Landscape Interface Studio, Kingston University and ARUP’s Landscape Architecture team recently collaborated on an innovative shared project, ‘Cities Alive Workshop’, devised to trial interdisciplinary graduate and practitioner outdoor learning in the context of ARUP Cities Alive research report, undertaken by the ARUP Foresight Group. 12 post-graduate students from Kingston University’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture were invited to take part in the one-day ‘Cities Alive Workshop’.
The workshop involved students from various areas of practice including MArch Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part 2), MA Sustainable Design, MA Fashion, MA Film Making, MLA Landscape Architecture and PG Dip Landscape Architecture (LI accredited) plus MA Landscape + Urbanism – all courses from the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Kingston University. The event took place in Central London with the initial presentations at ARUP’s Head Quarters followed by site visits investigating 2 separate routes; an east-west axis running along Oxford Street between Tottenham Court Rd and Oxford Circus and a north-south axis running from Fitzroy Square in the north to Soho Square located just south of Oxford Street.
Students were asked to explore green infrastructure design solutions to help resolve contemporary urban issues such as air pollution. The Cities Alive initiative targets rethinking green infrastructure and addresses the role of – trees, water, public spaces – in delivering measurable benefits to the quality of life in cities. The workshop group was introduced to the Cities Alive report by joint author Tom Armour, Leader, Global Landscape Architecture, Arup. Tom set out the case for using green-infrastructure in city planning and design; and the social, environmental and economic benefits. He discussed strategies for designers using case studies highlighted in the Cities Alive report.
The workshop brief plus contextual information was delivered by Simon Green, Landscape Architect, ARUP. Issues to be considered included: movement and connectivity, increased footfall as a result of CrossRail, traffic and pedestrian congestion, climate change adaptation, air quality, waste management, traffic safety, increasing biodiversity, maximizing underused spaces and the design and provision of attractive public spaces.
Site visits were led by Simon Green and Nicole Tarrio of ARUP’s Landscape Architecture team and student teams were asked to develop a variety of proposals. These were presented at the end of the workshop following an afternoon of collaborative design and planning including students, academics and members of ARUP’s Landscape Architecture design team.
Sarah H, MA Fashion student,
Being a novice to Landscape Architecture, I’ve learned loads about the subject of green infrastructure and found it all very interesting – it was a great crash course! I think all areas of design are closely linked and its great to be able to take this new area of knowledge forward to complement my design work….. as a green infrastructure/ urban landscape novice, it would have been hard to work out the problems without visiting the site but really clear and obvious when you are wandering around taking everything in.
It was really nice to work within Arup’s office – it was a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Though the project wasn’t ‘live’ it did feel as though our ideas were valued and of interest to the professionals.
The workshop was supported by Kingston University’s Centre for Higher Education Research and Practice (CHERP) to assist the development of a project that demonstrates LandscapeIS’ pedagogical approach to projects. Live projects promote learning through direct action on the ground and encourage continuous consideration in response to findings and research. The Cities Alive Workshop asked students to assume responsibility for investigation, experimentation, and developing design proposals and outcomes thus engaging them intellectually, emotionally, and socially and enhancing an integrated learning experience.
 Arup’s ‘Cities Alive’ report, March 2014, envisages cities of the future as integrated networks of intelligent green spaces, designed to improve the health and wellbeing of citizens. The report, undertaken by Arup’s Foresight + Research + Innovation and Landscape Architecture teams, addresses global issues such as climate change, urban population growth, resource scarcity and risk of urban flooding.