A selection of 2019 Landscape Institute Awards winners that showcase the innovative ways in which landscape interventions can help tackle the climate and biodiversity emergency
Opening up nature to Londoners
Winner: Kinnear Landscape Architects Ltd for the ‘Adding value through landscape’ category
The Walthamstow Reservoirs is a 211-hectare site within the Lea Valley Green belt. The site previously had limited access and was surrounded by neighbourhoods with deficient access to nature. Through this project the scale of space opened up to public is remarkable in London – opening up the Wetlands to public access whilst protecting a sensitive nature reserve with SSSI, SPA and Ramsar status. All of this has been achieved whilst also accommodating the operational requirements of Thames Water.
Opening up the Wetlands has been significant due to the large amount of associated health, well-being, educational, ecological and economic benefits. Today the wetlands are integral in the Lea Valley network, increasing access to nature for the surrounding neighbourhoods and drawing visitors from the whole of London and beyond. The amount of footfall has so far reached three times the initial predication, in a third of the time.
The team successfully navigated the complexities of the site, clients, and funding groups to create a seamless integration of architecture and landscape. KLA has embraced the unique character of the site by reusing industrial remnants and building on existing materials, whilst enhancing the habitats. The result is that the Wetlands have become a vibrant public space which encourages learning and experiencing wildlife, reaching neighbouring communities and visitors from afar. The Wetland site also promotes sustainable travel by encouraging visitors to cycle, walk or use public transport to access the site.
Reclaiming city streets
Winner: ARUP for the ‘Design for a temporary landscape’ category
How we live, work and connect with people in our cities is a key challenge for the 21st century. FitzPark was a high-quality temporary space in central London created by Arup, to promote a change in people’s attitude towards roads and inspire what city streets can be in the future.
The installation was created in London’s Fitzrovia area and included informal seating, café space, work, play, events and education; it aim was to raise awareness of air quality issues, create more space for people, promote health and wellbeing, support local business, as well as improving the look and human experience of the city. The scheme was monitored throughout its duration in order to understand the social value of urban environments. A pre and post evaluation study of the project will enable the impact of the scheme to be captured and communicated and inform how projects like this can improve the quality of life for those living in busy and polluted cities.
Landscape Belt of Xianglu Bay Beach in Zhuhai
Storm resistance through natural means
Winner: LAY-OUT Planning Consultants in the ‘Dame Sylvia Crowe Award for outstanding international contribution to People, Place and Nature’ category
Extreme weather is a danger to many and in the southeast coastal area of China, typhoons often occur in the summer and autumn, with heavy rains and tidal waves. Zhuhai, which is located in the west side of Zhujiang River, has always suffered these tropical cyclones.
The site at Xianglu Bay stretches for about 1.5km and is a popular space among local people. However, the breakwater along the road did not provide a cushion to protect the seaside area like the beach before it. It also blocked the link between city and sea and the quality and ecology of the water was affected, with typhoons breaking the embankment every year.
By restoring the beach along Xianglu Bay, the design team constructed a clean beach occupying 90,000m2. The soft beach reduces the power of waves and by using natural methods to deal with disaster, they have established a new standard for the restoration of a coastal waterfront in a typhoon-prone region. The judges thought this landscape masterplan was an outstanding example of how to protect coastal regions from storms, while at the same time creating a beautiful linear coastal park and improving biodiversity.
What’s Growing on the Greenway
Improving biodiversity and connecting communities with nature
Winner: The Paul Hogarth Company’s Anthony McGuigan and Darren McKinstry for both the ‘Communications and presentation’ category and the prestigious LI President’s Award
Connecting people to the green space and biodiversity around them is crucial to protecting our environment for future generations. The Connswater Community Greenway does this brilliantly through a 9km linear park through east Belfast, following the course of the Connswater, Knock and Loop Rivers – creating vibrant, attractive, safe and accessible parkland for leisure, recreation, community events and activities.
It has now taken this to the next level with What’s Growing on the Greenway (WGOTGW). Inspired by the New York High Line’s ‘Plant of the Week’ blog the two landscape architects responsible for the project decided to write their own weekly blog to encourage and celebrate the communities’ interaction with the new landscape. This weekly blog grew in popularity and spawned two photographic exhibitions and a book detailing a year of exploring testing and learning about the developing connection between people, place and nature in this revitalised urban landscape.
This project is unusual, as following a significant capital investment, project professionals move on to the next place and rarely have the opportunity to engage with the people experiencing the place they helped to shape and create.
The WGOTGW process allowed the landscape professionals to explore, test and learn about the developing connection between people, place and nature within the revitalised urban landscape. By discussing the new and existing plants they wanted to help create a connection between people and the nature they encounter every day. The approach wanted to highlight that plants can be of interest to everyone and to encourage people to explore further and stay longer on the Greenway all year round.
This Lottery-funded project has a goal to increase physical activity levels by at least 2% in East Belfast – if such an increase in use of the park and its facilities is achieved it would create the value needed to cover the cost of the project over its lifetime.