths that spring to mind. Deborah, a volunteer Farm Trustee, pointed out to me that Bath City Farm is in the UNESCO Protected Site area, yet sits within a neighbourhood which is amongst the 20% of most deprived areas of England (BCF Impact Report, 2019) 3. This same area has the highest proportion of children living in poverty in the County, according to
the project. Issues in this community can include mental health problems, physical ill health and lack of access to high quality open space. Deborah also explained that local people cannot necessarily afford to travel and visit the countryside and the Farm was a way to give them direct and free access to nature in the city. Bath City Farm provides a land scape which supports and enhances its community. One of their major achievements is helping families in adversity. 38% of children in the neighbourhood are classed as living in poverty3 and the Farm is a free resource for families to visit. One visiting mum with a young girl told me “Sometimes you just really need to get outside and I can come here and have a cup of tea and she can see all the animals and nature. I wasn’t feeling good today but I could just come here and feel better”. The Farm works in close partnership with a local referral organisation, Southside Family Project and runs joint sessions in the school holidays and at weekends. These are
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fun activities involving outdoor ventures such as den building, kite making, and “be a farmer for a day”. They have also run “grow your own pizza” sessions and the focus on healthy eating is important in a neighbourhood where 23% of 10-11 year olds are classed as obese3. Local schools also use the Farm, taking advantage of the site’s “forest school” and hands-on facilities to meet parts of the curriculum dealing with the natural world and where food comes from. The edible produce is grown in extensive vegetable areas and polytunnels and is used in the onsite café. The meat from animals raised at the farm for slaughter is sold direct from the site refrigerator. There are always social events taking place to encourage community gathering and cohesion. City farms provide a rare opportunity for people from a massive range of social and ethnic backgrounds to come together for leisure and fun. Research in the Netherlands (Piessens, 2013) 4 found that their “children’s farms” are more valued and
appreciated by migrant and refugee communities than the national average. Farms can thus provide an important opportunity for interethnic interactions. Other participants in Bath City Farm’s activities include young people not in education or employment (NEETS) on the fringes of society, or perhaps those with convictions. BCF’s recent “Get Green “project worked with 16-25 year olds, to reduce social isolation and improve skills through conservation, horticultural and animal care work. The Farm’s volunteers are carefully and enthusiastically overseen by project workers, including employee Sarah, who has experienced firsthand the personal improvement to mental health brought about by social engagement and being in touch directly with the natural world. Involvement with the Farm as a volunteer helped her through past problems and lead her in an entirely new career direction as a staff member. A survey of participants between 2016-2018 (BCF Impact Report, 2019) 3, found that a whopping
84% of respondents felt that undertaking activities at the Farm had improved their mental health and some 18% of the local population have experienced mental ill health. I chatted to a volunteer affected by this in the polytunnels, who told me “It’s made me a new person – I’m so much better” and showed off her successfully rooted fig tree cuttings. Another regular volunteer explained how they bring nature to the city by selling this propagated stock of ornamentals and vegetables at regular Farm Plant Fairs, which are really popular. Over 90% of respondents in the same survey agreed that involvement with BCF had reduced their social isolation and given them new skills and over 80% felt it had improved their confidence levels and physical health. The Farm also provides opportunities for isolated elderly community members and those in residential homes to visit and experience direct contact with the animals. Sarah oversees some of these activities, including “chicken
3, 4. All views of the Farm. © Bath City Farm
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4 5. Eggs laid on the Farm.
1 A History of greenspace and parks, David Thorpe www.davidthorpe.info/ parkhistory/cityfarms. html 2 SFG can be found at www.farmgarden. org.uk 3 Healthier Lives, Healthier Communities, Bath City Farm Impact Report, 2019 4 https://edepot.wur. nl/294514 “Children’s Farms: Extending Bridges between Ethnic Groups in the Netherlands” Monika D.M. Piessens, 2013. The Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VCOM 2010) showed that 31% of BME visitors indicated that they found the farms essential, as compared with a national average of 20% (in Piessens, 2013).
cuddling”, the benefits of which she which she demonstrated by thrusting a warm and docile fowl into my arms. I can vouch for the very calming effect! Sarah is passionately motivated to bring nature to urban dwellers because “I can just see the massive difference it makes to people’s lives and I know how much it helped me.” GP practices in the area offer “social prescribing” of community activity sessions through the Farm and this is part of a fast developing and successful national approach to treating depression, anxiety and social isolation. But it needs socially active landscape opportunities to thrive and this is where landscape architects could consider potential in their projects for community use. There is a clear need to allow the open space (especially in urban areas) to evolve through community use and to facilitate contact with the natural world wherever possible. This means not necessarily proscribing and designing it for a specific end use. Instead of creating a pocket park or a playground in a spare piece of ground – perhaps find out if there are other unmet needs from the local community direct. If you want to find out who has active farming and community gardens in your project area with whom you
could network, the SFG website offers a handy postcode finder for projects. Landscape architect practices could also consider offering more pro-bono advice to such projects in their own localities. Bath City Farm benefits from close support from Avon Wildlife Trust in dealing with its peripheral vegetation and boundaries, whilst Wessex Water have been assisting with the development of irrigation infrastructure. It’s a good opportunity for raising individual and company profiles, as well as putting something back in your locality. Of course, projects such as Farms are eye-wateringly expensive to keep afloat financially and one of the ways BCF funds itself is to offer team building courses for businesses. These have proved very successful and international banks and Google have beaten a path to their door to benefit from their expertise. They also offer site premises for venue hire, so next time you’re organising a team event or arranging a meeting or conference, why not consider hosting it at your local community garden or urban farm and help to nurture nature in our cities? Jill White is a landscape architect with experience in designing community gardens and public open spaces.
Since this article was written, we’ve moved rapidly from celebrating our 25th birthday with ambitious future plans, to wondering if we would survive till our 26th birthday. We made and remade plans to comply with Government guidance. Eventually we made the painful decision to close the Farm. Fortunately, we were able to use the furlough scheme, and retain a skeleton staff to ensure that the animals and site are safe and to continue to support our community as much as possible. We’re using our kitchen to cook meals for delivery to our most vulnerable volunteers and neighbours; providing telephone support to some of our volunteers; and making extensive use of social media to keep the farm available from afar. Our regular Saturday morning Facebook live feed of the animal feeding is especially popular. Our biggest challenge is the massive loss of income we have experienced – all our selfgenerated income from sales of goods and services, events, and on-site donations. And yet we know that the long-term impact of coronavirus on health both physical and mental and on the economy means that what we provide to our community will be needed more than ever once the immediate crisis is over. Jo Southwell, Chair of Trustees, Bath City Farm
Bath City Farm broadcasts live on Saturdays at 11am: facebook.com/BathCityFarm
Everyone can do something to save the world Vestre has incorporated nine of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals into our business philosophy, with the vision of becoming the world’s most sustainable urban outdoor furniture manufacturer. We are in the process of implementing many of these measures. However this is just a start. It’s going to take a lot of money for the world to succeed in eradicating poverty, combating inequality and halting climate change by 2030. This is why Vestre donates at least 10% of its annual profits to sustainable projects worldwide every year.
Knowledge conquers all We support the work of Gyaw Gyaw in building schools in Myanmar and we contribute to UNICEF’s work by giving children who are living in conflict areas the opportunity to go to school each year.
We give back clean energy We use 100% renewable energy in our production, most of which comes from clean hydroelectric power. Our plan is to become completely self-sufficient.
Everyone can do something Work is more than just earning money. Work also creates a sense of mastery, belonging, and fellowship. Vestre offers work to people with gaps in their CVs and who lack access to an ordinary worklife.
We’re leading the way in the green shift By the end of 2020, most of our freight transportation in our production network will be fossil-free by using the world’s first fully electric truck.
Less inequality creates greater trust We refuse to provide hostile designs, which are meant to keep the most marginalised people in the community away from our shared outdoor spaces.
Green cities are smart cities We are researching how large cities can become more energyeffective, through new mobility solutions, recycling of surface water, and by creating outdoor spaces that are more attractive.
Vestre Vision Zero Our Vision Zero means that we will not make a single product that isn’t intended to last forever. We believe this is possible through proper use and maintnance.
Carbon neutral for 10 years Our factory has been carbonneutral since 2010. We also contribute to environmental projects in in Colombia and rainforest protection in Papua New Guinea.
Take care of nature Vestre almost exclusively uses environmentally certified Scandinavian timber from what may be considered the world’s most sustainable forests.
F E AT U R E By Ed Wall
Manifesto for future relations of landscapes Is there a way landscape architects can avoid the duality of nature and city through moreÂ inclusive definitions of landscape that reframe design within planetary contexts? Ed Wall opens up questions for designers seeking to ground their work in the wider, interconnected ecosystem and suggests some potentially useful references
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1. Valley Project, Model 1 (2019). © Ed Wall and Emma Colthurst / Project Studio
2. Valley Project, Drawing 7 (2019). © Ed Wall / Project Studio
... few ingrained assumptions will look so wrongheaded or as globally destructive as the separation of society and nature
he valley section drawings by Patrick Geddes allow us to understand a world of relations, between people, the tools of their work and the places that they transform through their endeavours. These longitudinal sectional drawings, first published in 1909, also illustrate dynamics between mountains, woodlands, farmland, villages, cities and seas. Regarding the question of ‘bringing nature into the city’ or ‘making the city more natural’, Geddes’ regional approach counters a dualism that distances urban conditions of cities from landscapes considered more natural. It also has the potential to point to future relations of landscapes that could afford rights to all species, respect all entities and recognise the interconnectedness of all planetary conditions. From the hills to the sea we can understand the landscapes of the valley section as worked in varying ways, through intensities of urbanisation, concentrations of populations and differing availability of resources. The concept of the valley section allows the extraction of minerals to be related to cities built from these materials and river waters to be considered as core urban infrastructures. Looking closer we can read tensions between agricultural fields that feed growing populations: fields that are simultaneously under threat from the need to expand urban settlements. Despite including landscapes that could be considered more urban and others accepted as more natural, it is impossible to separate society from nature in the valley section. Sparsely populated landscapes are urbanised through their relation to human actions, from tourism to farming and from transportation to industry. Villages, towns and cities – as well as suburbs, conurbations and less densely built environments – are situated and grounded by the bedrock on which they are constructed, in their watersheds that provide essential resources and within weather patterns that inform erosion, growth and decay. Through studying Geddes’ valley section drawings, we can also begin
to understand relations between our contemporary societies and the worlds around us. Changing practices of work, new architectural forms, advanced agricultural technologies and planetary urbanisations could be understood in context with each other through updating, expanding and adapting the valley section. The impact of our work practices and daily lives on the evolving climate crises, changing storm patterns and biodiversity loss could also be drawn forth. And the uneven distributions of power that have resulted in massive ecological damage and social disadvantage could be illustrated in relation to concentrations of wealth and resources. Writing in “In The Nature of Cities” (2005, p.xi) the late geographer Neil Smith claims: “When we eventually look back at the intellectual shibboleths of the high capitalist period – say the last three centuries – few ingrained
assumptions will look so wrongheaded or as globally destructive as the separation of society and nature.” By distancing ourselves from other species and entities, we deny the ecosystems of which we are all a part. To imagine nature as external to society (and to cities) has resulted in intensely commodified and destructively exploited landscapes. While recognising that this exploitation of nature did not begin with capitalism, Smith points out that “Capitalist societies externalize nature to an unprecedented extent (even if they internalize it in the commodity form).” (Ibid, p.xii) In The Landscapists: Redefining Landscape Relations, a recent issue of Architectural Design (AD/Wiley 2020), a grouping of architects, landscape architects, artists, geographers and scientists frame a discourse around the socially constructed form of landscape. 29
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Rather than focusing on the projects undertaken, the articles emphasise practices of individuals and collectives: the way people engage in their work and their interactions with the worlds around them. Patrick Geddes’ valley section is an important reference in this particular framing of landscape: it is adapted, stretched, dissected and reconfigured to explore contemporary challenges and future practices. While the 1909 valley section emphasises a human perspective, a critical re-evaluation of Geddes’ concept can raise questions of who is and who is not represented. Geddes’ drawings privilege paid labour, traditionally undertaken by men, over domestic work that is unremunerated and less visible inside of private homes. It overlooks the work of economics, education and even leisure – all ways of working that have important landscape relations. Geddes’ valley section also ignores less visible structures of power – such as political systems, land ownerships and employment contracts less easily represented in such drawings. This distinctly anthropocentric world view also needs to be challenged. Where are the other animal species in the valley section? Is the work of agricultural animals accounted for? Are the ecological contributions of ancient forests recognised? How are these other lives related to human activities? Oyster beds employed for mitigating storm surges, as in the designs of Kate Orff’s studio Scape, or the impact of methane from domesticated cattle, point to an entanglement of human and non-human processes, entities and species. The capacity of oceans to absorb carbon and winds to produce energy, bind us in complex systems of which we are only a part. Rather than ‘bringing nature into the city’ or ‘making the city more natural’ a recognition of the nature of cities within larger planetary ecosystems should be at the core of landscape practices. Mapping the origins of building materials and their impact on the lives and environments of remote regions; calculating the true cost of designed landscapes and accepting the need to unmake 30
places as well as opportunities to build them, should be central to landscape projects. Approaches to landscape that resist dualistic approaches, that deny prevailing tendencies to commodify and seek other ways of relating to the world are urgently required. Landscape provides a means through which “the destructiveness of this deep-seated presumption of society separated from nature” as Smith describes “will become fully and tragically apparent.” (2006, p.xi) Landscape, when defined as the relations between people and the worlds around them, allows the interactions between species, entities and conditions to be the way in which our cities and remote landscapes are understood, despite being socially constructed. The planetary dynamics that produce places of intense wonder, whether more or less designed, as well as sites of extraordinary destruction, must be first understood before new practices and projects can be imagined. Landscapes embraced as a multiplicity of situated practices – that recognise humans as only a part of a wider ecosystem – have the potential to tell new stories that contrast with those still claiming a separation of nature and cities. Future landscapes that afford rights to all species, respect all entities and recognise
interconnectedness of all conditions could address many important issues. For example, the impact on and of humans on the climate crisis; gentrification of urban neighbourhoods; loss of biodiversity, and concentrations of wealth. We must constantly seek to redefine landscape relations. As the geographer Matthew Gandy explains in “Concrete and Clay: Reworking Nature in New York City”: “A broad and inclusive definition of landscape allows the urban experience to be explored in relation to changing conceptions of nature without separating the technical, political, and aesthetic dimensions of urban space.” (2003, p.6)
3. The Landscapists: Redefining Landscape Relations (Architectural Design/ Wiley 2020), cover image. © Richard Mosse
Ed Wall is Academic Portfolio Lead for Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Greenwich and Visiting Professor at Politecnico di Milano. Ed has written widely, most recently he guest-edited an issue of Architectural Design (AD), The Landscapists: Redefining Landscape Relations (Wiley 2020), and co-edited, with Tim Waterman, Landscape and Agency (Routledge 2017).
