Building with Nature: a framework to inspire the next generation of placemaking.
Green Infrastructure plays a vital role in improving the health and wellbeing of people, whilst improving opportunity for biodiversity to thrive. In these uncertain times increasingly defined by urgent climate crisis, the catastrophic collapse of ecosystems worldwide, and the social and economic impacts of a global pandemic, the role of providing adequate, sustainable and dynamic green spaces to mitigate some of these factors is more important than ever.
Building with Nature (BwN) is a set of standards designed by and for industry professionals, to ensure that all development proactively tackles climate, ecological and public health emergencies. It aims to support new practices by distilling essential actions, policies and targets into practical knowledge for specialists working in design, planning, architecture and construction. By using the BwN standards throughout the design and construction process, and by applying them in management and stewardship, the vital contribution of green infrastructure to sustainable development goals can be maintained, and exemplary practice can be made mainstream.
Two developments which have been accredited with a Building with Nature Award offer practitioners insight into how holistic, sustainable and equitable design solutions can be made:
Knights Park in Cambridge, built by developer Hill is a zero-carbon, thoughtfully planned, low rise urban development of 184 homes. The development is defined by a car free landscaped avenue that connects to cycle and pedestrian routes and nearby amenities. Residents look across trees and greenery, most homes have street level front doors, while gardens, upper floor terraces and streets have been designed with people in mind to create a sense of layered sociability. The design is complemented by a water recycling system, a district heating network and an underground waste and recycling system.
Photo author unknown. Sourced from https://www.knightspark-eddington.co.uk/
Oakfield in Swindon, developed by Nationwide Building Society in collaboration with Igloo Regeneration includes quiet tertiary streets and shared spaces with a focus on cycling and walking. There are separate walking and cycling routes, allotments, public and private green spaces, a community forest, play spaces and a new community space. Arranging homes around communal courts is designed to foster community spirit, and a mix of traditional back gardens and communal courtyard gardens aim to provide people with a variety of amenity spaces.
Photo author unknown. Sourced from https://oakfieldswindon.co.uk/
The two case studies are examples of developments which have placed green infrastructure at the forefront of good urban design. They are good examples of how nature- based solutions can be integrated with the built environment. SuDS, active travel, integral green infrastructure features and interactive, therapeutic landscapes are considerations which can be embedded early in the design process, and the BwN standards provide a set of benchmarks which ensure their sustainability and longevity are maintained throughout the lifespan of the development.
Jerome, G. Building with Nature: Quality Standards Driving Innovation, Urban Design Group Journal 162, Spring 2022 p.31-33