Urban climate-proofing design competition winners announced

An innovative housing estate redesign that sees green corridors and green roofs retrofitted to existing structures is the winner of the Design for Life competition, run by Groundwork London and Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

Design for Life awards projects that help climate proof neighbourhoods. Image: MorgueFile
Design for Life awards projects that help climate proof neighbourhoods. Image: MorgueFile

The competition, in association with the National Housing Federation and the Landscape Institute, was won by Dora Papp with her project "A Good Base for a Smart City", designed for a neighbourhood in Hungary.

The competition invited ideas about how green infrastructure could be retrofitted in a neighbourhood to make it more resilient to climate change. Design ideas were all linked to a real space and tackled climate challenges such as flooding, overheating and drought to future-proof existing green space.

"A Good Base for a Smart City" is designed for the neighbourhood of Jósaváros in Nyíregyháza, in Hungary. Papp's plan is to regroup existing green spaces into new green-chains to run along the inside of the estate.

The flat roofs of apartment blocks, shops, garages and community centre will be opened up and converted into green roofs growing food and for recreational use. The green roofs would provide social, economic and environmental benefits with residents only having to step out their door to begin gardening and to connect with nature.

Along with green roofs, bee-hives will be installed with bug hotels ensuring biodiversity and natural green walls established on walls without windows.

Landscape Institute president and competition judge Noel Farrer said the winning project "solves the ubiquitous challenge around the world of blocks in medium to high density layouts where peoples' relationship to the ground has been lost."

"It reconnects them through the re-imagining of land and water and is a fresh, bold and all encompassing project that tackles the challenges of climate change and biodiversity head on. This is a project that will invite people to enjoy the landscape and strengthen community involvement."

The two runners up were "SuDS for play areas" at Tylney House in east London and "The Height Weavers Community Green Space" project in Manchester.

Tylney House is a small housing estate in Whitechapel and the scheme seeks to make better use of the estate's outdoor spaces with a playable sustainable drainage system. Tylney House has a mix of green, hard-surfaces and the play spaces are currently disconnected and underused. The project mixes the idea of play within the sustainable drainage system as a way of unlocking some of the city's hidden processes by creating a visual and interactive story about the journey of water for children.

"The Height Weavers Community Green Space" is a series of disconnected spaces, bordering residential properties. The plan is for green spaces to be linked together to form multifunctional green infrastructure for use across the area. The community will help in the design of green walls; rain gardens and green roofs, all of which will incorporate recycled materials such as scaffolding poles , reclaimed wood and materials derived from the existing space.

Nicola Wheeler from Groundwork London said: "The entries show what can be achieved through the scope, breadth and variety of solutions concerning real places. This presents an opportunity for housing providers to affect a cultural change, being innovative and getting the most out of assets at a time when sector is contemplating major change."

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