Neil Smith (2006) Foreward. In: Nik Heynen, Maria Kaika, Erik Swyngedouw (2006) In the Nature of Cities: Urban Political Ecology and the Politics of Urban Metabolism. Taylor & Francis Matthew Gandy (2003) Concrete and Clay: Reworking Nature in New York City. MIT Press Ed Wall (2020) The Landscapists: Redefining Landscape Relations. Architectural Design. Wiley
I N T E R N AT I O N A L S H O W C A S E By Jota Samper and Carlos Escobar
The transformation of MedellĂn Environmental remediation and community development is having a huge impact on the informal settlements of Medellin in Colombia 1. Escalators. Before and after. ÂŠ Jota Samper, Carlos Escobar
1 HermelĂn, M. (2005). Desastres de origen natural en Colombia, 1979-2004. Universidad Eafit.
edellin is the secondlargest city in Colombia; it was the centre of agrarian production in the early part of the 20th century with the boom in coffee production, then transitioned to the manufacturing of goods such as textiles. As with many Latin American cities, Medellin received a large influx of population from the rural areas in the late part of the 20th century generating a massive urban expansion. However, the collapse of industries resulted in a lack of opportunities for employment for those arriving at the city, the lack of jobs and affordable housing opportunities propelled these poor arriving populations to create informal settlements on the edges of the city. Most of them are in high slopes of the mountains or in flood banks of the hundreds of creeks that surround the valley. The combination of the hazardous condition of this geography and the vulnerability of these populations creates high levels of environmental insecurity. The frequent rains and slopes soils composition create a risk to landslides or floods and endanger the lives of the thousands of informal dwellers of the city. Just in 1987, a landslide in the neighbourhood of Villatina took the life of 500 inhabitants.1 In the 1980s and 90s, Medellin experienced the most difficult moments in its recent history, high unemployment rates, violence and the continuous expansion of informal settlements. With the collapse of industries in the city, the illicit drug market emerged.
The informal neighbourhoods became areas ripe for recruitment for the violent efforts of drug cartels and for the hiding of illegal groups that were fighting the Government in the long, nondeclared civil war in Colombia. The low institutional presence and the lack of public investment, high unemployment rate, and the high levels of poverty
turned the informal settlements of the city into favourable territories to house illegal groups. The resurgence of the city over the last decade is the result of the collective efforts of initiatives of a social, academic, cultural and institutional nature. These include the Consajeria para la Paz (Peace Council), the municipal 31
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PUI of Comuna 13
investments in public infrastructure like the METRO system, and the local communitarian organisations’ centres in the hundreds of informal settlements of the city. In response to the failure of military interventions to improve security in informal areas, the city made large investments in public works, such as cable cars, educational and cultural facilities, and urban projects in the poorest of the areas. These projects generated significant urban, social and cultural improvements in these neighbourhoods. The continued municipal effort maintained over several public administrations is known today as “the transformation of Medellín’’. The primary strategy was the use of physical urban projects to transform the city socially and physically. The most significant of those infrastructure strategies are the Integrated Urban projects (known in Spanish as PUI – Proyectos Urbanos Integrales). These PUI projects bring together various physical initiatives: libraries, schools, transportation, public space, housing, and environmental remediation. They built them in a short period throughout the most marginalised areas of the city. The interventions cover two critical problems: (1) social inequality, what 32
public officials called the “social debt” of the city to the poor, and (2) violence, which has deep roots across all social classes . The value of the Medellin upgrading effort is significant since the state had not invested in many of these neighbourhoods in as much as sixty years. The PUI comprises three areas of intervention. Firstly, inter-institutional coordination via the Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano (EDU), which dovetailed the different Municipal offices. Secondly, community participation through public meetings. Among all Latin American urban upgrading projects, the PUI stands out as an example of how to engage with marginalised communities. The PUI included a wide variety of projects that included public space, environmental remediation, housing, and transportation. The PUI projects are one of the most important contributions to the physical landscape of Medellín. The four PUIs up to today have become a model for dealing with informal settlements, and the project sites are attractions both for scholars and practitioners interested in dealing with issues of urban informality, as well as to tourists who come to see these unique spaces.
The Comuna 13th, located on the western side of the city of Medellín, has an area of 450 hectares and a population of 145,000 inhabitants2 Nearly 60% of this territory presents informal urbanisation and this has resulted in deterioration of natural resources, reduced mobility, absence of public spaces and facilities, little institutional coverage and poverty3. However, the most distinct feature of this district has been violence. Between 2003 and 2012, more than 1,200 murders occurred, and in 2010 the homicide rate reached 172.5 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. These circumstances made Comuna 13 one of the most segregated areas in the city. The combination of lack of infrastructure and insecurity was the motivating factor for the city to implement the PUI – Comuna 13th between 2007 and 2012, to improve the district’s conditions. The PUI is a strategy that simultaneously tackles the physical, social, and institutional problems of the district with actions in three areas: 1. Physical space – with increased public areas to improve human and social interaction, new facilities to increase the coverage of programs and public policies, and the improvement of pedestrian and vehicular mobility to facilitate social integration and free access to residents and resources. 2. Social initiatives: training of community organisations and the participation of locals in the conception, development, and construction of projects. The social work improved credibility in the Government and reduced indifference and social resistance towards public initiatives. 3. Institutional coordination: synchronizing the work of public institutions, to optimise their technical resources through coordinated action. The work of state institutions in these neighbourhoods made city management more efficient and improved the image of the state with the local population. The PUI of Comuna 13, with an investment of 35 million dollars over
2. Childhood Park and tourists at Graffitour. © Valeria Henao
The constant arrival of visitors to this place and the economic resources they bring with them have become an opportunity for economic growth for these impoverished communities.
1 Samper Escobar, J. J. (2012). Medellin, Colombia Integrated Urban Project. In Urban Anthologies: Learning From Our Cities (Vol. 1, p. 110). MIT School of Architecture + Planning & Senseable City Lab. http://senseable.mit. edu/wef/ 2 Alcaldía de Medellín. “Plan de Desarrollo Local de la Comuna 13, San Javier.” Medellín: Dirección de Planeación Municipal (2010). 3 Samper, J. Jaime. (2014). Physical space and its role in the production and reproduction of violence in the “slum wars” in Medellin, Colombia (1970s2013). /z-wcorg/. 4 EDU – Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano de Medellín (2010), Gerencia Proyecto Urbano Integral PUI Comuna 13.
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3. PUI Comuna 13, Master Plan. © Carlos Escobar
4. Local artist group and tourists. © Jota Samper, Carlos Escobar
5. Square, Graffitour’s area. © Jota Samper, Carlos Escobar
5 years, included eight parks, four community centres, two sports facilities, five vehicular roads and two pedestrian trails. A critical project was the construction of a system of public escalators to solve mobility in the high sloped areas of the district. The PUI encompassed more than 110,000 square metres and created 2,341 jobs whilst the EDU carried out 13,965 public engagement activities with a total participation of 171,491 residents4. The PUI reduced risk conditions in steep slopes susceptible to landslides, a place vulnerable to the effects of climate change. These projects were designed in compliance with building and safety codes, including earthquake resistance analysis. In this context, structural elements such as retaining walls, aqueducts and sewer systems were used to stabilise the soils, avoid further landslides and reduce the vulnerability of homes located in these neighbourhoods due to extreme weather. In particular, the new spatial conditions of the PUI generated opportunities for cultural and economic development. Fundamental in such development is the way the local community appropriated some projects such as the escalators. In addition to providing solutions for mobility, this project has been a
catalyst for the social and economic development of the community. Since the beginning, the escalator project has led to the arrival of visitors from all over the world, initially, those interested in knowing about its application in the context of Informal settlements. Later on, tourists have been interested in learning about new expressions of “urban art” strongly embraced by the population which the escalators have made more visible. The constant arrival of visitors to this place and the economic resources they bring with them have become an opportunity for economic growth for these impoverished communities. Local entrepreneurs capture these new resources through small shops like the sale of souvenirs, typical foods or drinks and through a new offer of specialised cultural and artistic services called the Graffitour. During these, visitors learn through urban art, the history of resilience and hope of the Comuna 13 residents. The visits are organised and guided by local youth groups, who have converted the new plazas, trails, retaining walls and façades around the escalators, into art galleries and meeting places. There, groups of local artists converge through murals, music, and dance, the stories of poverty, violence, physical transformation, and social rebirth that lived in this area during the last decades.
The critical lesson from Medellin is about the synergy between state-risk infrastructure projects and communityled cultural projects. These cultural projects, many of which started as a response of residents to the violence in their communities, used the project’s success to export the positive values upheld by the community. It is through the synergy of the success of urban projects and the uniqueness of the community cultural projects that a new hybrid was created that catapulted both efforts to a new space in which state, local community organisations and foreigners, in the form of tourists, all help in the betterment of the community. Jota Samper is an Assistant Professor at the Environmental Design Program at the University of Colorado Boulder. His work concentrates on sustainable urban growth and at the intersection between urban informality and violent urban conflict. Carlos Escobar is a Consultant from the Housing and Urban Development División at the InterAmerican Development Bank. His expertise as Coordinator of Urbanism and Architecture for the Integrated Urban Project at La Comuna 13 in Medellín, has led him to participate in different academic and urban initiatives in Central América and the Caribbean. 33
I N T E R N AT I O N A L S H O W C A S E By Will Sandy
The Catalyst Cube: thinking outside the box The Catalyst Cube, showcased in Caracas, Venezuela is an accessible and engaging green intervention for communities
he Catalyst Cube is a moveable, multifunctional pavilion that’s designed to be placed directly into the existing landscape to inspire social, cultural and educational exchanges. I designed it to connect people with their immediate environment, while its presence creates an instant neighbourhood focal point. Temporary interventions can play a key role in bringing nature into the city and connecting people with the public realm. With that in mind, from the very start, planting was an integral
design aspect of the Catalyst Cube. Its green roof grounds the project in the landscape and local climate, enhancing the natural characteristics of its home city or district. Not only does its roof inject a shot of greenery into the neighbourhood where it’s placed, at the same time it creates a visual connection to the wider landscape – you start to notice what else is, or isn’t, there. Over the years, I’ve seen how changing the physical fabric of our urban environments with such green interventions can help people to view the city around them with fresh
1. Open for all. © Edgar Martinez
2. A local landmark. © Edgar Martinez
eyes. In the case of the Catalyst Cube – which made its debut in Caracas, Venezuela – the very planting of its roof became a tool to engage local children and families, while inspiring
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3. Flexible and adaptable façades. © Edgar Martinez
4. Community planting events. © Smiley Plant Organisation
5. Opportunities for knowledge sharing. © Edgar Martinez
I see potential for the Cube to be a moveable and reusable asset for local councils, developers and organisations to adopt and utilise across multiple locations
them to explore other existing green spaces. In this way, the Cube can encourage citizens to take an interest in more permanent streetscape design and green enclaves in our urban environments. In turn, its intrinsic flexibility allows it to support a diverse range of activities, from basketball games and exhibitions, to community events and neighbourhood meetings. It gives people the agency to define and curate public spaces for themselves at a time when cities’ physical and social fabrics are in constant flux. This is important because, in life, there are three places that humans identify with: the home, the workplace and the third place. The Cube sets out to be a third, and crucially green, place in the urban landscape. The green roof of the Cube has also provided an opportunity to test the idea for the first temporary modular green roof. This has been developed through conversations and design development with the team at Green Roof Revival. We believe it is possible to provide an instant green roof solution for temporary buildings or installations. Whether the crown
of the Cube or adorning the roofs of shipping container shops, leisure or work spaces, or the swathes of temporary welfare units and offices on building sites, it’s a temporary solution that offers the benefits of green roofs with none of the on-site disruption. It introduces an instant visual amenity and a vital verdant network that enhances routes across cites. This is key when we consider, for example, The City of London’s Open Space Strategy1. It outlines a series of strategic objectives, including the need to ‘effectively manage the temporary loss of any open space during construction projects and ensure that high quality open space of equivalent or greater size is established as soon as possible following the necessary works.’ Certainly, there is scope to introduce temporary green spaces that enrich the biodiversity of a city as it evolves and develops. Such interventions will also help to inspire, influence and inform the future permanent design of the built environment. Like our proposed temporary green roof, the Cube is delivered to site whole or as a kit of parts, providing instant activation while minimising disruption. Now, I see potential for the Cube to be a moveable and reusable asset for local councils, developers and organisations to adopt and utilise across multiple locations. Back to its origins, however. The Catalyst Cube is born from Reframing Spaces Caracas, a project I undertook
with the British Council in Venezuela, to explore ways to improve the quality of life for modern-day Caraqueños. The year-long programme of work was carried out with the British Council and local practice Incursiones Architects – with input from citizens, students and the creative design community of Caracas – addressing the daily social and cultural challenges faced by the citizens of this capital city. The resulting Cube is currently in situ, providing neighbourhoods with a sense of ownership and pride in their city, while promoting safer, responsible use of public space. Such seemingly modest local initiatives, pocket parks, temporary activations and tactical urbanism aggregate up into a whole that makes a city not only more liveable and diverse, but are also critical contributors to the cities’ resilience. When we start to appreciate these moments of green, we begin to understand what works and how nature is reclaiming urban spaces. From here, we can enhance our city streets in the name of both nature and the betterment of human residents’ lives. Will Sandy runs a multidisciplinary landscape architecture and design studio founded in 2009. Alongside his own studio, Will was co-founder and creative director at The Edible Bus Stop. 1 https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/ environment-and-planning/planning/heritage-anddesign/Documents/open-space-strategy-spd-2015.pdf
F E AT U R E By Peter Sheard 1. Hamburg’s ambitious green roof strategy showing the potential to transform the city’s roofscape (‘Ministry of Environment & Energy, Hamburg’). © Ministry of Environment and Energy
2. The ‘GrünesNetzHamburg’ symbol showing the rings, the axes and the parks. © Ministry of Environment and Energy
Hamburg – home of the Green Network Hamburg’s Green Network is not only one hundred years old this year but its adaptability enables it to embrace the city’s expansion
he ‘Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg’ is a place dominated by water, defining its history, its culture and its character. At the heart of the City is the Alster: an interlinked pair of lakes surrounded by grand buildings, handsome promenades and beautiful leafy villas, every bit as striking as Geneva’s. Lesser known however, is the fact that half the metropolitan area is green space, which extends way out from the Alster to the landscapes beyond the City’s boundaries, giving its residents an invaluable means of connecting to nature and conversely, a means by which Nature can return the favour. So how did this happy situation come about? 36
This year marks the City’s 100th year of planning for what is now called its ‘GrünesNetzHamburg’ (Green Network); the first plan being the ‘Axial Concept’ from 1919 which established the idea of green corridors radiating out from the city centre, with interaxial spaces providing parks, allotments and sports grounds, the main aim of which was to ‘connect city dwellers with the countryside’. In the 1920s this enlightened idea was supplemented with parks like the ‘Stadtpark’ with its lakes, woods and gardens to serve the growing population. However, WWII wreaked huge damage on Hamburg with much of the city either destroyed or severely affected. Nevertheless, as part of its recovery, Hamburg’s 1947 ‘Reconstruction Plan’ adopted the same principles as before, and thus
green space helped guide its urban renewal. This continued through two more iterations until in 1973, when the axes were extended and also supplemented by two ‘Green Rings’ circling the city. The first was along the line of the historic fortifications and the second about 8km from the centre, to start connecting the disparate green spaces. These bolder moves were more overtly ecological (in keeping with the times), with habitat creation and wildlife enhancement now more to the fore, recognizing that human beings were not the only end-user of the City’s spaces. Further plans in the 20th century supplemented this framework, so that the present-day ‘GrünesNetzHamburg’ is strikingly evident, physically accessible and impressive.
