“Get walkability right and so much of the rest will follow” — Jeff Speck, “Walkable City”, 2012
Source: Vandermeulen, V., Verspecht, A., Vermeire, B. et al. (2011) The use of economic valuation to create public support for green infrastructure investments in urban areas. Landscape and Urban Planning. 103:198-206.
With increasing urbanisation and its subsequent negative effects on the environment, the need for green spaces is becoming increasingly recognised. Although it is difficult to define ‘Green infrastructure’, a network of open spaces, parks, waterways, trees and woodland that protect and enhance nature, and provide health and economic benefits, presents a possible solution to this problem. Decision makers need to know that investment in it will provide an economic return at both a regional and a community scale.
Using results from the EU VALUE project (1), the study produced a combined local-regional economic valuation model for assessing green infrastructure investment. At the project level, the study applied a cost-benefit analysis, using the concept of ‘Total Economic Value’, which attempts to capture the value of the different components of natural resources. Costs considered by this approach include land purchasing costs, design and construction costs and maintenance costs of the infrastructure, whilst benefits include production and regulating ecosystem services such as air quality improvement and climate change mitigation, as well as improved health from cycling, reduced accident risks, as well as recreational benefits. At the regional level, a ‘multiplier analysis’ was used, based on an input-output approach to consider not only the positive impact on local industry, but also on wages and the subsequent impact from better wages and job creation on the regional economy.
To illustrate how this two-tier model could be applied, the researchers used a case study of a proposed green cycle route in Bruges, Belgium, which is expected to lead to a 5% increase in cyclists. The example represents only a few aspects of multi-functional green infrastructure – an approach which is aimed at directly improving ecosystem health and resilience and contributing to conserving biodiversity (2). But it represents a type of project that contributes to the health and welfare of urban dwellers and brings environmental benefits to urban areas. Values were calculated for a 20 year timeframe. Examples of costs at the project-level were the construction of the bicycle road, indirect costs arising from tax increases and lost opportunity costs owing to farmers giving up land.
Evaluated benefits included the avoided car costs, tourist expenditure, improved traffic safety and positive health effects of cycling leading to lower health care costs and less absence from work. Alongside this were the environmental benefits effects of improved air quality and climate change mitigation. Using the cost-benefit approach, environmental benefits alone were estimated at €608,894 over 20 years, whilst the total value of green infrastructure at project level was estimated to be €1,707,169, which also included benefits from improved road safety, health and recreation. Regional additional effects were valued at €3,885,723, more than twice as high as the project effects. Most of the regional value is created by the multiplier effect of the investments in the project. The total value of the cycle belt is therefore €5,592,892, when project and regional values are combined over a 20 year period.
The researchers suggest that the model provides a useful complement to traditional cost-benefit approaches by highlighting the indirect economic benefits of green infrastructure. It can help convince stakeholders of the importance of investing in green infrastructure and allow policymakers to balance issues of community and economy growth, environmental protection and quality of life. They highlight that in addition to data limitations, the objectives of the evaluation will define or limit the inclusion of different types of benefits and costs in the evaluation exercise. If full benefits were included, such as stress reduction and emotional benefits, then the outcomes would be more positive, whereas if costs, such as automobile industry losses, were included, then the investment would seem less positive.
1. VALUE (Valuing Attractive Landscapes in the Urban Economy) is supported by the European Commission through the Interreg IVB programme. See: http://www.value-landscapes.eu
2. European Commission’s webpage on Green Infrastructure. See: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/ecosystems/index_en.htm
Source: Vandermeulen, V., Verspecht, A., Vermeire, B. et al. (2011) The use of economic valuation to create public support for green infrastructure investments in urban areas. Landscape and Urban Planning. 103:198-206.
Researchers have estimated that, annually, almost 3 000 deaths (i.e. 20% of mortality) in Barcelona, Spain, are premature, and would be preventable if residents lived in urban environments that met international exposure recommendations for physical activity, air pollution, noise, heat and access to green spaces. The results emphasise the need to reduce motorised traffic, promote active and public transport, and provide adequate green space to encourage exercise and mitigate the impacts of environmental hazards in cities.
