Alongside being presented with facts and figures which can be used to build the case with clients for investing in green infrastructure, landscape promoters attending Horticulture Week’s Healthy Design, Healthy Places event were strongly advised to identify a green infrastructure champion in any new development, be more assertive among construction colleagues - and push hard for post-installation management plans.
Chaired by the London Legacy Development Corporation’s executive director of park and venues Mark Camley who told the audience his criteria for success is to ensure life expectancy of residents in London’s Stratford, where the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is located, is the same as the rest of the city, the event heard from urban designer Noel Farrer, who described a Homes and Communities Agency funded regeneration project in a deprived urban area in the North West where quality landscaping, commissioned specifically to improve health outcomes, also more than quadrupled the value of the previously defunct housing stock.
Senior project manager for Argent Ken Trew described how building the public realm first at the King’s Cross regeneration scheme was key to winning buy in from the public, helping to promote the scheme to future potential tenants. "We don’t wait until we finish projects to talk to estate management," said Trew who convinced the property company to appoint someone with the right experience to oversee the management of the landscape post installation: "It pays for itself because we have invested in the landscape. The tenants want to see the grass alive – they won’t pay the service charge otherwise."
In an upbeat address Trew identified competition between developers as a clear opportunity for landscape promoters: "We’re all trying to attract investors and so we are trying to outdo each other. It has lifted the quality of design and implementation of the landscape." Also speaking was the Building Research
Establishment’s research director Ed Suttie who outlined the details of the first major built environment sector biophilic design study that will generate evidence of occupant benefits of a greener workplace. Said Suttie: "We need to start talking about positives – the enriching, the restorative – that is where horticulture plays a positive role and connects to the healthy design brief."
The event also heard learnings from One World Design’s Chris Medland who created Europe’s largest green wall on the car park of the National Grid, and BDP director of landscape architecture Mehron Kirk who is leading the design for Westminster’s pilot ‘Green Spine’ project due to go through planning next week. The project aims to create London’s most "liveable" neighbourhood, promoting healthy streets by changing the existing character and integrating a host of new uses and activities.
Also speaking was Howard Gray from GreenBlue Urban who shared key evidence points on the value of trees in the landscape and Lendlease public realm Ewan Oliver, Chris Churchman, founding partner of Churchman Landscape Architects and John Ennis of Foxtons.
Robert Fry of Aukette Swanke and Angela Dapper of Denton Corker Marshall joined other speakers on a final panel looking at retro-greening and how to revitalize city areas.
A full report on the conference which was sponsored by GreenBlue Urban and supported by media partners Efig, the Construction Industry Council and sister publications World Architecture News and Planning will be published shortly.