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3. The 1920’s ‘Stadtpark’ with its view over the central lake to the Planetarium’. © Peter Sheard
The challenge for the city is to expand and improve all the component parts of this network, which faces financial and development pressures as Hamburg’s population continues to grow
By far the most noticeable characteristic of the network is its connectivity: for example, take the Green Rings. The inner ring is the oldest part and consists of a series of parks and urban plazas which together represent a fascinating record of changing tastes in landscape design. Hamburg scooped three international garden festivals (IGAs) between 1953 and 1973 whose collective legacy is now a large swathe of park. In a similar spirit, the old port ‘HafenCity’ has new urban spaces which are key parts of the area’s restoration, each of which contributes to the contiguous nature of the inner ring. Thus, as the City grows so does the ring. The more extensive outer ring is an evolving feast whose main aim is to tie together disparate open spaces including historic city-parks, wetlands and marshes, cemeteries and heathlands; collectively this produces an unbroken green route 100km long, enabling residents to circumnavigate the city.
Second largest city in Germany
No less important are the ‘Green Axes’: a dozen routes that stretch 10-25km from the city centre and, in terms of nature conservation and habitats, these are far more valuable. Some are based on the water courses that feed the Alster, characterized by marshland and ponds, whilst others contain semi-natural heathland, grassland and woods on the periphery of the metropolitan area. The arable
land and riverine flood plains that are concentrated in the south have corridors that extend northwards towards the Elbe and the city. All these valuable environments are accessible and enable many species of plants and animals to penetrate and colonise the city. By necessity, as these axes come further into the city they narrow and become more managed, some eventually becoming avenues and verges.
sq km (290 sq miles)
225,000 street trees
land area green space
parks and gardens
agriculture Green Rings; 12 Green Axes • 2Outer long. • City hasring30100km • (8-60 ha) Borough Parks has 8 District Parks (65-150 ha) • City City has 130 Neighbourhood/ Pocket Parks • (totalling 980ha)
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They continue, however, to provide a means by which the natural world has a part in the lives of the city’s residents. Nevertheless, the challenge for the city is to expand and improve all the component parts of this network, which faces financial and development pressures as Hamburg’s population continues to grow. The City actively looks for gaps and tries to fill them, with scores of ongoing projects and initiatives to ensure easy access and even distribution, and a vital programme of education to widen their appreciation. For example, along some of the green axes there are 100,000 people within 5 minutes’ walk, but a lot of people don’t realise what’s on their doorstep, which is of some concern. The future aims of the ‘Green Network’ are by necessity evolving, both geographically and aspirationally. Hamburg is bursting at the seams and one focus is to grow is south, to areas perceived as environmentally scarred by industry. Hence the ‘Leap Across the Elbe’ initiative which has focused attention and funds on creating a new exemplar community with three themes of safeguarding the climate, encouraging cultural diversity and making new spaces for the city. Thus in 2013 another IGA created the 70 ha ‘Wilhelmsburger Inselpark’, a rich mosaic of restored waterbodies, wetlands, allotments and gardens which has changed perception of this district and ‘plugged’ it into the wider green community. 38
Additionally, new spaces are assessed for their ‘usefulness’ in terms of nature conservation and areas which contain rare habitats are prioritized. Hence, three new nature reserves totalling 400ha have been created since 2017, making up around 9.5% of the metropolitan area. The newest, in Diekbek, will be the 36th. An interesting aspect of the city’s strategy is the ‘Mammal Atlas’, which collects data (partly by paid biologists and partly by volunteer bodies) mapping the biotopes and species. The resultant ‘Habitats Directive’ monitors the health and diversity of all the city’s residents, and highlights where action needs to be taken. It demonstrates that nearly 60 species are endemic to the city, including deer, bats, seals and shrews, and includes protected endangered species like the brown hare; with visitors like boar and raccoons. It is widely accepted that green roofs can be a credible and viable part of a city’s green credentials helping to mitigate climatic fluctuation and help biodiversity. Thus, Hamburg has developed a strategy to significantly increase green roofs in the next 5 years, allocating a budget of 3 million Euros and a compelling communications strategy 5 showing what can be
achieved. Hamburg is something of a pioneer in Germany, in terms of its approach and the initiative has much to contribute to reducing some of the more extreme effects of urbanisation. In summary, the crowning achievement of Hamburg’s ‘Green Network’ is its historic continuity: its presence is embedded in the psyche of the place. Paradoxically this can also create ambivalence: where the network could be ‘taken for granted’ and picked apart slowly and incrementally. Environmental protection requires an economic or political imperative and in Hamburg the later criterion has been constant and compelling. From 1920 there has been energetic political backing to make and keep Hamburg as a ‘Green Metropolis’. This can be traced from the original ‘Axial Concept’ to the 20th century IGA’s; from Hamburg’s tenure as ‘European Green Capital’ in 2011 to 2013’s ‘Leap Across the Elbe’ with its international building exhibitions and IGAs and through to the City’s current 100 year-old ‘GrünesNetzHamburg’. The recent Green Party’s advances in this year’s elections, mean that the value and relevance of landscape in facing the challenges of our times permeates all levels of the city’s planning. The result is a wonderfully green and verdant city where nature truly has its place. Peter Sheard is a freelance landscape architect and urban designer based in London.
4. The refurbished ‘Kuhmulenteich’ water basin on the inner reaches of the ‘Wandsee’. © Peter Sheard
5. The inner reaches of the ‘Wandsee’. © Peter Sheard
F E AT U R E By Will Jennings
Balcony rights and wrongs
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Around the world, lockdown life has focused attention on gardens, public parks and balconies, and perhaps could lead to new rights and respects for this unique space
rom China to Italy, Brazil to Britain, we have seen how balconies have offered a platform for display, solidarity, communication and protest across a planet sharing such anxious circumstances. These spaces have supported community singalongs; political protest against authoritarianism; an introduction to neighbours above, below and to the side; socially-distanced group exercises and baskets on ropes lowered to the street to be filled with groceries, a lifeline for the isolated. They have become a symbol of a developing global and local togetherness. But after lockdown recedes, and noise and pollution return, will these balconies be vacated once more, or will they remain occupied as a critical component to urban life, community, and nature? The balcony began life, as so much in our built environment, as a military structure. The bretèche dangled outside of fortifications, a device for defenders to launch rocks, arrows and oil onto attackers.
As cities evolve, architectural forms get repurposed: so too the bretèche migrated from defensive into civic space, built into city halls as platform for pronouncements, presentation and performed politics. Over time, balconies also became focal points for festivals and games, a space where dignitaries spectated religious processions, jousting tournaments and fêtes. They offered a space where invited guests could not only see the activities but be seen by the population as a guest of royal or political elite.1 Throughout history, civic balconies have retained this importance as spaces to display power, from Papal blessings to Mussolini’s posturing and Ceausescu’s final speech, and as a backdrop for media-age moments from that Royal Wedding to the celebratory raising of sports trophies and Michael Jackson’s baby-dangling. What the ruling classes do in civic space, upper middle classes replicate in the domestic, and the development of porticos and loggias to grand homes gave a space of entertainment overlooking personal courtyards and gardens. As cities became more
compact, this vernacular filtered into smaller homes and apartments, with porticos directly addressing the street. After windows were enlarged to offer access, the balcony emerged. In the late 16th century, when Shakespeare wrote his famous scene, Juliet simply appeared “above, at a window”. There wasn’t a word in English for balcony, but within a few decades, when audiences were reading, watching and critiquing Shakespeare’s play, balconies were becoming quite the rage. First appearing on stately piles, they were then drawn into cities, not least with Inigo Jones’ 1630s Europeaninfluenced designs for Covent Garden. By the time of Baron Haussmann’s 19th century Paris redesign, balconies were a critical element of the urban set piece, wrought ironwork offering horizontal bandings along boulevards.2 Just as the civic balcony offered a vantage of events below, so too the domestic balcony watched over dramas of modern everyday life, the theatre of the street and all its actors. Édouard Manet rendered this in The Balcony, his 1868-9 oil painting in
1 Mario Damon “The Town as Stage? Urban space and tournaments in late medieval Brussels”, Urban History, 43, 1, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015) 2 Jonathan Crary, Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture, (Cambridge, USA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1999), 84
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3 Michel Foucault, Manet and the Object of Painting, trans. Matthew Barr (London: Tate, 2009), 70-71 4 See Florin Poenaru, On Balcony: State/ Citizens Intersection in a Socialist Romanian Bloc of Flats, (Budapest: Central European University Department of Sociology and SocioAnthropology, 2007)
which three figures fill the foreground, a servant concealed in the shadows behind, encapsulating the very modern moment where private and public lives found new spaces of intersection, and new city forms were designed around the gaze. The three main figures look in different directions, seemingly more interested in the world out there than the one shared within, while our vantage of them is from the same level, perhaps from a balcony across the street. They possess a sense of vulnerability in this new democratic duality of private and public, theorist Michel Foucault described the painting as “suspended between the darkness and the light, between the interior and the exterior… at the limit of light and darkness… of life and death.”3 Mutual gaze is at the core of the balcony’s identity. This recently hit the news when residents of luxury housing development Neo Bankside filed a complaint that Tate Modern visitors could stare straight into their £1m-£15m apartments. The rooms in which tourists found such spectacle were in fact not rooms at all, but balconies wrapped in single-skin glazing and rebranded as a “winter garden”. While owners may treat it as an internal space with carefully curated designer furniture, the gawping tourists are in fact gazing upon a balcony. Display and mutual gaze is key to the balcony’s meaning, and the case
was thrown out of court with the judge proposing net curtains. The balcony exists at this confluence of public and private, and with that the argument around how the individual engages with the wider world. In Ceausescu’s Romania, the state clamped down on “improper” use of balconies. Officials randomly inspected them, followed by written warnings and educational workshops if there was evidence of growing vegetables, storage, or drying clothes, considered provincial dirty habits. To the state, balconies were a shorthand to collective order, if the appearance of blocks was tidy, then so too the façade of the system seemed intact, and with it individuality and mess of the civitas removed from view.4 In 21st century Britain, neoliberal freeholds and leaseholds can seem remarkably similar. A friend’s lease states that, “a patio table and garden furniture not more than four patio chairs and eight well maintained pot plants are permitted on balconies. No other items are permitted at any time and the use of balconies as a storage facility is strictly prohibited as is the drying of washing or the use of bamboo ‘screens’.” There are post-Grenfell and litigious reasons for this, but within urban environments which arguably value capital return and rental profit over people’s lived experience, such strict management
of appearances appear in support of maintaining a presentable if anonymous image for the distanced gaze of an investor. As I look up at balconies on my daily mandated walk, I don’t think of Manet’s rendering and his smart, somewhat awkward characters. All the people I could see were entirely comfortable, and in the Spring sun were wearing far less. Belgian surrealist René Magritte re-rendered the scene in Perspective II: Manet’s Balcony, but transmogrified all four figures into coffins, and in a world dominated by tragedy, fear, virus and loss, it is this artwork which comes to mind. At a time of coronavirus, when balconies offer a way for individuals to enter the public realm, showing the world they are still alive while remaining isolated, Magritte’s metamorphosis of bodies to coffins, life to death, takes on a prescience. In this world of loss, each figure witnessed on a balcony is not only a statement of life, but an acknowledgment of death. The essence of the threshold between inside/outside, private/ public, enclosed/open, claustrophobia/ agoraphobia, and voyeur/viewed that makes balconies such delicate yet valuable elements of the cultural and social realm, can also nourish the natural. As we address climate breakdown, planted balconies could
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not just be a luxury, but critical to our urban response, invaluable in buffering noise, filtering air, retaining heat and offering shade. Even if only some of a city’s balconies were transformed, then heat island effects could be fought against and the struggle against climate breakdown can be both supported and made visual. The problem is that balconies are currently conceived as decorative add-ons, not integral elements of a complicated urban programme. A 1957 report into Londoners’ uses of balconies found that when a window box was built into the balcony, the percentage of residents who grew plants or vegetables more than doubled to 80%.5 With the ever-critical need to consider architecture and landscape as one, built and natural environment in tandem, a deeper consideration of the balcony could be key. The only life to have survived from Manet to Magritte is a potted hydrangea in the corner of the balcony, and perhaps this flourishing flower offers a possible future for balconies in our cities. That beyond operating as a space for us, and all our sociopolitical demands, they are also perfect spaces to support the immediate need to pack our cities with nature, offering perfect habitat for a range of flora, whether succulent, fern, herb, tree, fruit or flower.
There is far more ecological potential for the balcony than a sad bamboo rush screen weaved between railings. Just as Manet’s hydrangea survived through to Magritte, so too other nature can thrive in this liminal, sheltered, airy space. Each balcony could become a tiny allotment growing tomatoes, basil, sage, providing core ingredients for a post-COVID pasta sauce. Flowers and pot plants can decorate, offer natural framing from the inside out, and display personal identity to the world looking back. In 1935, ethical socialist, politician and proponent of urban gardening Ada Salter, wrote to The Times stating: “Owing to the economic crisis through which this country is passing, depression is rife and it is difficult to estimate true values. … The cultivation of the tiny front gardens and the homely forecourt must be achieved if the common man and woman passing to and fro may “inhale the sweet scents of the flowers coming and going like the warbling of music.”’6 In not dissimilar times, with “tiny front gardens” now arrayed across great blocks, Salter’s green socialism can help us reimagine balconies as a great patchwork of individual frames, disassociated gardens, and moments of tranquillity, decorating the solid city and celebrating life within. The architect Freidrich Hundertwasser wrote of “Window
Rights”, suggesting that grids of uniformity are “unbearable”, and that as individuals are never identical themselves “a person in a rented apartment must be able to lean out of his window and… be allowed to take a long brush and paint everything outside within arm’s reach… visible from afar to everyone in the street that someone lives there who is different from the imprisoned, enslaved, standardised man who lives next door.”7 If we can draw anything from this awful COVID situation, a newfound solidarity, communal action, natural opportunity and playful personalisation could emerge. Perhaps now we need to develop “Balcony Rights” to continue to evolve their unique social, natural and political qualities evident through lockdown, and to address how our natural and human landscape is designed with this key interstitial battleground in our collective climate and social struggles.