By 2050 almost 70% of people are projected to live in urban environments globally. Certain aspects of urban living, including contemporary car-centric city designs, contribute to a sedentary lifestyle and high levels of air pollution and noise, which are known to contribute to premature death. In addition, cities experience increased heat exposure due to human activities and heat-amplifying effects of the built environment.
Green infrastructure – such as parks, urban gardens and surrounding greenness – can reduce the impacts of these environmental risks and provides well-known benefits for physical and mental health.
In this study, researchers estimated the difference between actual and recommended levels of physical inactivity, exposure to air pollution, noise, heat and insufficient access to green spaces in Barcelona. Barcelona has one of the highest air pollution and noise levels in Europe due to high traffic density, with a high proportion of diesel vehicles, and an urban design of narrow street canyons (where streets are flanked by buildings on both sides) that are shielded by dense construction. The city centre can be up to 8 °C hotter than surrounding areas during summer months and only 7 m2 of green space is available per resident; green spaces provide benefits in heat reduction and can mitigate traffic noise and possibly air pollution.
The researchers modelled preventable premature mortality and the increase in life expectancy for Barcelona residents if international recommendations for performance of physical activity and exposure to air pollution, noise, heat and provision of green spaces were met.
The researchers used existing international exposure recommendations as follows: physical activity – 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity per week (World Health Organization — WHO); noise – daytime noise levels not exceeding 55 decibels (dB) (WHO); air pollution – annual mean particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) not exceeding 10 micrograms per cubic metre of air (µg/m3) (WHO).
Despite no recommendation being available for temperature, it is believed that with changes to the urban plan, such as increasing urban greenery, reducing motorised traffic and improving building design, a cooling effect of up to 4 ºC can be achieved1. The recommendation on availability of green spaces was taken from the European Commission’s working group ‘Measuring, Monitoring and Evaluation in Local Sustainability2 and the WHO, who both recommend living within 300 m of green space greater than 0.5 hectares in size.
Data on current exposure levels for Barcelona residents were taken for: (1) physical activity, from the 2011 Barcelona Health Survey; (2) air pollution, from the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE LUR) 2012; (3) noise, from Barcelona’s strategic noise map, 2006 (4) daily mean temperatures for Barcelona from 2009–2014, from the European Climate Assessment and Dataset (Klein Tan 2002) and (5) green space land use, from Urban Atlas, 2007.
The results indicated that over 70% of adults in Barcelona are insufficiently active. Air pollution and traffic noise levels (average current exposure is 16.6 µg/m3 of PM2.5 for air pollution and 65 dB for noise) far exceeded the recommended levels. Summer temperatures in the city exceeded the calculated threshold level on approximately 100 days per year and one third of the population did not live within the recommended distance of a green space.
The researchers estimated that 2 904 premature deaths could be prevented annually if all recommendations were met. This is almost 20% of all annual natural deaths in the city. The largest share of preventable deaths was attributed to insufficient physical activity (1 154 deaths), followed by air pollution (659 deaths), traffic noise (599 deaths) and heat (376 deaths). Access to green spaces was estimated to have the smallest impact on reducing premature mortality (116 deaths).
If these premature deaths were prevented, residents could expect to live, on average, 360 days longer. This benefit to society is valued at around €9.1 billion annually (based on the value-of-statistical-life approach (VoSL) — the amount of money people are willing to spend to save a statistical life).
The researchers acknowledge that the combined effects of the different environmental hazards were not modelled, resulting in potential double counting of deaths. On the other hand, air pollution deaths may also have been underestimated, as certain pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxides, were not considered in this study.
The researchers also acknowledge the limited scientific evidence on the adverse health impacts of noise exposure and beneficial impacts of green spaces. They also point out that the contextual setting and underlying population parameters, such as the general health of the population, personal choices, motivation for behavioural change and time lags between a change and a benefit in any given location, affect human health and the risk of death.
