The best developers have recognised this. They see the value in treating landscape as primary infrastructure, recognising that it is an essential part of what makes a place successful. They lead with the landscape and then consider the built fabric. It helps to create a sense of community – bringing excitement as a site evolves over time and then encouraging people to meet and congregate, not simply to use as a thoroughfare.
Relatively modest levels of investment in developing a landscape strategy can balance seemingly conflicting issues - how spaces can be used, where best to site new buildings amongst the historic context, how to deal with practical aspects such as utilities and servicing yet deliver a beautiful, robust and manageable townscape. This approach works well across all sorts of developments but is especially important in high-density urban place-making where intelligent landscape design can maximise property values.
A landscape led approach for the CCOS is essential to deliver the best outcomes. The site area has suffered from poor planning and design in the past, leaving a disjointed set of inflexible buildings and spaces that discourage practical use. There is now an opportunity to do things differently but a cultural shift is required to think landscape first. If development is allowed to happen in a piecemeal manner, with ‘landscaping’ left as an afterthought, then the opportunity will have been missed.
Just think how the development at King’s Cross has been evolving. Argent has put the public realm first and has implemented a series of urban spaces around which buildings have been springing up. They’ve managed to integrate historic buildings and new-build around a new public square and existing features such as the canal and nature reserve. Argent understood the importance of putting in landscape infrastructure first to create a ‘place’ from the beginning that would work for residents, users and those simply passing through. The CCOS site would benefit from a similar approach.
To do so is a delicate balancing act. The CCOS should be a new city quarter, not a ‘development’ that is alien to all that is around it. That requires coherent character and a sense of continuity which partly comes from the choice of basic materials. The outcomes from the CCOS design charrette offer a glimpse of the potential look and feel and are a good starting point. Specific suggestions included;
- Extensive use of roof top spaces – surely a no-brainer given the potential for all types of buildings (good examples elsewhere include roof gardens at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Birmingham Library and lots of offices, bars and hotels)
- Provision of active public terraces over service areas and car parking (such as the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith and the new community gardens on the South Bank Centre)
- Imaginative public realm at ground level incorporating appropriate planting and streetscape (such as Brentford Market Place, Manchester’s Urban Orchard or Brindley Place in Birmingham).
I hope that the benefits of a landscape led approach will be recognised and grasped. It’s a great opportunity to bring change for the better and avoid falling into the trap of thinking that landscape is just about planting a few trees at the end.”
Greysmith Associates http://greysmithassociates.com/
Luke very kindly gave Look! the following links as comparable examples of such initiatives;
Roof gardens / terraces
Great Ormond Street Roof Garden - http://www.gosh.nhs.uk/news/press-releases/morgan-stanley-garden-great-ormond-street-hospital-gosh
Lyric Hammersmith Roof Garden - https://www.groundwork.org.uk/Sites/london/pages/the-lyric-lon
Varsity Hotel & Spa Cambridge - http://www.thevarsityhotel.co.uk/roof-garden.php
Great John Street Rooftop Lounge Manchester - http://www.eclectichotels.co.uk/great-john-street/roof-top-lounge.aspx
Birmingham Library Roof Garden - http://www.frostslandscapes.co.uk/case-studies/library-of-birmingham
Birmingham City Centre - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/stem-awards/design/designing-green-cities
Brentford Market Place - http://kland.co.uk/projects/brentford-high-street/#gallery-brentford-market-place
Manchester Garden City (incl. Urban Orchard) - http://cityco.com/project/manchester-garden-city
Green car parks
National Grid Car Park, Warwick - http://nationalgridconnecting.com/wonder-wall
Please see http://www.lookstalbans.org/ccos.html for all CCOS updates