With thanks to the following Landscape Institute members of staff for providing the images: Lucy Dobinson Ben Gosling Ruth Lake Claire Winder Emma Wood
5 “L.C.C. Report on Private Balconies”, Official Architecture and Planning, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Abingdon: Alexandrine Press, 1957), 140-141
Will Jennings is a London based writer and visual artist, interested in cities and human influenced environments, in particular how they intersect with politics, culture, history, and society. He is a 2020 Fellow of the Future Architecture Platform.
6 Ada Salter, London Gardens, letter to The Times of London, January 16th, 1935 7 Freidrich Hundertwasser, Window Dictatorship and Window Rights, (Vienna: Hundertwasser Archive, 1990)
1. No 1 Poultry. © John East
F E AT U R E By Susannah Charlton
Bringing nature into the twentieth-century city A new book by the Twentieth Century Society charts the development of gardens and landscapes from 1914 to the present. It invites us to look afresh at 20th-century gardens and landscapes, setting some of that era’s most famous gardens alongside the less celebrated but arguably more important landscapes which shape our everyday lives. The book’s co-editor Susannah Charlton writes about how the visionaries, designers and landscape architects of the last century brought nature into the city.
The Garden Cities were set up as City Companies. Rental income from developed property was then available to the City Company to pay off interest and to plough back into the town for non-revenue community purposes, Howard intended this to replace Rates eventually. Land was s owned by a company to manage speculation and to direct the proceeds. 1
he 20th century saw gardens break the boundaries of previous centuries. No longer the sole preserve of the privileged, gardens infiltrated the city as more people gained their own personal plot, tall buildings were topped with roof gardens and landscape designers applied their talents to landscaping new towns and housing estates rather than rural rolling acres. Over the century, ideals and strategies about how to combine buildings and the natural world have
evolved, from garden cities early in the century, through post-war new towns and landscaped housing estates, to the renaissance of urban parks in recent years. A century ago Ebenezer Howard founded Welwyn Garden City which embodies his concept of a ‘marriage of town and country’, with the land held in trust1 to avoid speculation. Although founded by Howard, the overall plan and landscaping were masterminded by Louis de Soissons. Welwyn Garden City Trust archivist Angela Eserin describes how he
retained existing trees and selected over 100 new species to put nature at the heart of the new city: Lombardy poplars, not buildings, provide height in the grand views afforded by the formal Beaux Arts town centre. The two wide central roads not only have double avenues of lime trees separating people from traffic, but also lawns and rose beds. The more intimate closes of housing have open front gardens, hedges and distinctive tree planting in each area, giving a countryside feel. Conceived as a ‘Forest City’, Otto Saumarez Smith sees Telford New 43
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Town as an astonishingly ambitious response to the scars of previous industrialisation. It was developed from 1968 in an area famous as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, blighted with disused mine shafts, derelict pools and colliery spoil. The Development Corporation planted over five million trees, undertook massive earth moulding projects and created a 450-acre (182.1 ha) park at its centre, transforming flooded clay pits into ornamental lakes. But what of those who lived in the Big Smoke? Whereas Hampstead Garden Suburb offered a rustic idyll at the edge of the city, modernist architects envisioned new ways of living, with a different relationship between the building and the landscape. John Allan emphasises how Berthold Lubetkin’s design for Highpoint (1935-38), famed for its modernist architecture, was conceived as a composition of buildings and site ‘that together represent the most complete realisation of a particular urban planning model – compact apartments in a recreational landscape offering an idealised vision of modern living’. Dolphin Square (1935) set sophisticated flats around gardens by
the pioneering landscape architect Richard Sudell, who used native plants from different countries to create discrete areas adapted to their microclimate. While celebrating the survival of most of the gardens, Clare Price warns of development proposals which threaten parts of them, even though they are registered Grade II. The Alton Estates (1952-61), designed by the London County Council Architect’s Department, fuse Modern Movement architecture with a picturesque landscape: the grounds of war-damaged Victorian villas and rolling parkland partly designed by Capability Brown. Suzanne Waters grew up there and recalls childhood memories of a ha-ha separating where she lived at Alton West from a golf course. At Alexandra Road Park (1977-80), Neave Brown and Janet Jack created a unique integration of landscape and architectural design. Sarah Couch describes the whole surface of the site as ‘a sculpted landscape that relies on strong geometric design, complex levels, generous planting for wind shelter and a consistent approach to hard landscape detailing to create an unusually dense and intricate park.’ It
exemplifies the mid-century approach to design and social inclusion. There is something undeniably glamorous and quintessentially urban about a roof garden: being surrounded by lush plants and trees while looking out over a city skyline is a hard combination to beat. Sarah Rutherford and Sarah Couch worked on the restoration of the spectacular roof garden designed by Ralph Hancock for Derry & Tom’s department store in Kensington High Street, West London (1936-38). At 1.48 acres, it was the largest of its type in the world, paralleled only by Hancock’s roof gardens for the Rockefeller Centre in New York. Its Spanish Garden comes complete with a Moorish folly, pergola, canal and fountain, while the central woodland garden supports large trees and exotic planting around a stream. Lunettes in the brick wall allow long views over London’s skyline, while eye-catching flamingos add a final flamboyant touch. At the Golden Lane estate in London (1952-63) Peter Chamberlin designed a roof garden on top of Great Arthur House, featuring a pool and pergola and great views over the city. His colleague Geoffry Powell said of
2. Highpoint. © John East
3. Welyn Garden City. © John East
4. Golden Lane Estate roof garden. © Steve Smith
5. Derry and Toms roof gardens. © John East
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6. Derry and Toms roof gardens. © John East
One of the motivations for the book was to draw attention to the need for more protection for 20th-century gardens and landscapes...
the estate: ‘We have no desire to make the project look like a garden suburb.’ Geoffrey Jellicoe was commissioned to design a roof garden for Harvey’s Store in Guildford (now House of Fraser) in 1956. Barbara Simms says the resulting design for a café and water garden was ‘inspired by a Sputnik then circling the earth and was intended to mimic the first view of earth from space. Jellicoe described it as ‘a sky garden’ that united heaven and earth.’ The roof garden of No 1 Poultry (1996), overlooking Mansion House at the heart of the City of London, is far more urbane in its conception. The design incorporates three elements: a formal terrace of lawns and clipped box at the prow of the building, two restaurant terraces with perimeter shrub planting, and a circular walled garden with planting that evokes ancient Crete. Chris Sumner, quotes designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd as saying it was ‘an example of how these kinds of gestures can radically change the face of our cities’. Such gestures have become far more common as architects are increasingly aware of the ecological and financial benefits of incorporating green space in and on their buildings. A photograph of the remarkable garden created by Derek Jarman at Prospect Cottage (1986) was chosen as our cover image long before we knew of the Art Fund’s campaign
to save it. This place exemplifies the vulnerability of a garden that has lost its original creator. One of the motivations for the book was to draw attention to the need for more protection for 20th-century gardens and landscapes, many of which form ensembles with outstanding post1914 buildings. The C20 Society has campaigned successfully to protect such ensembles, including the exceptionally accomplished landscape of the RMC head office (Edward Cullinan Studio, 1990, Surrey) and the important design by Professor Arnold Weddle for the 25-acre grounds of the Pearl Centre (1992, Peterborough). The Society also works closely on this issue with the Gardens Trust, statutory consultee for gardens and landscapes, most recently on their project to propose significant 20th-century examples for addition to the Register of Parks and Gardens. As well as the individual entries on the 100 gardens and landscapes, the book includes contextual essays by Barbara Simms on private gardens, Elain Harwood on the landscaping of infrastructure, and Alan Powers, who uses the career of Geoffrey Jellicoe as a springboard to write about the development of the landscape profession. It ends with a persuasive call from Johanna Gibbons to recognise the value of modern urban landscapes before it is too late.
100 20th-Century Gardens and Landscapes is edited by Susannah Charlton and Elain Harwood and published by Batsford, £25. Contributors mentioned in this article include: Angela Eserin, archivist of the Welwyn Garden City Trust Otto Saumarez Smith, trustee C20 Society; assistant professor, University of Warwick John Allan, consultant to Avanti Architects; author of book on Berthold Lubetkin Clare Price, head of casework, C20 Society Suzanne Waters, architectural historian and RIBA Library Collections Cataloguer Sarah Rutherford, garden historian, author and landscape consultant Sarah Couch, consultant on historic landscapes, conservation, horticulture and architecture Barbara Simms, course director, MA in Garden and Landscape History at the Institute of Historical Research Chris Sumner, architect and architectural and garden historian; worked for the former GLC and English Heritage 45
F E AT U R E By David Adshead
Hedging our bets: greening the grey in towns and cities The humble hedge has traditionally been sacrificed to the paved front garden but maybe now is the right time for a hedge revival
bidding war during last December’s General Election in the UK saw each of the main political parties pledge to plant very large numbers of trees.1 Sceptics queried how these ambitions could be realised, particularly given the reduction in government spending on tree planting over the last decade. The track record of independent, charitable organisations is better: The Woodland Trust has planted more than 47m trees since 1972, while The National Forest is close to reaching its target of 9m. Earlier this year The National Trust declared its intention to plant 20m trees in the next ten years; a credible ambition for it owns the land on which this might be done. But other events have since diverted the country’s attention and even the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, to have been hosted in Glasgow in what was heralded as ‘2020 Year of Climate Action’, has been postponed thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The planting of trees is a long-established stratagem to counter climate change and an important component in the race to achieve the government’s legally binding target of a net zero carbon economy by 2050. Given the stark statistic that global deforestation currently outstrips afforestation, it is imperative that the UK, one of the
least forested countries in Europe, sharpens its spade; the world needs to plant simply to stand still. But what else might be done? The recent news that underwater seagrass meadows can capture carbon dioxide (CO2 ) at a rate 35 times faster than that of rainforest trees highlights the need to think laterally and to counter the climate emergency on multiple fronts. So how can towns and cities contribute? While many of them
benefit from the amenity of green squares, parks and avenue trees, mostly laid out and planted in the 18th and 19th centuries, competition for space severely limits the number and size of trees, particularly forest trees, that can be grown within their bounds. Indeed, health and safety concerns and pressure from the insurance industry, nervous of falling boughs and heaving root systems, have in the last few decades led to the removal of
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1, 2, 3. Hedges at John Wesley’s house in City Road, London. © Paul Lincoln
Imagine a future in which thousands of miles of hedges snake along our roads, separating pedestrians and vehicles...
1 They ranged from 2 billion over the next 20 years (Labour), through 60m per annum until 2045, ie. 1.5 billion (Liberal Democrat), to 30m over the next four years (Conservative).
many large trees, ironically just at the point in their life cycle where they were most effectively sequestering carbon. With their loss and the benefits that attend them – biodiversity, shading, cooling through transpiration, reduction in flooding, prevention of soil erosion and amelioration of air pollution – we have pushed nature further out of town. The practice of planting smaller ornamental species in their stead – and replanting on a wasteful cycle every fifteen years or so – has further diminished the efficacy and amenity of our urban green infrastructure. What else might bolster our bio armoury in towns and cities? Enter the humble hedge. Conceived some 6,000 years ago in the service of agriculture, the hedge, made up of closely planted shrubs, offers many of the same benefits as the more majestic tree. We tend to notice great trees but pass by lines of hedges without giving them a second thought; by analogy, when asked to name the largest organ in the body many of us will too hastily answer ‘the brain’, but in size it is trumped by the skin. If planted at scale, urban hedges could make a very significant contribution. Imagine a future in which thousands of miles of hedges snake along our roads, separating pedestrians and vehicles, greening the grey and bringing a host of health benefits both to us and to the embattled systems that drive the natural world. This is not a new thought, so why has more not been achieved? What would encourage local authorities and local community groups to do more
and what might central government and other bodies do to remove barriers to action? There are already excellent resources online, ranging from the strategic to the practical, that help to point the way. There are the admirably clear documents published by ‘100 Resilient Cities’, a Rockefeller Foundation initiative designed to support the United Nations’ sustainable development goal (11) of making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The report ‘Building Resilience with Nature: A Practitioner’s Guide to Action’, published in November 2018 is particularly valuable, not only in its encouragement of the development of green infrastructure and the proper valuing of ecosystem services, but also in showing how awareness can be built, collaboration achieved and ‘pushback’ from officialdom countered. Academia has played its part too, publishing research reports that clearly demonstrate the ability of different shrub and tree species, when planted along the sides of roads, to trap ultrafine particulates and to remove carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide from the air. Hedgelink, a partnership organisation that recognises the wildlife, landscape, and cultural value of hedges, provides practical guidance on planting and management for farmers, landowners and their agents. Its work is part of the movement to reverse the wholesale removal of hedges (largely halted by the Hedgerows Regulations 1997) occasioned by the intensification of farming in the 20th century. But there is a gap. If change is to be effected at a societal level, a radically different approach needs to be taken in devising policies and
standards and translating them into practice. In this the landscape profession can play an important part, challenging longstanding norms and helping bodies such as the Department for Transport and local authority planning teams to reappraise what might be possible. Why, for example, can we not plant hedges along the pavement edge on all Red Routes (marked with double red lines), which in London at least represent 5% of the road system but carry up to 30% of its traffic and are, therefore, the most polluted? Roads marked with double yellow lines and which have broad enough pavements might then be looked at. And why can we not rethink the design of pedestrian crossings? The need for clear sightlines determines that vehicles cannot park on the zig-zag markings to either side of a crossing but planting along the pavement could help to signal the crossing points. Then there are miles of urban canals whose towpaths, often bounded by high walls that serve as canvasses for graffiti, offer potential planting sites. It would be all too easy to draw up a litany of objections, but with imagination, an appetite to ask the ‘why not’ questions, a collaborative spirit and grass roots community involvement and support that might establish an army of volunteer verderers, we could create and maintain valuable new greenways into and through our towns and cities. On every walk I take I see planting opportunities and ask myself ‘why not there, why not now?’ David Adshead is the Secretary of the Georgian Group 47
F E AT U R E By Mary Jackson
Bringing nature into school grounds Asphalt is the dominant material in many school grounds, but it doesn’t have to be that way
chool grounds make up a significant area of cities, with the average in the UK being over two hectares in size. They are spaces that children and young people spend large amounts of time in, spaces they learn from and play in, spaces that can bring communities together and spaces school pupils consider to be their own. We now know how important nature connection is for children and young people’s mental health yet many city schools still have asphalt-dominated grounds, whilst new schools are not required to have any school grounds at all.
For schools created in the 19th and 20th centuries sport and playground games were priorities and climate change had yet to take hold. In today’s schools, priorities have changed. As well as understanding the mental and physical health benefits of nature connection, more schools use their grounds for learning whilst naturebased play is rising in popularity and greater community use is being encouraged. They are places where complex scientific and mathematical problems can come alive through practical and hands-on lessons and where the arts can be taught creatively in an ever-changing environment. Yet
the design of school grounds often remains the same. And whilst it is true to say there are some excellent landscape architects designing creative, inspirational and nature-rich school environments, there are still far too many new city school grounds that are barren spaces, some with expansive areas of coloured asphalt or safety surfacing, or that incorporate large, expensive and low-value play or fitness structures, with few opportunities for pupils to experience the natural world. In the UK many primary and special schools are making moves towards more nature-friendly and consequently
SAN FRANCISCO 1. Sherman Elementary School, San Francisco has had a major transformation to its asphalt grounds. Like other schools in the city the objective is to bring the feel of a garden into the grounds.