The research, however, does contribute to the understanding of multiple environmental exposures and associated health impacts in an urban setting. The researchers recommend fundamental changes to urban and transport planning. In particular, the use of active and public transport as a means of integrating physical activity into daily life is encouraged and is believed to provide numerous health benefits. Policies to reduce motorised traffic and promote active and cleaner modes of transport should therefore be prioritised. Reinforcement of green infrastructure can also promote engagement in physical activity, mitigate air pollution, noise and heat and has been associated with improvements in mental health, biodiversity and community benefits.
2. Working Groups on Measuring, Monitoring and Evaluation in Local Sustainability, Expert Group on the Urban Environment. Towards a Local Sustainability Profile: European Common Indicators. Technical Report. European Commission, 2001.
Source: Mueller, N., Rojas-Rueda, D., Basagaña X., Cirach, M., Cole-Hunter, T., Dadvand, P., Donaire-Gonzalez, D., Foraster, M., Gascon, M., Martinez, D., Tonne, C., Triguero-Mas, M., Valentín, A. & Nieuwenhuijsen, M. (2016) Urban and transport planning related exposures and mortality: a health impact assessment for cities. Environmental Health Perspectives. DOI: 10.1289/EHP220.
“Get walkability right and so much of the rest will follow” — Jeff Speck, “Walkable City”, 2012
Allies and Morrison’s proposal is based on reimagining the existing infrastructure of James Cubitt’s 1869 designed Blackfriars Bridge by using spare capacity to accommodate a through public garden of similar size of the proposed Garden Bridge, while still providing the vital north-south link for vehicular and cycle traffic along the Blackfriars Rd – Farringdon Rd axis. The Allies and Morrison team state, “By consolidating both the east and west pavements into one larger 14m wide pavement on the west side, we could create a brilliant pedestrianised garden.”
This alternative design would still offer dramatic views of St Paul’s and the City to the east and Westminster to the west and offers a positive response to the Mayor for London’s recent publication Public London: Creating the best public realm – authored by Peter Murray, Fred Manson and Pam Alexander. The Mayor’s ambitions for the creation of new public spaces and places in London are to, “bring public transport, walking and cycling together to create high quality public realm.”
Using the existing Blackfriars infrastructure connects the north and south shores of the Thames using existing infrastructure thus providing increased capacity in pedestrian access between The City to the north and Southwark and Elephant and Castle to the south whilst creating a green space for commuters plus additional green infrastructure capacity for London. The provision of additional pedestrian space also links with the latest ‘Cities Alive’ report, a collaboration between Arup’s Foresight + Research + Innovation, Transport Consulting and Urban Design teams. The report ‘Cities Alive: Towards a walking world’ discusses the benefits of walkable cities – economic, social, environmental and political – and sets out measures for improving walkability. “Creating safe and efficient transportation systems, liveable environments, a sense of place and community, and smart and responsive cities will all help to make walking a normal part of everyday life and the natural choice for shorter journeys.”
This Blackfriars Bridge Garden concept celebrates existing infrastructure heritage just like New York’s Highline Parkway . Allies and Morrison claims that their proposal does not require extensive construction and can be delivered minus the initial cost of construction of a new bridge whilst connecting two areas of London where there is an existing need for additional commuter capacity. “It would provide 40,000 sq ft of new green space. It would remain public and accessible to all, seamlessly integrated into the existing public realm on both sides of the River without obstructing any of its views of St Paul’s. This light touch approach would be carbon neutral, and together with the cycle superhighway and solar panelled roof of Blackfriars Station, would be at the heart of a global exemplar for sustainable infrastructure.”
Source Text and images : www.alliesandmorrison.com. June 2016.
