Think Tank: London Beyond the New Normal

Posted on

Think Tank: London Beyond the New Normal
Martin Brown and Claire Thirlwall
Exploring the role and influence of the (landscape) architect.

Following the think tank from earlier in the year we updated and recapped on the London National City park movement, the London Plan and how landscape architects can contribute to the emerging rethinking of carbon (under the banner of Reimagine Carbon) and help rebalance CO2 through living, ecosystems that we influence. (See Carbon is Not the Enemy article in Nature)

Designing for humans and human centric activity emerged as a common theme, rather than as we do, designing for the motor vehicle, Examples from Lima (bad) and Spain (good) were cited. Suggestions for future think tanks included exploring design for human scale, and looking at whether existing design codes, such as Secure by Design, can meet the aspirations of the National City Park concept. This is of course a key aspect of the Living Building Challenge and Well Build, standards that are raised and covered in many Specifi events.

Lighting professionals participating in the think tank, led to an interesting discourse on the relationship of lighting and urban green spaces.
Secure by Design and other ‘planning’ standards may be preventing progress on night time lighting for human health ( think nocturnal biophilia and circadian lighting), as a result of focusing on lighting for security and exclusion.

Discussions on the National Park City ranged from avoiding another level of planning authority, protection and regeneration of existing space, to creating small pockets of new green space with new developments and restorations. And of course, we need to value green space for people use and enjoyment, not only because it provides ecological or natural capital.

How rewilding fits into the park city, urban landscape architecture raised interesting, positive and negative viewpoints. Do we allow connection with nature to expand to let nature do its own thing, how much do we control nature? It was noted that maybe allowing areas to develop into the ‘climax habitat’ for that area isn’t realistic or practical within an urban setting. Part of the art of landscape architecture is to balance planting mixes that have an ecological benefit with the demands of an urban site.