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JAPAN 2. Yurikago Kindergarten, Japan provides children to explore challenging play within a natural environment. NATURAL PLAY IN SCOTLAND 3. At Caledonia Primary School, Glasgow they not only use the concrete tunnels as a jumping off point, but their nursery pupils became in internet sensation when they acted out ‘We’re all going on a bear hunt’ in Gaelic using their diverse school grounds. 4. Inspired by the work in Berlin, LtL worked with a number of Scottish schools, including Carmunnock Primary School, Glasgow, to create features formed from natural materials. © Malcolm Cochrane
more child-friendly grounds and new build primary schools often have elements in them that endeavour to support their use for play and learning. But is nature connection also central to designers’ thinking? The key to well-designed school grounds is asking the right people the right questions. Pupils, staff and the wider community, including parents and carers, should be at the heart of the consultation from the start and, whilst this is not always possible with new build projects, consulting those who will be the users should still be the aim. Without this consultation, and through not asking the right questions, we see designs that look great but with little consideration for how they will be used. For this reason Learning Through Landscapes (LtL) encourages school communities (including pupils) and designers to start by looking at where the school is now – what are the grounds like and how are they used? Only then can they ask, ‘What do you want pupils to DO in school grounds? What experiences do you want them to have?’. This emphasis is key, as asking what things they want to HAVE in their grounds can lead to expensive, underused elements being incorporated. We commonly hear from staff, parents and pupils
alike that the experiences they want for pupils include spending time in nature through lessons and play, growing plants, having daily contact with wildlife or just rolling in long grass, experiences that do not necessarily require large spending to create them. This progression to ‘greener’ grounds is slower in secondary schools. Maybe this is because secondary teachers don’t see the outdoors and its impact as a priority, perhaps it’s because they don’t have the overview across subjects that primary teachers do or maybe the challenge just seems too big. Mental health and wellbeing issues are particularly concerning in secondary schools, so introducing more nature into these spaces should be a priority, not just an added extra if the school is lucky. Secondary school grounds are generally larger than in primary schools so their potential for addressing climate change issues, including sustaining biodiversity, are greater too. This can help pupils discover how to make a practical difference themselves, as well as learning more about green careers – including landscape architecture. Around the globe the issues are the same. Children and young people living in cities are losing contact with nature and climate change is affecting
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BERLIN SCHOOL GROUNDS 5. Allowing nature to encroach into school grounds is a common feature in Berlin. Many play structures take uneven forms with sand as the safety surfacing, creating challenging play opportunities. 6. Water management at ReinhardswaldGrundschule becomes part of the landscape so that when it rains a new play feature is created as well as excess water managed.
everyone. ‘Greening’ school grounds is not new, but the manner and scale of how this is being achieved is changing and we can learn from these different approaches. Founder and CEO of Green Schoolyards America, Sharon Danks, refers to the low ecological value of many urban school grounds, contrasting these with ‘living schoolyards’ that incorporate gardens, trees and natural play areas. In Berlin Grün macht Schule has been addressing the problem of asphalt sites for over thirty years, with the result that more than 500 schools in the city have had their grounds transformed into nature-rich spaces, perfect for play, learning and just spending time. At Learning through Landscapes we are celebrating our 30th anniversary as a charity with a vision of school grounds designed, used and managed to their full potential for the benefit of children and young people. LI Past President, Merrick Denton-Thompson’s own freerange childhood experiences inspired the establishment of LtL and over the years we have supported schools and those who work with them to make the best of their grounds. We produce resources, guidance documents and training for educators and designers, we work with partners on research and through projects, and have leveraged £30million into school grounds. Yet, we are still at a point where school grounds are not a requirement for new schools, where grounds have less protection from being sold off than in the past 50
and are the first to have their building budgets cut. It is 10 years since LtL hosted an international school grounds conference that was the forerunner to the International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA) being established and a series of international conferences. In 2020 the ISGA returns to the UK, this time to Scotland. From 24th to 26th September designers, educationalists, researchers, artists and environmentalist will gather in Stirling for three days of conference, focusing on meeting the challenges of school grounds. As part of the conference there will be a specific design stream with landscape architects from Germany, Canada, Ethiopia, Brazil, Bangladesh and the UK presenting their work. Topics will include participatory design, climate resilience, design for play, designing for children with additional needs and designing for different climates. But it is not just landscape architects that will inspire. For example, a group of students from Christchurch, New Zealand, will be sharing their experience of having no school building following the 2011 earthquake and how this influenced their new school design, whilst we will also be hearing from educators from South America who take learning out into the rainforest. The youth of today are showing their passion for the environment and are making their voices heard. This makes it the perfect time to take a
fresh look at school grounds in the UK and how they should be designed for the 21st century. Piecemeal changes are not enough, and new schools should have nature-filled grounds that truly meet the needs of the communities they serve. Realistic budgets for new-build grounds will have the greatest immediate effect, and we need to keep fighting for this funding, but bringing nature into schools’ outdoor spaces is not always expensive. In a recent LtL project to encourage pollinators into school grounds, more than 250 schools spent on average just £800 transforming their grounds with growing areas, wildflower meadows, orchards and a range of other habitats. Designing these types of features into school fields and playgrounds, or just changing maintenance regimes, does not mean expensive additions are required but can significantly add to the quality of school grounds bringing nature closer to children and young people who live in cities.
Mary Jackson is Head of Education and Communities at Learning through Landscapes. LtL is hosting the 2021 International School Grounds Conference on 23rd, 24th & 25th September 2021. For more details and up-to- date information visit https://www.ltl.org.uk/projects/ isga2021/
F E AT U R E By Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto
Designing the urban microbiome 1
1. ecoLogicStudio, PhotoSynthetica Tower, 2019. © Vyonix
It is timely in the Anthropocene, and even more so in the age of a global pandemic, to search for a non-anthropocentric mode of reasoning, and consequently also of designing. The Photosynthetica Consortium, established in 2018 and including London-based design innovation practice ecoLogicStudio, the Urban Morphogenesis Lab (Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London (UCL)) and the Synthetic Landscape Lab (University of Innsbruck, Austria), has therefore been pursuing architecture as a research-based practice. This Consortium has been exploring the interdependence of human and biological intelligence in design, by working directly with non-human living organisms.
D 1 1. Timothy Morton, Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence, Columbia University Press (New York), 2016, and Ecology Without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics, Harvard University Press (Boston, MA), 2007. 2 See the Urbansphere, doctoral thesis by Marco Poletto http:// researchbank.rmit.edu. au/view/rmit:162673
ark Ecology1. The current rush of many cities to develop blue-green plans dealing with future threats of climate change is a testament to the obsession of searching for ‘true’ answers within a problem-solving framework. The experience in practice illustrated in this article highlights the urgent need for a new design method capable of engaging the systemic nature of urban landscapes and their architecture. Architects and planners often rely on a ‘sanitised’ and therefore highly aestheticised vision of the world’s eco
systems, exemplified by the very notion of blue-green planning and its focus on regreening cities. This notion may be one of the most enduring aspects we have inherited from modernity. And if bacteriological control was at the origin of its sanitation efforts, modern architecture and urban design turned it into a style; in other words, modernity did embed sanitation into an aesthetic value system. The contemporary paradigms of green cities and smart cities are the direct consequence of the evolution of that value system. However, urban systems today are non-linear and composed of billions
of interlocking feedback loops forming what the authors call the Urbansphere2. Waste production, pollution emission, contamination, decay and dissolution are some of the most intense processes within the Urbansphere and a critical part of its contemporary metabolism. These processes often constitute the dark side of urban ecology, a side that is often invisible to the human eye, one that is confined to restricted zones of our cities or exported to poorer regions of the world. Most significantly, it is erased from the consciousness of most urban dwellers, at least in the developed world. 51
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2, 3. ecoLogicStudio, HORTUS XL Astaxanthin.g, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2019. © NAARO
4. ecoLogicStudio, HORTUS XL Astaxanthin.g, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2019. © Kioku Keizo
5. ecoLogicStudio, PhotoSynthetica Tower, 2019. Image © Vyonix
6. ecoLogicStudio, PhotoSynthetica, Dublin, 2018. © NAARO
Microbiological landscapes Reassessing the dark side of urban ecology implies bringing into focus a new aesthetic of nature and, as a consequence, of the urban landscape. This new aesthetic of nature projects the design practice into the realm of micro-organisms such as virus, bacteria and fungi. These creatures induce fear because their tactics often elude our comprehension; however their collective behaviours endowed them with exceptional properties. For example they are capable of turning what we consider waste and pollution into nutrients and raw material. From this perspective, ecoLogicStudio’s biodigital architectures promote a new urban aesthetic centred on a novel appreciation for the microscale of bacteria, as well as other forms of non-human intelligence. Within ecoLogicStudio’s body of work the cultivation of these organisms becomes an act of ‘culturalisation’3, thus entering the realm of architecture. A notable example is ecoLogicStudio’s ‘H.O.R.T.U.S.’ series, begun in 2012 and currently ongoing. H.O.R.T.U.S., the Latin term for garden, here works as an acronym for Hydro Organism Responsive To Urban Stimuli. It refers to a series of photosynthetic sculptures and urban structures that create artificial habitats for cyanobacteria integrated in the built environment. Within H.O.R.T.U.S., cyanobacteria are deployed not only as photosynthetic machines but also 52
to absorb emissions from building systems. They constitute a new active layer part of both urban and natural metabolic cycles, thus reconnecting the so-called green and dark sides of urban ecology. It is a new kind of architectural symbiosis. The Photo.Synth.Etica venture. This symbiotic relationship has been explored in a recent project unveiled in Tokyo in November 2019, at the Mori Art Museum. Suspended at the 53rd floor of the Mori Tower and with the backdrop of Tokyo’s urban sprawl, the sculpture materialises its urban dimension as a new prototype of living architecture, the PhotoSynthetica Tower. Explored through a series of associated speculative images, the project unfolds the architectural implications of H.O.R.T.U.S. as the embodiment of Tokyo’s evolution into a future powerhouse of biodigital culture and technology. At the city scale it appears as a complex synthetic organism in which bacteria, autonomous farming machines and other forms of animal intelligence become, alongside humans, biocitizens thus contributing to the formation and transformation of Tokyo’s own synthetic urban landscape. The biomass that grows in all the active areas of the tower is made available to the occupants of the building itself. This constant supply enables a plethora of emerging industries that will define the programmatic mix of the building itself
3 Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto, Culturalizing the Microbiota, Routledge 2019
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7. ecoLogicStudio, PhotoSynthetica, Helsinki, 2019. © Tuomas Uusheimo
8. ecoLogicStudio, PhotoSynthetica, Dublin, 2018. © NAARO
9, 10, 11. ecoLogicStudio, Bio.Tech Hut, Astana, 2017. © NAARO
ecoLogicStudio’s biodigital architectures promote a new urban aesthetic centred on a novel appreciation for the microscale of bacteria...
4 https://www. photosynthetica.co.uk/ system
and its occupational patterns (the times in the day and the night when each building unit is either empty or occupied with one or more activity), both in the case of human and nonhuman inhabitants. Biodigital research units, gardening centres, wildlife observation terraces, self-sufficient dwellings and a potentially infinite variety of other programmatic combinations will be supported by the continuous catalytic action of the tower. It will constantly remetabolise anthropic pollution as well as biotic contamination into local circular economies of raw materials, data and energy. In order to promote the evolution of this concept the authors have recently launched the PhotoSynthetica Venture, a transdisciplinary design-innovation project. The first PhotoSynthetica demonstrator was unveiled in November 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. 32 metres long and 7 metres high, it took the form of an “urban curtain” and was commissioned by the Climate-KIC, EU’s most prominent climate innovation initiative. The photosynthetic building membrane captured CO2 from the atmosphere and stored it in real time at a rate of approximately one kilo of CO2 per day, equivalent to that of 20 large trees. The innovative building technology achieves this through the integration of three layers of functionality4 : – Wetware: the selection and manage ment of the living microalgae cultures – Software: the digital management system. It uses sensors to optimise performance in real time. It also provides long-term projections and predictions of the system’s carbon
capturing and air cleaning abilities – Hardware: the artificial habitat for cultivation of living cultures, or photobioreactor. The project combines digital design and fabrication technologies to optimise aesthetic qualities, environmental performances and architectural integration Conclusion PhotoSynthetica hopes to actualise significant economic, social, environmental and health benefits once it can be scaled up. The project embodies the multigenerational long-term benefits of adopting a carbon absorbing technology now, as it is 10 times more efficient at carbon sequestration than any other naturebased green technology. The pandemic that is currently engulfing the world is a direct manifestation of the disbalance within the Urbansphere. While chronic exposure to air pollution affects our lungs and weakens our immune system, unsustainable food supply chains and practices are now and will continue to vector more and more pathogens within our bodies. This scenario calls for a broader systemic approach to urban development as well as for longtermism in any design approach. Our design practice seeks to enable both. Cyanobacteria from this perspective emerge from the urban microbiome to become a powerful design medium.
Marco Poletto is an architect, educator and innovator based in London. He is co-founder and Director of the architectural practice ecoLogicStudio and the design innovation venture PhotoSynthetica, focussed on developing architectural solutions to fight Climate Change. Marco holds a PhD Degree from RMIT University, Melbourne. Claudia Pasquero is Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Innsbruck and director of the Urban Morphogenesis Lab at the Bartlett, UCL. She is co-founder and Director of the architectural practice ecoLogicStudio and holds a PhD Degree from the Estonia Academy of Arts, Tallinn.