The Crown Estate is working to establish a green corridor in London’s West End, connecting two major parks; Regent’s Park and St James’s Park. The ecology project entitled, ‘Wild West End’ is adopting an innovative, Estate-wide approach. The Ecology Masterplan has been prepared by Arup to guide the installation of contextually valuable green infrastructure (GI) throughout The Crown Estate’s London portfolio. This will provide valuable habitats for wildlife on and around the buildings, and improve the experience for people who live, work and visit the area. In adopting the Masterplan, this has enabled The Crown Estate to take a long-term approach to ensuring the integration of GI within new developments, existing assets and the public realm.
Whilst the development of the Masterplan began with the objective of enhancing ecology and biodiversity, the importance of the additional direct and indirect benefits to the local environment and health and wellbeing of tenants and visitors has also been recognised by The Crown Estate. These benefits include improved air quality and odour, reduced heat island effect, increased stormwater retention and a more visually attractive environment. It also creates engagement opportunities, and potentially leads to increased dwell time for visitors and attraction and retention of tenants, contributing to the value of the portfolio.
Measurement and monitoring
A key aspect of the Masterplan approach is the use of target-setting and measurement to guide implementation and monitor its success. In order to measure the establishment of a green corridor, a corridor has been defined as an area of significant green space (100m2 or greater) with a maximum separation of 100 metres. Key Performance Indicators have been set for establishment of a total area of green space, and observation of increases in species type and number over a defined period of time.
Monitoring will track the success of the implementation in terms of its benefits to biodiversity, the local environment and health and wellbeing. Baseline bird and bat surveys have been undertaken, identifying the species currently present within and adjacent to the Masterplan area. Sightings were recorded of many different bird species. Recordings were also made of several bat species using bat detectors. Surveys will be repeated at regular intervals. Opportunities exist to engage with local universities to support and extend the learning from the monitoring process. At a project specific level, the intention is to monitor roof and air temperatures and stormwater retention associated with green roofs. The Crown Estate also intends to measure the benefit via tenant satisfaction surveys, impacts on voids, turnover and rental prices.
The Crown Estate is now extending the benefits of this strategic approach throughout the West End, looking to create a partnership with neighbouring property owners. This will broaden the intended biodiversity benefit, contribute to the value of the local area, encourage knowledge sharing and broaden engagement opportunities.
Consultation is ongoing with key stakeholders, enabling the approach to be aligned with local and regional initiatives. Those consulted include Westminster City Council, Greater London Authority, Transport for London, London Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Natural England, Cross River Partnership, West End Partnership and Royal Parks, as well as surrounding landowners, with positive feedback received from all parties.
There is absolutely no doubt that parks and green spaces in urban areas improve people’s wellbeing and quality of life. Through the Wild West End we look forward to transforming a part of the city for thousands of residents, workers and tourists to enjoy even more.” Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
The project, the first city centre ecology project worldwide to be conceived and driven forward by an industry partnership of this sort, is also being supported by the Mayor of London, and the London Wildlife Trust, both of which have agreed to provide advice, promote the objectives of Wild West End and collaborate with the partners on their individual green infrastructure plans going forward.
Research has shown that cities retain only 8 per cent of the native bird species and 25 per cent of the plant species of comparable undeveloped land. Set within the bustling urban environment of Regent Street and St James’s, The Crown Estate’s green corridor will integrate gardens at street level and on rooftops, as well as the installation of bird and bat boxes, beehives and green walls. The introduction of these green pockets amongst Regent Street and St James’s historic buildings will enliven the surrounding public spaces for visitors, and boost the range of habitats available in this part of central London so that wildlife can flourish alongside the millions of residents, workers and shoppers that visit the area each week.
It is also anticipated that Wild West End could have a positive impact on air quality in this part of the West End. In Chicago, introducing green roofs across 10 per cent of the buildings in the city removed 17,400 mg of nitrogen dioxide each year. Improved air quality has clear health benefits. One piece of research suggests that asthma rates among children aged four to five falls by a quarter for every additional 343 trees per square km, as they help keep the air clean and breathable. These benefits have a knock-on effect in terms of public health spending and Chicago estimates that its investment in green roofs could save somewhere between £17m and £65m in public health costs annually.
