Rethinking green infrastructure
14 September 2015
Guest article from the planners helping us to write the urban transformation strategy
Global research shows green infrastructure can deliver significant social, economic and environmental benefits. Linked ‘city ecosystems’ of parks, open spaces, urban trees, streets, squares, woodland and waterways can help create healthier, safer and more prosperous cities.
That’s the idea behind the Cities Alive concept created by Arup, who have been contracted to write the Central to Eveleigh Urban Transformation Strategy.
Tom Armour, leader of global landscape architecture for Arup, explains that research shows contact with nature reduces stress levels, stimulates better health and helps people recover faster from illness, thereby reducing the cost of healthcare.
“A greener city will also increase biodiversity and foster convenient sustainable forms of mobility such as cycling and walking,” he adds. “Where space is at a premium, green roofs and walls can enrich crowded parts of the city and contribute to cleaner air,” he says.
“Delivering Cities Alive will require an integrated, collaborative approach to urban design where landscape architects work with government, authorities, developers and city design consultants,” says Armour. “We have to recognise the potential of green infrastructure, but also understand how it can be integrated with other urban systems like energy, transport, water and waste.”
CASE STUDY: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London
The Olympic Park left a legacy of open space and biodiversity to act as a catalyst for the regeneration of this area. By employing a multifunctional design approach that weaves flood protection and nature into its fabric, it positively demonstrates what a green infrastructure-led design can achieve. Most of the facilities used for the Olympics will continue to be used by local teams and organisations to promote sport and healthy lifestyles. Considering alternate uses for open and public spaces that are adaptable to changing lifestyles is an important thinking point for a Cities Alive initiative. To date Olympic Park has had 4.5 million visitors since opening – a great legacy created by green infrastructure.