February 13, 2017 \ City & Land
by Andrew Bateman
The big issue for our cities and it is becoming a game changer, is air quality. For far too long now the agenda of motor transport has ‘rode’ roughshod over the experience of the individual within our urban environments. Sometimes what we see on the ground is baffling as vast swathes of open space are still given over to the right of vehicular access – sadly to the detriment of folk on foot. And it is killing us.
Our City and Land team, much as they would like to be part of a general movement to counter that emphasis, recognise that the answer lies in making sure each project we are involved in, emphasises the qualities that we experience on foot in the form of redistribution of space to walk, creation of spaces that breathe by providing recreational and release landscaping and crucially allow space for nature in the form of urban landscaping.
This year this has taken the form of helping the Scotstoun Park community group reinforce their vision for their park, support the Gorbals/Laurieston community redistribute the pedestrian space of Gorbals Street as a focus for the emerging population, seen the gardens at the heart of the Glasgow Caledonian University revisioning, spring into life. At the same time in the east at the University of Edinburgh Kings Campus envisioning a new pedestrian friendly landscape setting for pioneering science, and in the south likewise at Bangor and Wolverhampton University where gardens are the coat hanger on which the functional campus’s are delivered.
The air we breath and the air we see, breathing and seeing, set against the green of gardens rather than car stores, street settings rather than car queues and parks rather than vehicle dumps is obviously a complex mix. And it is not just vehicles or policies such as historic support for the serial polluter of diesel car production – the drive to sustainable energy has resulted in a proliferation of bio mass and wood burning stove with their fumes strangling us in the name of renewable energy. There needs to be policy overlap consideration, but what we can do is ensure that environments are shaped for the needs of human beings as part of a bigger programme of joined up thinking.
What we at City and Land realise is that we are only a part of a planning policy for ensuring our cities are habitable. We want to do our bit, explore new ways of working with communities, invigorate our processes of imagining alternative scenarios, develop briefing for the thresholds between buildings and public space, but in this we need others to be part of that effort to construct a decent environment for the current and importantly the next generations.