C L I M AT E E M E R G E N C Y B R I E F I N G By Brian M Evans
Can COP26 cope with climate and COVID-19? Climate change presents a tangible environmental problem, it is not the only one, and it won’t be the last. ... We’d better practise our global governance because we might need to respond to something ... on a far shorter timescale. What exactly? That’s the point: we don’t know yet.2
Well we do now! When drafting the article for the previous edition of Landscape,3 and considering the alignment of thinking between the UN, UK & Scottish Governments, and Glasgow City, a small still voice at the back of my mind posed the rhetorical question “what could possibly go wrong” and, contemplating the alchemy of international affairs, I recalled the phrase (it appears now misattributed) of Harold McMillan: “Events, dear boy, events”. I confess, I had nothing specific in mind beyond the caprice of international leaders, terrorism, extreme weather events and an awareness that China and Asian countries were facing a new SARS virus. The copy was sent off on 27th 1
January, two days before the first confirmed case in the UK. By the time the piece appeared in print, the UK, and half the world, was in lockdown. COP26 was postponed until summer 2021, along with the Tokyo Olympics and almost everything else. This is a cruel and severe pandemic with an omnipresent shadow of grief, stress, worry and fear. We lament those lost, carry in our hearts those in front line services and watch in disbelief as many – who should have known better – recalibrate their view of who matters in society. Occupations, whose value the readers of this journal will never have doubted. As lockdown wears on what are we learning? And specifically, what are we learning for landscape and urban design? We have learned that some people have just realised the importance of parks and greenspace in cities, especially in areas of high density where balconies are also important since some people don’t have gardens. Because guess what, these assets are important for people’s health. Who knew? By the time you read this, it will be old news that the redistribution of road space (called for over many decades by landscape architects, urban designers and urbanists) has
come to pass by the magical device of the TTRO (temporary traffic regulation order), as local authorities across the UK are liberated from, or compelled by, Government to make more space available for social distancing to enable a gradual release from lockdown, following the lead of cities such as Milan and Paris. There is a wide-ranging conversation to be had about the parameters of what any ‘new normal’ should be. As I write, the Scottish Government has published a plain English document to begin what First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has referred to as an ‘adult conversation’ with the people of Scotland.4 From this and other emerging Government papers and media commentary, we may expect a discourse around the interrelated concerns of public health; an inclusive economy; place and community and a low-carbon society. Resilience will be a central and cross-cutting theme likely addressed in three phases – a slow, short-term transition extending social distancing and shielding with an examination of what this means for the adaptation and management of public space; a structural transition through the mid-term with a (probably severe) recession when
1. City skyline before and during coronavirus lockdown. © USA TODAY/Reuters
When we see the Earth from space, we see ourselves as a whole … one planet, one human race.1
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2 2. Nitrogen dioxide concentrations over Europe in 2019 and 2020. © ESA
designers will be asked to consider the role of community and place in the restructuring; and a longer term transition to an inclusive net zero carbon economy with an imagined reality of how future places will look and function and what conditions will need to be put in place to achieve this.5 Strategically, and thanks to agencies such as the ESA and NASA, the causal relationship between industrial activity, air pollution and climate change has become all too clear – quite literally.6 Furthermore, 1 2018 message from Stephen Hawking re-broadcast by the European Space Agency to mark Earth DAY 2020. Full Story available at http://www.esa.int/ esearch?q=ESA+Earth+Day+Stephen+Hawking, Accessed 25April2020
Berners-Lee, M., There is no Planet ‘B’, Cambridge University Press, 2019, p3 (Berners-Lee’s book is an excellent porimer. He was hinting at the pandemic risk). 2
3 Evans, B.M. ‘Glasgow 2020 – a fair COP?”, in Lincoln, P. (ed) Landscape, Issue 2, 2020 4 Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making, https://www.gov.scot/publications/ coronavirus-covid-19-framework-decision-making/, Accessed 25April2020
Early discussions with a number of parties including the Scottish Futures Trust, Sustrans, the Scottish Government Improvement service and the Academy of Urbanism: https://www.scottishfuturestrust. org.uk, https://sustrans.org.uk, https://www. improvementservice.org.uk, https://www. academyofurbanism.org.uk
initial medical evidence suggests that the severity of coronavirus, particularly the likelihood of death, is directly linked to higher levels of air pollution.7 This coincidence of challenges is not new. In the modern era, thinkers and polemicists like Geddes, Carson, McHarg, Lovelock and Attenborough have been informing, encouraging, exhorting – telling us for generations to make a difference. Now, however, the evidence of the causal links is undeniable and there is finally a growing realisation that we can no longer ‘grow’ our way out of these challenges through technological innovation, economic growth and novel means of resource exploitation. There are just too many of us. In the Anthropocene, humanity is swarming the earth.8 Perhaps we need a ‘climate clock’ or ‘human species clock’ which, like the ‘nuclear clock’ of the 60s, 70s and 80s is set perpetually at a minute to midnight. We have a globally interconnected challenge now seen in high contrast as a result of the coronavirus 6 European Space Agency Available at http://www.esa. int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus/ Sentinel-5P/Air_pollution_remains_low_as_ Europeans_stay_at_home, Accessed 25April2020 7 See for example the New York Times ( https:// www.nytimes.com/2020/04/07/climate/airpollution-coronavirus-covid.html https://www. nytimes.com/2020/04/07/climate/air-pollutioncoronavirus-covid.html ) and The Guardian ( https:// www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/17/ air-pollution-likely-to-increase-coronavirus-death-ratewarn-experts ) Accessed 25April2020 8 Evans, B.M. “Empower people to co-design place”, keynote address to People – Place – Power, Solace Scotland Conference, (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives), Glasgow September 2019. 9 The cocktail of climatic, socio-demographic (ageing, low fertility, migration, health) and technological (automation, augmented reality and artificial intelligence) change that encapsulates the spirit of our times. Evans, Landscape, 2020 Op cit. See for
pandemic. Better ways of thinking economics, ecology, ‘connexity’ and design are needed. Hope and an extensive literature predicated on the interconnectedness of planet, humanity and ecosphere are driving policy nationally and internationally … where enlightenment shines.9 A group of UN agencies has begun a mid-pandemic review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development under the working title “build back better”.10 Given the pace of the work for those of us involved in the supporting international expert panels working together over online platforms, we might expect this work to be a building block for the UN agenda for 2021. Will COP26 go ahead next year? Will it cope with COVID? It has to. There is a renewed sense of urgency and determination. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) had planned a November meeting in Glasgow to coincide with COP26 as originally planned. They will proceed and expand the planned discussion to embrace the interaction of health and climate. If by then it is not possible to undertake the meeting face-to-face, it will be done online with the Forum of Mayors and with the City of Glasgow. That may even be better. As Hawking said in his final 2018 message: “Be brave, be determined, overcome the odds. It can be done!” 11 Brian M Evans City Urbanist\Glasgow Professor of Urbanism & Landscape at the Glasgow School of Art. example: Mariana Mazzucato, The value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy; Kate Rayworth, Doughnut Economics; Simon Lewis & Mark Maslin, The Human Planet: How we created the Anthropocene; Mike Berners-Lee, There is NO Planet B; Danny Dorling & Kirsten McClure, Slowdown: The end of the great acceleration and why its good for the planet, the economy, and our lives ... and many others. Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Available at https:// sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/ transformingourworld/publication, Accessed 25April2020. The agencies involved in the review work are UN-Habitat, UN-DESA (Department of Economic and `Social Affairs); UNECE (Economic Commission for Europe), UNESCAP (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), UNODC (Office on Drugs and Crime) supported by international expert panels.
Stephen Hawking, Op cit.
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
Climate change resources – nature in the city As part of a regular series, Claire Thirlwall explores tools and guidance available to help professional understanding of this issue’s theme
Superilles, (Superblocks) Barcelona Like many cities Barcelona has a street layout that has become dominated by cars, with the associated high level of pollution and background noise. The city centre has a scarcity of open space, low pedestrian usage and few opportunities for residents to access nature.
areas and play space. With the busy intersections removed the area at the centre of each junction becomes an open space, demarcated by large tree and shrub planters. The redesign has reduced traffic by 83%, increased pedestrian use by 28% and reduced noise levels, as well as reducing traffic accidents and reducing the urban heat island effect.2 It will be interesting to see if similar ideas are adopted in the UK, given the changes mentioned in the article on page 15.
1. Aerial view of Barcelona Eixample residencial district, Sagrada familia, typical urban squares. © Shutterstock
2. Black routes allow public transport and cars at 50km/h, while green routes only allow private vehicles at 10km/h to prioritise pedestrians and cycling. © BCNecologia1
3. Some of the streets of Barcelona have been closed to the traffic and transformed in social places where people can meet, that are called “Superilles”. © Shutterstock
In 2017, using the concepts already being used in other Spanish cities, a series of superilles or superblocks were created. Typically, 4 x 440m in size and encompassing nine city blocks, each superblock uses a system of one-way streets and a 10km per hour speed limit to deter
through traffic and to give priority to cyclists and pedestrians. Each block is bounded by through routes for public transport and cars, with only local residents allowed to use the roads within the block. The freed-up space is used to create dedicated cycle lanes, seating
1 ‘Cómo Barcelona está quitándoles las calles a los coches | BCNecologia’, <http://www.bcnecologia.net/es/prensa/como-barcelona-estaquitandoles-las-calles-los-coches> [accessed 21 April 2020]. 2
N Mueller et al., ‘Changing the urban design of cities for health: The superblock model’, in Environment International, vol. 134, 2020, 105132.
4. Urban farm – growing vegetables on the roof of urban buildings.
UN Habitat report – Urban patterns for a green economy – working with nature
Written in 2012 this UN Habitat report provides a useful reminder of the potential positive benefits of cities, and how they can be an effective way to manage resources, “The city is one of the highest pinnacles of human creation. Concentrating so many people in dense, interactive, shared spaces has historically provided distinct advantages, that is, agglomeration advantages. Through agglomeration, cities have the power to innovate, generate wealth, enhance quality of
5. Mapping from the city of Lyon showing open spaces, showing green spaces.3
life and accommodate more people within a smaller footprint at lower per capita resource use and emissions than any other settlement pattern.4” The report includes case studies from different countries and cultures, including South Africa, Croatia, the Philippines and Tanzania. Topics covered include urban agriculture, watershed management and the ecological benefits of parks.
The report makes important points about the potential value of cities for nature: “Cities are often located in biodiversity hotspots, for example estuaries, coastlines, ecotones and fertile plains. If they are well managed, cities can support biodiversity in the following ways: – Cities act as refuges for species whose habitats have been destroyed by intensive agriculture and forestry – Cities are socio-ecological systems where new habitats and species communities can develop; and – Urban green areas provide cities with ecosystem services that cannot be imported, for example noise reduction, absorption of air and water pollutants5”
Urban patterns for a green economy, S Grobbelaar & United Nations Human Settlements Programme (eds), Nairobi, United Nations Human Settlements Programme, 2012, , p. iii.
Grobbelaar and United Nations Human Settlements Programme, p. 6.
Lyon Lieux at Parcours frais (Fresh Places and Routes) – using green spaces to provide public health resilience
With the predicted changes in our climate, cities can expect to experience more frequent heatwaves. As part of the city of Lyon’s Energy Climate Plan public green spaces have been mapped, allowing residents to find their nearest shady open space. As well as green spaces the city’s interactive website shows water points and free-to-access public buildings, providing a network of 600 city wide sites that can be used as a refuge in a heatwave. The scheme is a useful reminder of the practical public health value of open space. 3 ‘Lieux et Parcours frais’, <http://cartes.lyon.fr/adws/ app/6f9b75c7-54cc-11e7-b18b-69f829fb2e01/index.html> [accessed 11 March 2020].
Derbyshire Street Pocket Park, London Derbyshire Street Pocket in Bethnal Green is a great example of how small, incidental and overlooked spaces can be used to provide climate change resilience and bring nature into the city. This dead-end space for 12 cars next to Oxford House community and arts centre was transformed into a pocket park and outdoor café space. The site was also opened up to adjacent streets to become an important thoroughfare for cyclists and pedestrians. Using permeable paving and attenuation planters the pocket park diverts rainwater away from the sewer system, reducing the need for irrigation. New green-roofed cycle racks and seating were included in the design around a central rain garden channel. The bike shelters and bin stores include habitat
panels that provide nesting sites for bees, insects and birds and the planting schemes include nectar rich native planting. To reduce the environmental impact, materials including granite setts and crushed concrete were reused. The scheme was a collaboration between Greysmith Associates, Tower Hamlets Council, Thames Water Utilities and Oxford House, and won the Design for a SmallScale Development Landscape Institute Award in 2015.
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. 57
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As Adam White steps down as Landscape Institute President, he looks back on two action-packed years
wo years ago, long before mass gatherings were prohibited, I took over from Merrick Denton-Thompson as President of the LI at a packed ceremony in the Garden Museum in London. Six-metre birch, field maple and small-leaved lime trees and 300 woodland perennial plants transformed the venue into a scene from my favourite childhood book, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. In front of 250 guests, I set out my mission as President: to celebrate
the science behind ecotherapy; to strengthen ties across the landscape sector; to explore the profession’s response to biosecurity issues and the climate crisis; and to launch a new careers campaign.
The science behind nature I often talk about nature deficit disorder: the physical and mental problems that arise when people, especially children, spend little or no time outdoors in natural environments. I was delighted to welcome Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix, to speak at the LI Awards in 2018.
Building collaboration I believe strongly in people, place and nature - three words that now inform the core values at the LI. One of my priorities was to promote crossindustry collaboration and the need to raise awareness of plant health and biosecurity risks. We launched the LI Biosecurity toolkit, developed by the LI’s Plant Health and Biosecurity Working Group in partnership with SGD, BALI and APL. A special highlight was hosting events for the Landscape Institute’s 90th birthday. It was a huge honour
1. Sir David Attenborough at the 2019 Landscape Institute Awards, where he received the LI Medal for Lifetime Achievement. © Nick Harrison
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2. The RHS Back to Nature garden was designed by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge together with Davies White Landscape Architects. The Garden was visited by Her Majesty the Queen during the Chelsea Flower Show 2019. © RHS
3. IFLA World Congress Singapore showcased the work of the Landscape Institute. © IFLA
to take the LI back to RHS Chelsea, where it was founded in 1929. It was at RHS Chelsea that I co-designed the RHS Back to Nature garden with my business partner Andrée Davies and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge. The Back to Nature Gardens reached an audience of millions and highlighted the importance of nature for everyone, especially children.
#ChooseLandscape I have always been keen to inspire the next generation to choose a career in landscape. This came in the form of Choose Landscape, a campaign created to promote the range of career choices and opportunities in the landscape profession. Since I launched Choose Landscape in 2018 it has gone global and been embraced by over 25 countries. I am also delighted that the LI will be launching the Landscape Apprenticeship programme later in the year.
the World Urban Parks Congress in Kazan, Russia, the IFLA 2019 World Congress in Singapore, the Paysalia Conference in Lyon, France and, until COVID-19 came along, I was due to open the IFLA 2020 World Congress in Malaysia. The IFLA World Congress is the world’s largest gathering of landscape professionals and it has been a real honour representing the profession on such a huge stage. In September 2019 I was invited to have dinner with Al Gore. Along with a number of industry leaders we discussed the challenges that lay ahead for the planet over the next ten years and I explained the work the landscape profession is doing in the UK and how I believe a collaborative
approach is a huge part of the solution. Stand out award winners during my Presidency include What’s Growing on the Greenway, a project that won both Communications and Presentation Award and the LI President’s Award. Another memorable winner was Beech Gardens, Barbican Estate by Nigel Dunnett and Landscape Agency, winning the inaugural Planting Design Award and the College of Fellows Award in 2018. There have been some fantastic highlights. These include the collaboration with Andrée and the Duchess of Cambridge, but nothing tops getting to know Sir David Attenborough and having him accept our invitation to the LI Awards in
Partnerships I have always been keen to inspire the next generation to choose a career in landscape.