This case study features in the UK Green Building Council’s report ‘Demystifying Green Infrastructure’
The UK’s Department for Communities and Local Government has recently published revised green infrastructure guidance as part of the National Planning Practice Guide (PPG). Green infrastructure now has its own section under ‘Natural Environment’ (along with landscape, biodiversity and ecosystems and brownfield land). It provides a definition of green infrastructure and describes its value to delivering sustainable development and planning policies, including building a strong, competitive economy and delivering a wide choice of high quality homes.
Green infrastructure is a network of multifunctional green space, urban and rural, which is capable of delivering a wide range of environmental and quality of life benefits for local communities.
Green infrastructure is not simply an alternative description for conventional open space. As a network it includes parks, open spaces, playing fields, woodlands, but also street trees, allotments and private gardens. It can also include streams, canals and other water bodies and features such as green roofs and walls.
Green infrastructure is important to the delivery of high quality sustainable development, alongside other forms of infrastructure such as transport, energy, waste and water. Green infrastructure provides multiple benefits, notably ecosystem services, at a range of scales, derived from natural systems and processes, for the individual, for society, the economy and the environment. To ensure that these benefits are delivered, green infrastructure must be well planned, designed and maintained. Green infrastructure should, therefore, be a key consideration in both local plans and planning decisions where relevant.
To assist in planning positively for green infrastructure local planning authorities may wish to prepare an authority-wide green infrastructure framework or strategy. This should be evidence-based by, for example, including an assessment of current green infrastructure provision that identifies gaps in the network and the components and opportunities for improvement. The assessment can inform the role of green infrastructure in local and neighbourhood plans, infrastructure delivery plans and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) schedules.
Local Plans should identify the strategic location of existing and proposed green infrastructure networks. Where appropriate, supplementary planning documents can set out how the planning, design and management components of the green infrastructure strategy for the area will be delivered.
This strategic approach to green infrastructure may cross administrative boundaries. Therefore neighbouring authorities, working collaboratively with other stakeholders including Local Nature Partnerships (LNPs) and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), may wish to consider how wider strategies for their areas can help address cross-boundary issues and help meet the Duty to Cooperate.
Green infrastructure can help to deliver a variety of planning policies including:
Building a strong, competitive economy
Green infrastructure can drive economic growth and regeneration, helping to create high quality environments which are attractive to businesses and investors.
Delivering a wide choice of high quality homes
Green infrastructure can help deliver quality of life and provide opportunities for recreation, social interaction and play in new and existing neighbourhoods. More broadly, green infrastructure exists within a wider landscape context and can reinforce and enhance local landscape character, contributing to a sense of place. Green infrastructure is also an important approach to delivering ecosystem services and ecological networks.
Requiring good design
Well-designed green infrastructure helps create a sense of place by responding to, and enhancing, local landscape character. Green infrastructure can also help create safe and accessible environments in new development and the regeneration of brownfield sites in existing built up areas.
Promoting healthy communities
Green infrastructure can improve public health and community wellbeing by improving environmental quality, providing opportunities for recreation and exercise and delivering mental and physical health benefits. Green infrastructure also helps reduce air pollution, noise and the impacts of extreme heat and extreme rainfall events.
Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change
Green infrastructure can help urban, rural and coastal communities mitigate the risks associated with climate change and adapt to its impacts by storing carbon; improving drainage (including the use of sustainable drainage systems) and managing flooding and water resources; improving water quality; reducing the urban heat-island effect and; where appropriate, supporting adaptive management in coastal areas. Green infrastructure networks also help species adapt to climate change by providing opportunities for movement.
Conserving and enhancing the natural environment
The components of green infrastructure exist within the wider landscape context and should enhance local landscape character and contribute to place-making. High quality networks of multifunctional green infrastructure provide a range of ecosystem services and can make a significant contribution to halting the decline in biodiversity.
