Green infrastructure is given centre stage

An increasing recognition of the value of green infrastructure by the built environment industry was reflected in the iconic Cityscape installation at the Ecobuild exhibition, which took place at Earls Court in London last week.

Designed by landscape architect Patrick Collins, the 10m-high living-wall-clad cube highlighted the challenges of the urban public realm.

"I think people are beginning to realise that landscape and GI has a lot to offer and needs to be taken seriously," explained former RHS Chelsea Flower Show designer Collins.

"It needs to be integrated from the start, rather than being an afterthought. People do recognise that now, and the role green infrastructure has to play in climate change adaptation."

Capita Symonds' land planning division Capita Lovejoy spearheaded the creation of the installation, which featured an escapist interior developed by Natural England.

Each of the imposing cube's four sides used a different system of green walling to demonstrate a variety of techniques.

One side used Mobilane's LivePanel system - a new product from Holland - while another featured Aldingbourne Nurseries' system, installed by Scotscape.

West Sussex-based Biotecture created its modular wall on the opposite side of the cube from Jakob's trellis system.

At the base of the cube, Lindum Turf's new wildflower mix provided a grassed area, while Tendercare Nurseries' plants featured throughout the installation.

"Green walls need to be seen as part of a toolkit of green infrastructure," added Collins. "Where space is limited they are ideal but they need to be used in association with elements such as tree planting and landscaping. People are becoming more aware of the importance of landscape in development."

Natural England used the exhibition to push its Natural Development project, which aims to collaborate with developers on incorporating green infrastructure. The body's Future London programme manager Brian McDonald told HW it was "great" that there was a focus on green infrastructure at the centre of the exhibition.

"The natural environment is an important part of creating new places," he explained. "We have seen the concept of green infrastructure accepted more by developers themselves."

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