Earlier in the year I reached out on the LI’s behalf to strengthen our existing relationship with the Architects Benevolent Society (ABS) and form a new partnership with Perennial. Both organisations provide practical, financial and emotional support for those working within our sector. I was honoured to give the opening speech of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of Ian McHarg’s book Design with Nature: A Celebration of Influence and Legacy, at Edinburgh College of Art. This seminal text by McHarg ‘Design with Nature’ has had a huge impact on the profession of landscape architecture, shifting its focus from more of an aesthetic towards a large-scale ecological approach. Back in 2018, the LI ran a competition in partnership with NHS England and Ebbsfleet Development Corporation to find the most creative ideas to help shape the landscape of Ebbsfleet, the first Garden City of the 21st century. We were unanimous in selecting the winner: HALO developed by Bradley Murphy Design. One of my ambitions as President was to raise the profile of the UK profession globally. I was delighted to be a keynote speaker at the IFLA 2018 World Congress in Singapore,
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4. Hal Moggride cutting the cake to celebrate the LI’s 90th Birthday. © Nick Harrison
5. Guest of honour Alan Titchmarsh at the LI’s 90th birthday. © Nick Harrison
6. Adam White at the IFLA World Congress in Oslo.
7. The Back to Nature Garden received global publicity including this piece in Hallo magazine. © Hallo magazine
8. Royal visitors at the Chelsea Flower Show.
9. Celebrating the LI’s 90th Birthday at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. © Nick Harrison
10. Presenting Choose Landscape at the IFLA World Congress. © IFLA
11. Nigel Dunnett, winner of the Fellows Award 2018 for Beech Gardens with presenter Arit Anderson and host Ebs Akintade.
© Nick Harrison
2019. I was delighted that I was able to present him with a LI ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award and make him an Honorary member of the LI. A major part of my presidency was making sure we equip members with the skills they need. This is more relevant than ever as we adapt to the challenges of COVID-19. In April 2019 I was thrilled to launch LI Campus – the first dedicated online learning hub of its kind for the landscape sector. Although COVID-19 has hijacked 2020, we must not ignore the fact that we are still facing the climate and biodiversity emergency. Climate change and COVID-19 are two very different challenges, but they have some key things in common; they are global, they do not respect national boundaries and they demand that countries work together to find solutions. When we work together, even small personal 60
actions, like physical distancing, can make a big difference. Last month I launched the LI Climate and Biodiversity Action Plan and made the commitment that the LI will be net zero by our centenary year 2029. We now have a commitment to offsetting all international travel and ensuring that as many of our meetings as possible take place online. It is vital that when we look back and celebrate 100 years, we are certain that our actions have worked to safeguard life of all kinds on this planet – not just for now, but for the future too. Landscape professionals are uniquely positioned to tackle this crisis head on. For years we’ve worked with nature, designed green infrastructure, and enhanced communities, respecting the past while thinking of the future. We have the power to design, plan and manage resilient places and restore natural
habitats – and be low carbon when we do so. Being President has been a once in lifetime experience, I definitely took my Dad’s advice and seized every opportunity that came my way. He once said, ‘It’s not what you say, it’s not what you do, it’s how you make people feel.’ I do hope I have inspired those that I have worked with to keep talking and collaborating, sharing best practice and inspiring the next generation to choose a career in landscape. It is a shame that my final four months as President have been restricted to Zoom and WebEx. I was looking forward to continuing my travels across the UK to speak at events. In the meantime, thank you to all those that have supported me, and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Jane Findlay the very best of luck as the new incoming President.
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Birmingham-based landscape architect Jane Findlay becomes president of the Landscape Institute in July 2020. Here she outlines her vision for this important role and calls for landscape professionals to step up and reimagine the urban habitat Challenges
1 What do the latest official sub-national population projections suggest for Great Britain’s 63 cities? Foresight, Government Office for Science September 2015
Whether city, suburban or rural, today’s construction challenges are highly complex. Matters of flood alleviation, carbon reduction, rising populations, tensions between public and private modes of transport, the juxtaposition of community and commerce, and, of course, economic viability. This is the domain of the landscape professional. As I write this, we are in week eight of the lockdown. Never more than now we, as designers of towns and cities, have to face the tension between creating dense and efficient places for people to live in, seen as essential to improving environmental sustainability, and the separating out of populations which is one of the key tools being used to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. I suggest that this is the call for landscape professionals to step up and reimagine the urban habitat. Landscape design must be underpinned by the pillars of health and nature. We cannot position people at the heart of ‘place’ without accepting the very fundamental forces that shape our daily experience of the
world around us. And yet health and nature – by which we mean the natural world, climate, ecology – are not absolutes; they are infinitely varied and ceaselessly changing. How then, as landscape architects, architects, planners, engineers, developers, clients, or policy-makers should we tackle this challenge; to create tangible, durable, economically viable structures and spaces that will stand the test of time, without losing touch with the perpetually shifting pillars of health and nature? As landscape professionals, we use our creativity and technical competence to bring forward solutions. Every project is different. From concept to completion, our teams create schemes that contribute positively to their natural surroundings and the experience of those inhabiting the space whilst delivering value for the lifetime of the project. In fact, this is one of my professional principles: designing healthy places for people. It’s not just a nice idea. It’s an achievable reality. The pursuit of balance between people, place and nature will gain even greater significance, as our populations continue to grow. This will be felt most
keenly in our cities. Living, working, visiting, studying; the daily pulse of our cities faces even greater pressure in the next twenty years. Government research1 predicts that by 2036, the UK’s 63 cities will contain 17.7% more people than in 2011. Together we face challenges of stressed infrastructure, pollution, a changing climate, and our evolving healthcare needs, together with an ageing population, obesity and other physical and mental health issues. Technology will create opportunities that we cannot even conceive of today. Growing evidence of the health benefits derived from access to quality green spaces will see greener architecture as the norm in a biophilic landscape, responding to our need to feel connected with each other and with nature. Natural air conditioning, the green oasis, sustainable transport corridors; it is now essential that we make space for nature in our towns and cities. Every project makes its contribution. Each scheme adds to, not dilutes, the environmental value of our landscape. There has never been a time when our expertise and creativity will be as highly valued, as the 61
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Career highlights – Education Leeds Beckett University (Leeds Polytechnic) undergraduate and postgraduate – Merseyside County Council – year out – Percy Thomas Partnership and PTP Landscape – landscape architect to director in 1995. – Fira – In 1997 PTP Landscape amicably separated from PTP to become Fira under the guidance of Jane Findlay and Sue Radley who are the founding directors
1. Competition sweet pea growing on Jane Findlay’s allotment.
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.
Relevance of the profession In the past, landscape was often marginalised in development decisions. Gradually practices and policies are changing and the importance of outdoor space and how it contributes to successful placemaking is increasingly acknowledged by policy makers and clients (and now by the wider public). I believe that landscape should be at the centre of creating, regenerating and conserving urban and rural environments. We have to engage with policy and decision makers to ensure landscape is at the top of the environmental agenda as a ‘must have’ and not be viewed as ‘a nice to have’. As a profession we need to be relevant and visible, highly skilled, creative and trusted to ensure that we can compete with and complement other construction and property professionals. Our universities need to produce graduates who are confident in working alongside other professions, can ensure that landscape, parks and places – from 62
design through to planning, construction and long-term management are prime considerations and are able to work to solve real-world problems.
Diversity in the profession We are fortunate to work in a broad profession that attracts people from many walks of life. However, we are not representative of all the communities that we serve. We need to be a profession that gives a home to BAME groups, people with disabilities, LGBT+ and those from different socioeconomic groups. The gender balance of those at the start of their careers has always been even and today there are more women entering the profession than ever before. However, there’s still a long way to go before women are represented equally at the most senior levels as practice principals and business owners. We need to provide the opportunity to study, the chance to progress and the promise of good careers in our communities. Although the LI’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group has been working for the past four years to tackle the profession’s lack of diversity, this is work that must now accelerate. It seems that the same issues that have prevented women and other
disadvantaged groups from reaching their potential in the past remain the same. However, if we want to see a difference, we have to make a difference. At a strategic level the Landscape Institute must actively promote a profession that is balanced, diverse and inclusive, so we nurture all those who have traditionally been excluded or discouraged from aspiring to a career in the built environment sector, as well as supporting them in ‘mid-career’ and at principal level. As individuals, here are some of the small things we can all do to make a difference: – Be a role model. Help others to realise that you don’t have to be perfect to be successful – Become a mentor. Help a colleague or another practitioner to navigate their own course: give them the benefit of your experience without assuming that they will necessarily make the same mistakes you did or need the same solutions – Take a risk. Stand up for yourself: promote an unusual idea and be prepared to argue its benefits. Support others who are prepared to challenge orthodoxy – Join and support the LI’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group which campaigns to broaden access to the profession
It is the most wonderful combination of arts, science and technology; few professions offer such stimulating and challenging opportunities to make your mark on the world around you.
F E AT U R E
Jane Findlay’s favourite landscapes
St Martins, Isle of Scilly – the best beaches in the world and a place to escape to. © Jane Findlay
Chester – the city I’m most at home in, close to where I come from of course!
Doubtful Sound, South Island New Zeala nd – a most spectacular and remote place .
Kiln Woodland – our ancient woodland near the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, with resident badgers and dormice. © Jane Findlay
Snowdonia – for walking.
F E AT U R E
Digital issues for success Adopting new technologies is transforming how landscape practices work and what they deliver. The way many of our organisations operate has changed significantly. The way that we present our designs to clients is changing as mixed, augmented and virtual reality brings public realm to life. The unprecedented move to home working this year only serves to highlight the need to invest in digital technologies and skills to become resilient in a fast-changing world. One of the biggest challenges facing landscape practices wanting to transform into a digital business is a lack of skills. Skills result from education and training; digital skills can make students instantly employable.
How to encourage young people to join the profession I love being a landscape practitioner and, if I had my time again, I would still choose to study landscape architecture. It is the most wonderful combination of arts, science and technology; few professions offer such stimulating and challenging opportunities to make your mark on the world around you. Our sector still struggles to recruit skilled and talented people for their businesses. Building the profile and the relevance of landscape architecture is essential to be successful in attracting the next generation of students to landscape courses. The competition to attract students onto the thousands of different university courses is fierce. We need to raise our voice, influence and attractiveness as a sector to attract the best and the brightest. The commitment of the next generation to fighting climate change; health and wellbeing; and environmental issues is an opportunity for us now. My practice was once described at being Birmingham’s best kept secret. It was meant as a compliment, but we didn’t take it that way, we took immediate steps to raise our profile and subsequently changed the perception of the company. If we are going to solve the issue of attracting young people into our profession, we need to take a more proactive attitude to developing our professional profile. 64
I suggest that we identify and develop ‘Landscape Champions’, role models and leaders who will be the faces and voices of our profession to promote and extol the virtues and relevance of our profession at all levels: – Government, by educating our policy makers – Spokespeople who can represent the profession to the press, at conferences and on TV – Becoming social media stars – Giving talks to students in other construction professions. I’ve been approached by many student architects whose eventual choice of profession have been positively influenced by one of my talks about landscape architecture We all have to do ‘our bit’; we don’t all have to be the next YouTube star but with a defined strategy, led by the Landscape Institute, and with persistence, we can make a difference.
Support for small businesses A landscape practice, it turns out, is a business just like another. But what do we all know about running a business? If you are like me, very little. I’m a qualified landscape architect and undertook years of training to reach chartered level, but it didn’t teach me how to run a business. Many landscape practices are SMEs or small groups within a larger multidisciplinary company, but we all face similar challenges. For most business owners it is often trial and error, however, there is help but it can be difficult to find. These issues take on even more significance for the business owner during the current economic climate. I am pleased that the LI has improved its business advice during this COVID-19 pandemic. I’d like to see even more done to build up business advice, skills, grant funding and to consider creating a register of LI mentors willing to give advice to young landscape professionals and business owners.
My vision for a strong and supportive professional Institute We need a strong Landscape Institute that is member focused; offering leadership to meet the demands of our
profession that often lacks influence in the industry. It will be my job to represent and help lead the LI. My priority will be to advance our profession to ensure that it is relevant and modern. I believe that the Landscape Institute needs to continue this journey of modernisation, by: – Championing and promoting its members in their work however and wherever they practice – Supporting members to engage politically, locally and nationally, to contribute to the debates and influence policies that affect our environment and communities, making our voices heard – Improving the role and influence of the landscape architect and all related landscape professionals within the wider industry enabling all sizes of practices, and those in the public and third sectors to flourish in all parts of the UK and beyond – Widening access and increased support for members through the LI and local branches – Encouraging flexible education opportunities offering relevant, affordable, and accessible routes into and through the profession – Increasing and demonstrating the value achieved for society – enabling fee levels to be achieved commensurate with other professions – Reaching out to past members, attracting those who have left to re-join or those who have not yet joined the LI At the time of writing this article our world has changed out of all recognition. We are at the “pivotal point” as described by Sir David Attenborough, “the moment of crisis has come”. We need, more than ever before, a Landscape Institute with a strong voice and I will do my utmost to ensure that the landscape profession is heard. 2
2. Only a few months ago we were all working in an office environment.
LI life: CEO Report By Dan Cook
Acting on COVID-19 and the climate and biodiversity emergency 1. The front cover of the LI’s Climate and biodiversity action plan.
he Landscape Institute declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in June 2019 – one of the first among the UK built and natural environment professional bodies to do so. It was important that this was not just words; it had to represent a commitment to real action. This was in line with our strategy to build our influence, our relevance and our inclusivity as we grow the profession. We have recognised the need for sustainability in all we do, recognising the need to link to global initiatives such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals. I am proud that we have now launched a Climate and Biodiversity Action Plan to help drive real change. We will do more to help ensure that our members are at the forefront of delivering nature-based solutions. These include plans to upskill the sector, new professional entry requirements, international collaboration on a new ethical framework and Code of Practice and commitments to collaborate on policy and advocacy. In time to come, when looking back to this period, we want to be certain that our actions have indeed worked to better safeguard life of all kinds on this planet – not just for now, but for the future too.