As with other forms of infrastructure, green infrastructure requires sustainable management and maintenance arrangements to be in place if it is to provide benefits and services in the long term. Arrangements for managing green infrastructure, and for funding its management over the long-term, should be identified as early as possible when planning green infrastructure and factored into the way that it is designed and implemented.
Where appropriate, planning proposals should incorporate green infrastructure in line with local and neighbourhood plan policies and site specific considerations. As a component of sustainable development, green infrastructure should be considered at an early stage of a planning proposal. Depending on individual circumstances, planning obligations, conditions or the Community Infrastructure Levy may all be potential mechanisms for securing and funding green infrastructure.
Public London: Creating the best public realm – Authors Peter Murray, Fred Manson
and Pam Alexander with Foreword by Daniel Moylan, Chairman of the Mayor’s Design Advisory Group.
“By 2030 one and a half million people – almost as many as currently live in Birmingham – will be added to the 8.5 million living here in London. Accommodating that growth in a way that allows the city and its people to thrive and prosper will be extraordinarily challenging. Only if we think long term and plan ahead will we make a success of it.
Parliament has placed the Mayor of London squarely at the heart of getting this right, through the Mayor’s statutory strategic responsibilities for the city’s spatial development and its transport and environmental planning. With a new Mayor due to be elected in May 2016 and a new London Plan and other strategies to be produced, this is the moment to build on the work of the past and to shape this great city for its future.
Over the last year, members of the Mayor’s Design Advisory Group, representing a range and diversity of views, have been working on four topics identified as crucial to getting the strategy right. They are Growing London, Public London, Ageing London and Shaping London. Together these reports form the Good Growth Agenda.
This publication – Public London – seeks to identify the right approach to planning and creating the public realm – the spaces around (and sometimes within) buildings in which we can go to and fro, meet people and enjoy the city. London has greatly improved its public realm in recent decades but the demands of a rising population make high quality public space ever more a necessity, rather than a luxury. This publication offers interesting new ideas on how we can meet that need.”
Issue: Building an alliance of public, private and local interests
Recommendations: To build genuine partnerships to deliver the quality of public space that London needs, the Mayor should:
“Ultimately, creating great local places in London is crucial to giving every Londoner a decent quality of life.”
Issue: Optimising place and movement
Recommendations: To achieve accessible, healthy and vibrant urban spaces the Mayor should:
“Bold approaches are required to rebalance and optimise the street, address public space deficiencies and instil a sense of civic pride.”
Issue: Supporting investment and design of public realm in key areas
Recommendations: To make the greatest difference to the quality of life of Londoners within the context of the geography of growth, the Mayor should continue to:
29 February, 5.30pm, hosted by LDA Design, London
Kingston University’s Associate Professor Pat Brown presented Landscape Interface Studio’s recent collaboration with Arup at the ‘The visual spectacle & tactile texture of urban places (in a changing climate)’ event which is focused on exploring the impact of urban design – its form, morphology, aesthetics and materials used – on city dwellers’ sight and touch based sensory experiences in public spaces. The event examined how climate change or climate disruption could present challenges for these experiences, and how developments in technology and knowledge could help improve urban resilience. Pat Brown introduced LIS’s pedagogic approach in the context of the recent ‘Cities Alive: Rethinking Green Infrastructure’ research report, undertaken by the Arup Foresight Group.
The third event in the Feeling good in public spaces series explores the impact of urban design – its form and morphology, materials used – on the visual and tactile senses. It examines how climate change or climate disruption could present challenges for these sensory experiences, and how developments in technology and knowledge could help improve urban resilience. The event is supported by the Adaptation and Resilience in the Context of Change Network (ARCC) who provide a UK-wide network to develop and exchange knowledge and evidence to inform policy and practice. Funded by EPSRC, the focus is adaptation to changes in the built environment and infrastructure.
