Also referred to as biophilic design, renaturing or rewilding, nature-first planning goes beyond planting trees and declaring an area a ‘green space.’Heatherwick Studio
The partly demolished structure of what was once a shopping mall has been an eyesore for years to the residents of Nottingham, a central England city of about 324,000.
But this year, the abandoned mall in Nottingham’s city centre – built on an area called Broad Marsh – is set to come back to life through a regeneration project designed to bring wildlife and wetlands back to the city.
“The majority and key focus of the space is creating green biodiverse space through regenerative design,” says Lisa Finlay, a partner at London-based Heatherwick Studio, which crafted the vision for Broad Marsh.
To create wetland habitats, Broad Marsh plans to introduce sustainable urban drainage systems, which use natural landscape designed to clean and contain stormwater. To avoid demolishing what’s left of the shopping mall structure, nature will be encouraged to “take over the frame in places” with climbing plants.
It’s urban design that puts nature first, and it’s a movement that’s gaining momentum across the globe.
“There’s growing recognition that nature is a big part of the answer to the problems of society,” says Tim Beatley, professor of sustainable communities at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture and founder of a network called Biophilic Cities. “We’ve seen a rise in interest in nature-first design – it’s become a really important subject in urban design and architecture.”
Also referred to as biophilic design, renaturing or rewilding, nature-first planning goes beyond planting trees and declaring an area a “green space.” It could mean building oyster reefs – as was done in New York – to clean and restore harbour waters, or erecting dirt bridges to allow mountain lions to cross safely over highways, as Los Angeles is now doing to connect the fragmented habitats of its big cats.
It can cost more to build with nature in mind – to support its program to plant two billion trees by 2031, the Canadian government is investing …
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