29 JUNE 2017
EDP attended the Landscape Institute (LI) conference in Manchester last week titled ‘Landscape as Infrastructure’. LI President Merrick Denton-Thompson introduced the conference by declaring: ‘We need to think very carefully about how we connect with the public. What we really are after is a cultural shift. We are in a unique position at the interface between people and natural systems.’
Speakers at the conference demonstrated the ability of professionals to make a positive difference, in projects as diverse as a flood relief strategy for the North East and ways of thinking about parks to ensure that they provide as much benefit as possible to refugees.
Kate Collins, director at Sheils Flynn, talked about the new flood strategy for the area around Hull, where the main message is stakeholder engagement and the value of a landscape-led approach.
Professor Xiangrong Wang, leading professor and vice dean of the School of Landscape Architecture at Beijing Forestry University, talked about restoring and improving historic towns such as Suzhou in the Taiha Lake basin by reconnecting the towns with surrounding countryside in a manner that was traditional.
AECOM’s Eric Hallquist also spoke about water, through an insight into the practice’s projects around the world. At the North West Cambridge development, which is effectively creating a new city quarter, he talked about how hard the western edge of the project has to work, buffering noise from the M11 but also preserving and enhancing an existing brook and creating a space for leisure and an engagement with nature. He also explained how different planting regimens in the Middle East could have a significant effect on CO2 emissions by reducing demand for desalinated water.
The concept of natural capital accounting was explored by consultant Jonathan Buckley, who helped to develop the Envision sustainability ratings system that aims ‘to demonstrate that landscape is a good investment’. He argued that ‘the most liveable cities are also the most competitive and landscape is a significant contributor to liveability’. Based largely on hard-nosed business analyses, such as the Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rankings, Envision measures seven systems, one of which is landscape.
Concluding the day LI Chief Executive Dan Cook encouraged delegates to ‘help us make the case for landscape and infrastructure’ by tacking issues including: changing planning mindsets; health and wellbeing; education and children’s needs; resilience; biodiversity and soil quality; food and water security; economic growth; intangibles such as tranquillity and beauty.
On the second day, delegates had the opportunity to stretch their legs with a series of site visits, hosted by developers, of current and future developments in one of the infrastructure capitals of the UK.
EDP’s Landscape Team are actively involved in the green and landscape infrastructure projects across the UK, driving a landscape-led approach to design wherever possible to achieve integrated design solutions for our clients.
Thanks to the LI for furthering our exposure to the application of this approach.
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