Chair: Selina Mason, Board Director, LDA Design
Selina Mason is a master planner and Architect. She has a wealth of experience in complex urban regeneration masterplans having led on the design and delivery of London’s post Games Transformation masterplan for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and then the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC). Her approach focuses on great design supported by a clear delivery strategy. Before joining the ODA in 2007, Selina was Director of Design Review at CABE (Commission for Architecture & the Built Environment).
It is an often quoted assumption by the built environment professions that connection with nature is important to health and wellbeing, but how should designers use this rather easy conclusion to inform the creation of beauty and visual spectacle and why should it be so? This talk explores the principles of biophilic design applied to the urban environment and how we can use this analysis to understand and enhance our approach to the visual and sensory design of public space with reference to some specific projects, including the 2012 Olympic Park.
In a busy and complicated world it is essential that we can attend to stimuli that are currently relevant at the expense of those that are currently less relevant. However, this ability to attend selectively to certain aspects of the environment also leaves us unaware of much of the world around us. This talk will explain some of these effects, demonstrating that attention is an important determinant of our everyday experiences.
Ben will explore how urban design affects the kinaesthetic, tactile and visual experience of older riders when navigating the city of Oxford. US scholars Forsyth and Krizek suggest that urban design needs to take the sensory experience of cycling more seriously in order to forge cycling-orientated urban design practice that makes cycling ‘delightful’. The talk will provide a summary of the implications for designing cities for cycling that are not only safer and more inclusive, but that provide a ‘delightful’ sensory experience. This work is part of a UK Research Council funded project called ‘cycle BOOM’ which seeks to understand cycling among the older population and how this affects independence, health and well-being and to provide recommendations for design of the built environment.
How do cities and people recover and heal from conflict? Cities can play an active role in post-conflict healing – not just politically and economically, but spatially and socially as well. Absent a national reconciliation or peacebuilding process following Lebanon’s 15-year civil war (1975–1990), Beirut has sought refuge in the privatisation and sanitisation of its public spaces. The memories of this conflict, which reside in certain bounded physical spaces, including the Green Line in the neighborhood of Nasra, are diffusing as Beirut marches toward a new kind of future. I propose a design intervention in light and texture that would allow residents to re-embody their individual and collective memories and re-enact the borders of the places that contain them. By changing the way Nasra looks and feels, I hope to create opportunities for city residents to remember conflict and reflect on how they and their cities have grown and changed in the years since, providing them with a space to navigate and metabolise their individual and collective trauma.
Associate Professor Pat Brown presents research from the ‘Cities Alive: Rethinking Green Infrastructure’ workshop run collaboratively between Kingston University’s Landscape Interface Studio(LIS) and Arup’s Landscape Architecture team. The workshop was devised to demonstrate LIS’s pedagogic approach and to trial interdisciplinary graduate and practitioner learning in the context of the recent Cities Alive: Rethinking Green Infrastructure research report, undertaken by the Arup Foresight Group. Post-graduate students took part in the workshop which was supported by Kingston University’s Centre for Higher Education Research and Practice (CHERP) Students were asked to explore green infrastructure design solutions to help resolve contemporary urban issues. 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. 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.
Biophilic environments have the capacity to improve our health and well-being, by reducing stress, blood pressure, improving mood and aiding recovery from mental fatigue. However, their effectiveness is dependent upon variable, dynamic factors in the built environment. Climate change poses a challenge, as not only will it impact upon and exacerbate existing human health issues, but the environments that we use to maintain and enhance our health and well-being. This talk will look at the challenges our built environment faces and what we can do to make our biophilic environments more resilient in the face of climate change.
Frequently situated in areas of high multiple deprivation and suffering from a chronic lack of investment, social housing landscapes tend to be among the most vulnerable urban environments. At the same time, these landscapes offer enormous potential for achieving substantial adaptation impact combined with tangible social benefits for their resident communities. Drawing on a current Groundwork programme in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, the talk will present an award-winning social housing retrofit model delivering affordable and aesthetically attractive nature-based adaptation solutions, housing sector training, community resilience and employment outcomes combined with customised methodologies for monitoring both the technical impacts and the social return on investment.