Collaboration to accelerate change Climate and biodiversity action will be the major priority for the LI and inform our advocacy to government and industry for many years to come. A major goal will be to reach net zero
as an organisation before 2029. The May 2020 backdrop of the current COVID-19 pandemic is no reason to delay given the urgency of this issue. Many actions in our plan are already resourced, underway, and some already delivered. The The Landscape Institute’s pandemic has even commitment to addressing accelerated our shift the climate and biodiversity emergencies to digital delivery. We now want to encourage other built and natural environment professions to consider their approach to tackling the global crisis and to embed sustainability, climate resilience and biodiversity in their CPD, standards 1 and regulations. We are seeking new I hope you have seen the enhanced partnerships and collaborations to support our team have offered during accelerate change and achieve our these difficult times with: goals. We will be working with the – Free 12-month subscription for our Construction Industry Council and the new LI Campus for LI members: Environmental Policy Forum to share https://campus.landscapeinstitute. best practice and new thinking. org/ Support for members – New web support pages with We have acted quickly to safeguard our latest government advice and employees, volunteers and members other business and health support: during this global health pandemic. landscapeinstitute.org/covid-19/ We have also continued providing – New free weekly webinars: services remotely with strong levels of landscapeinstitute.org/events/ business resilience. events/
Climate and biodiversity action plan
LI life: CEO Report – Flexible membership payments: my.landscapeinstitute.org/ – Strengthened partnerships with charities Perennial and the Architects Benevolent Society: landscapeinstitute.org/news/lipartner-with-perennial-and-supportabs-in-light-of-covid-19/
Building a modern, relevant and inclusive Landscape Institute Over the past few years we have worked to update and improve how the LI operates. This has included: – Making improvements to the design and brief for Landscape, our journal “Landscape” – Launching the #chooselandscape careers campaign
– Introducing new systems to manage our calls, data and information – Updating case study, member and registered practice directories – Enabling the College of Fellows to meet regularly and welcoming new Fellows – Launching LI Campus, our online learning platform – Reviewing and updating the LI Awards, with fully online submissions and new categories
Over the next year or two we plan to: – Enable online recording of CPD – Create an online engagement space for members LI Connect – Update our entry standards to be more inclusive of all professional landscape disciplines
– Develop new ethical principles for the landscape profession globally and a new LI Code of Practice – Introduce new sustainability measures for both ourselves and the landscape profession to follow
What next? Over the next few months we will be engaging with employers, members and partners to explore your ideas for a green and climate resilient recovery. We will then be having conversations with governments and industry as to how we can ensure the landscape profession helps to create jobs in a sustainable way addressing the climate and biodiversity crisis we go forward. If you want to help please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
LI life: climate and biodiversity emergency By Ben Brown
The four ‘pillars’ of the Climate and Biodiversity Action Plan
he action plan is focused upon four pillars, relevant to the LI’s role as a professional body: i. Equipping the profession to provide solutions ii. Regulating and monitoring the sector to encourage greater sustainability iii. Advocating for change with governments and industry iv. Leading through our own sustainable business operations These pillars include a strategy for the next three to five years, which will drive the Institute and the profession to better combat climate change and
biodiversity loss. Alongside these longterm plans, the document also sets out several in-year actions to make an immediate impact where we can. These include: – Net zero by 2029: Committing to reduce the LI’s corporate carbon footprint to net zero by 2029, the year of our centenary – Updating professional standards: New draft Global Ethical Principles for the Landscape Profession and a new draft LI Code of Practice (to be consulted on later this year), both referencing climate change and biodiversity – New CPD requirements: Our new CPD policy takes effect on
1 July 2020, requiring professional members to dedicate at least five out of 25 hours’ CPD activity to skills related to climate resilience, sustainability and biodiversity – New entry requirements: We are now consulting on entry standards for future LI members that include a range of biodiversity, climate, resilience and sustainabilityrelated skill sets – Policy and practice: New policy development on issues such as Environmental Net Gain and acceleration of technical guidance on issues such as embodied carbon in hard and soft landscape materials
LI life: climate and biodiversity emergency 1. The four ‘pillars’ set out in the plan.
– Celebrating best practice: New LI Award 2020 categories include the Sir David Attenborough Award for Enhancing Biodiversity and the Excellence in Tackling Climate Change. New judging criteria have been introduced to ensure all winners take account of sustainability. The landscape profession has long been at the forefront of creating greener, more sustainable places. We want to ensure this is recognised by others, and also to challenge the sector to be the best that it can be – leading the response to the two biggest environmental crises of the day. To see the full action plan, visit https://www.landscapeinstitute.org/ news/climate-action-plan-2029-netzero-pledge
Equipping the profession to provide solutions to the emergencies
Regulating and monitoring the sector to encourage greater sustainability
2 REGULATION AND OVERSIGHT
GUIDANCE AND TRAINING FOUR PILLARS
Advocating for measures to address the emergencies with governments and industry
OUR OWN FOOTPRINT
Leading through our own sustainable business operations
By Theo Plowman
What does COVID-19 mean for the Environment and Agriculture Bills?
he wheels of government continue to move slowly, with various consultations, bills and committees facing delays. Now is a good time to take stock and understand what this might mean for the landscape sector. Whilst consultations can continue in some form, how Parliament will proceed is still uncertain. The UK Parliament confirmed in March that both the Agriculture and Environment bills were taking at least a month-long hiatus. These Bills will of course be fundamental to the future of environmental policy and the Environment Bill is under scrutiny in
Committee. As Parliament attempts to find a solution to better work remotely several Environment Bill Committee sessions have already been missed or delayed. It is crucial that there is not a lapse in scrutiny at this vital time. The Agriculture Bill finished its deliberation in Committee in March and was awaiting its final debate in the House of Commons before parliamentary business was suspended. Based on how the legislation has been scheduled so far, we should expect it to be debated at least a week or two before the Environment Bill. With EU negotiations having
resumed virtually in April there is an urgent need for government to put these Bills back on the agenda to ensure they are in place before departure from the EU. Regulatory gaps and uncertainty of this nature would be damaging to the landscape sector. There is still a chance for these Bills to be enhanced and delivered in a timely fashion, but this will require a difficult decision, pushing forward and past critical COVID-19 matters and focusing on our environmental future. For updates on policy work see landscapeinstitute.org/ or contact email@example.com.
Landscape T H E I N D U S T RY T R A D E S H O W
Tuesday 22 & Wednesday 23 September 2020
Prepare to be inspired and amazed. Join us for a drink on Tuesday 22nd September 2020 at the Central Bar from 17:15
Register for your free tickets to attend at www.landscapeshow.co.uk
LIJ-HalfPage-2020.ai 1 27/01/2020 14:49:06
Providing sustainable timber solutions for the built environment through our unique modular system
Bespoke planters Retaining walls Seating woodblocx-landscaping.co.uk 0800 389 1420
CPD AND TRAINING
LI Campus The future of CPD: the digital platform from the LI is now online
he Landscape Institute is pleased to announce the launch of LI Campus, our new digital resource: a compendium of educational content for landscape professionals. The platform offers access to all LI recorded events including all of our current webinar programme. It also provides access to over 80 hours of CPD programmed over the past three years.
“During this period of self-isolation and social distancing it is imperative that we continue to serve the profession’s educational needs. The launch of LI Campus is both timely and much needed to deliver more connectivity with the outside world, together with the core knowledge the sector needs to be prepared for the future” said Andrew Morris, Head of Product at the Landscape Institute. As we have responded to the
lockdown, the LI has created a new programme of webinars for members to provide a learning resource for the landscape profession. This new series has a broad focus, providing tuition not only on the latest updates to core and specialist sector skills, but business continuity and development together with sector news and research from experts. The content will be livestreamed and hosted on LI Campus.
Online CPD events 9/10 July – Bringing Nature into the City – Place and Health in the time of COVID-19 15/16 September – Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation 11/12 November – Human Skills [in association with Midlands Parks Forum]
In person events 2021 28 January – Health Place and Wellbeing (In person CPD Day subject to confirmation) 16 February – Accounting for Landscape Biodiversity and Net Gain (In person CPD Day subject to confirmation) 18th March – Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation (In person CPD subject to confirmation)
Webinar programme Every Tuesday 11am – 12pm on leadership updates, business continuity and CPD. Themes include: – Monthly Leadership Updates – Successful Remote Working – top tips and tricks including how to look after you mental health whilst working from home – Survive and Thrive – 11 steps to help your practice not only survive a recession but also emerge stronger – Climate Change Adaptation – a view across the nations on core ways to adapt working in light of Climate Change
– Sustainability – Project Management – Designing for low carbon usage – Plant Health – Remote Community Engagement – Re-Imaging Landscape Post COVID-19
ADVE R TO R I AL
Campus is supported by our four Campus sponsors, GreenBlue Urban, Hardscape, Vectorworks and Vestre.
GreenBlue Urban Louise Page, Marketing Manager, GreenBlue Urban GreenBlue Urban have always been proud to innovate, communicate and collaborate at many levels and for those that know us we hope you would agree. We attend and present at many events, as well as offering informative daily CPDs to varying practices across the breadth of the UK. Recent times have taught us that we have to adapt, thankfully the digital age is a wondrous thing and we have grown alongside it too. GreenBlue are able to operate seamlessly; a new Website, Ecommerce and an Enterprise Resource (ERP) System are all imminent enhancements that will improve not just our operating processes but our customer journeys with us too. Over the last few years we have been delighted to strengthen our relations with the specification market and a large part of this has been our continued work with the Landscape Institute. Supporting and speaking at recent CPD Events, enabling education on matters close to our hearts including planning and policy; natural capital; biodiversity and most importantly health and wellbeing, highlighting the very many benefits that green infrastructure brings to local communities – not just now but for many generations to come. We were also privileged to support the LI’s 90th birthday and be a part of the 2019 Awards ceremony – working with partners to provide a backdrop for legendary Sir David Attenborough – what an absolute honour! So it came without question that we would support the LI’s latest innovation the online digital platform “Campus”, a dedicated tool for landscape professionals to catch up on a wealth of knowledge from past events and CPD Days, the platform will also provide a “learning hub” that will enable current, varied content from a number of supporters on a regular basis for all to engage in and enjoy. With our continued passion for 70
education we are pleased to detail our scheduled Campus Webinar on the 8th September 2020, when we will present “The Landscape Below Ground”, detailing the planting mediums available for specification for long-term success with urban tree planting. By providing key data and comparisons for all, attendees will gain a clear insight into solutions for best practice planting to enable mature canopy cover to enhance their awardwinning schemes. Thank you, LI, for your non-stop innovation – we look forward to continuing our journey with you.
Hardscape David Lowe, Specification Director, Hardscape Hardscape are sponsoring Campus because, having collaborated with Landscape Institute members for over 25 years, our support of the Campus platform was a very natural evolution. By enabling the capture and dissemination of insights and learnings, Campus should become an essential resource for our industry – and something we very much welcome. It provides a rich repository of information that encourages collaboration and promotes best practice principles. All of these separate communications are now being distilled together to form “Meet the Experts” webinars, which you will be able to livestream or download during the year. This collection of CPDs will become a superb educational resource and we are incredibly excited to offer this content on such a wonderful platform. Our first webinar will be on August 18th, titled “Hard Landscaping Exposed”. This provides an unbiased overview of the wide range of hard landscaping materials available for specification for discerning landscape professionals. Focus will be given to materials types, colours, texture and finishes. The CPD will highlight the quest for low carbon and highly sustainable materials and also summarise the implications of ethical and human rights issues when it
comes to the global sourcing and specification of these materials. It is of course very timely indeed that Campus is launching amid the backdrop of a global pandemic and here at Hardscape we are extremely honoured to be a sponsor and to be able to support and connect with the industry in this way. Thanks to various video platforms such as Zoom, we have now all got used to our colleagues remarking on our bookcases, portraits and children’s pictures pinned to the fridge. These very human backgrounds remind us of the need to connect and be nourished by one another during times of great stress and hardship. Of course, everyone is still hoping that the children don’t videobomb in the middle of “that” call, or with “that” client. To sum up, what really excites me about Campus is now to have the ability to discuss best practice and specification with so many industry professionals at once. Questions will still need to be answered, samples
1. Housing redevelopment at Kings Crescent, Hackney, London. Encourages play, health and wellbeing. © GreenBlue Urban
2. Centenary Square, Birmingham. © Hardscape
ADVE R TO R I AL
4 3. Vectorworks Landmark 2020 Signature Image. Jewel Changi Airport | Courtesy of PWP Landscape Architecture
4. Vroom bench and April Go planters. © Vestre
will still need to be reviewed and quotes will still need to be prepared. The repercussions of not being able to meet face to face anymore may last for some time so in the meantime please connect, share and discuss with the PASSIONATE PAVING EXPERTS.
Vectorworks The World According to BIM Adrian Slatter, Director, Vectorworks UK By now you might have had a chance to ‘take a stroll’ through the new LI Campus. This is such an exciting initiative and we’re very enthusiastic about contributing to this webinar series. Vectorworks is proud to work with the Landscape Institute, and has been providing solutions for landscape design professionals for over 35 years. The launch of the LI Campus provides a fantastic medium for sharing knowledge and best practice and Vectorworks UK is delighted to be a sponsor of this initiative. Having
been involved with the BIM Working group and more latterly with the Digital Working Practice group, we are eager to engage with LI members and community. We hope that this new initiative will help advance awareness of landscape design, including sustainable site design and collaboration to help drive better landscape performance. Our aim for this 3-part webinar series is to give you a Vectorworks view on the World According to BIM, a roadmap to make your journey a bit straighter. The first webinar will focus on what you should think of before you start on your first BIM project. If you invest some time and thought into your studio’s systems – templates, classes, naming conventions and content libraries to mention a few – you’ll avoid many of the pitfalls on your BIM journey. Another important aspect which will be covered is how you’re dealing with project datum, National Grid coordinates and georeferencing. As you are very rarely the only player in a BIM project, you must ensure that your design is slotting in correctly with architects, civil engineers and city planners, in addition to your own team members. We will also look at how to speed up your work process by setting up libraries for content – everything from hatches and line types to landscape areas and hardscapes. As BIM is data, at the heart of it, we’ll also look at how Vectorworks makes it easy for you to supply the correct information, at the right time, in the correct format. We will cover export of Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) and Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (CoBie) and how to make collaboration as streamlined as possible. We hope that this webinar will ease some of the concerns surrounding BIM projects and boil it down to what it is all about; collaboration and exchange of data. In the two following webinars, we’ll be looking more at the design development process in Vectorworks and how to develop a 3D workflow.
Vestre Romy Rawlings, Commercial Director, Vestre We are proud to be one of the first sponsors of Campus and look forward to supporting this fantastic initiative over the coming months and years. This extensive LI resource will help to deliver one of our chosen United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – #4 Quality Education. This SDG has the aim of ‘ensuring inclusive and equitable education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all’. Through the content on Campus, in association with the LI’s commitment to CPD, we will support the education of landscape professionals globally at all stages of their career. The platform enables those who might otherwise find it difficult to engage with training because of geography, finance or other practical barriers, to take up a broad range of opportunities for education. Our first webinar will be ‘A Sustainable Approach to Street Furniture’. This is an overview of all aspects of sustainability in relation to the design, specification and manufacture of street furniture. The content encompasses a range of global considerations, including the UN’s SDGs, three pillars of sustainability (social, environmental, economic) and resource use. It will then move to the technical details of selected materials and finishes, providing information that will educate on all aspects to consider when specifying with sustainability in mind. The webinar will encourage a shift in thinking, away from short term cost and carbon consideration, towards a longer-term view, in order to make real and lasting differences to address the climate crisis. By the end of the presentation, attendees will have a better understanding of the principles of sustainability and the urgent need to change the way in which we currently conduct business. This will be delivered by a company that has operated carbon neutral production for 10 years.
How do you stay up to date with landscape knowledge and learning? You can now watch anywhere, anytime and relive key sessions with the LI’s new on-demand CPD learning library: LI Campus. Subscribe today and unlock access to all of our current and future events. Watch live CPD session, interviews and demonstrations from the comfort of your home. Don’t miss out – every session will be uploaded to Campus for catch up later. Go to campus.landscapeinstitute.org for more information.
Landscape The Journal of the Landscape Institute
Spine 5.2 mm
Bringing nature into the city â€“ place and health in the age of COVID-19
Issue 3 â€“ 2020