The last 14 months have given us all a firm nudge in the direction of nature, the varied limitations of our usual liberties such as visits to pubs, clubs, restaurants, theatre, cinema & concerts has forced even the most garden shy to engage with our surroundings and benefit from the powerful and positive effects that nature has on mental health and wellbeing. This week we celebrate nature and support Mental Health Awareness.
For many we have been forced to stop and re-assess our daily activities, how we work and live and what makes us tick, it would seem that gardens have had a resurgence, not only domestically but also on a national and very visible level. Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on nature this year, inspired by our collective gravitation towards nature during the pandemic.
Much has been written about ‘Biophilia’ a term which describes the human connection to nature and how, in the urban environment especially, designing spaces to enable access to nature is crucial.
In ‘The Economics of Biophilia’ Ben Browning of Terrapin Bright Green delivers multiple descriptors of biophilia and why it is important, but this particular phrase resonates with us – ‘The concept of biophilia implies that humans hold a biological need for connection with nature on physical, mental, and social levels, and that this connection affects our personal well-being, productivity, and societal relationships. Whether one is engaging with nature by walking through a park, by interacting with animals, or simply by having a view of greenery from one’s home or place of work, biophilia has many applications that help transform mundane settings into stimulating environments.’ – frankly we couldn’t have said that better ourselves!
Economics of Biophilia was written in 2012 – 9 years on and there finally seems to be some significant steps towards putting the theory into action. As an industry it is heartening to feel the momentum towards creating access to nature for city dwellers. London is celebrated as a ‘National Park City’ with its network of urban parks scattered throughout the landscape, connecting parks with additional urban greening initiatives is seeing a considerable focus underpinned by local and national government initiatives such as biodiversity net gain legislation, The Mayors Urban Greening Plan which includes the living roofs and living walls audit published both in 2009 and then again in 2019, Green BID Initiatives, and localised greening guidance for councils and communities.
It is without a shadow of a doubt that meaningful nature in cities has far reaching implications to climate change mitigation and to the health of city dwellers. The good news is that the benefits are recognised and action is being taken.
What's coming up to boost nature in London?
The Camden Highline
1.2km, 8 meters above ground delivering access to nature for 20,000 local residents.
The Camden Highline will turn a disused stretch of railway viaduct into a new elevated park and walking route, connecting Camden Gardens in the west to York Way in the east. It will be a space that people will be inspired by, learn from and enjoy, with seating areas, cafés, public art and charitable activities.
We have admired the Highline in New York for over a decade. This will be London’s very own highline.
The Forest for Change – The London Design Biennale
Forest for change is a temporary forest installation which will be installed at Somerset House for The London Design Biennale in June 2021.
The Forest for change designed by Es Devlin raises awareness of the debate to bring more green into global cities for climate change mitigation and urban resilience – asking if we can in fact ‘design a better world?’. Every plant used for this event will be re-homed and planted into the ground.
The temporary Marble Arch Hill will include a viewing platform which allows visitors a unique opportunity to look out over the area from a new perspective as the council and its partners start to transform the local area.
Marble Arch Hill will open in the summer of 2021 for 6 months.
This triptych of examples is illuminating, Camden highline will be a permanent installation, The Forest for Change whilst a temporary installation specifically for the London Design Biennale certainly raises awareness of the debate to bring more green into global cities – asking if we can in fact ‘design a better world?’. Every plant used for this event will be re-homed and planted into the ground. Similarly Marble Arch Hill is a temporary installation which will be in situ for 6 months with all elements of construction being rehomed at the end of its tenure.
Each example will give visitors a chance to experience nature right in the heart of the city and feel a little bit more human, we certainly cannot wait to see them installed.
Are Living Roofs the antidote to the urban greening dilemma?
Living roofs offer a perfect antidote to the urban greening dilemma. Living roofs can provide a garden escape for everyone, a place to rest recuperate, be part of a community and boost biodiversity, they can be retrofitted onto existing roofs, they act as sponges mitigating extreme weather conditions. Green roofs are smart, their collective benefits reach further than many other urban greening solution, thus in our humble opinion – they really could be ‘the answer’. Making cities more sustainable places to live for the benefit of nature and the health and wellbeing of people – what’s not to like?
How can we help?
As installers of all types of Living Roofs the Pritchard and Pritchard team are equipped to install any type of green roof, from a sedum roof to a blue roof and everything in between. Roof gardens for amenity space, biodiverse roofs for plant and animal biodiversity or urban farms up in the clouds.
Our urban greening capabilities extend to the installation and maintenance of living, green facades and traditional landscaping projects. We will install nature at every level.
If you have ambitions to boost access to nature at your home or premises get in touch, we are happy to assist. firstname.lastname@example.org
Mental Health Awareness
Whilst Mental Health week is focused on nature this year, there are multiple avenues of support which can be accessed across the UK, this fantastic art therapy based mental health charity is a perfect example of the variety of support available to those suffering with mental health problems. It is a personal favourite of the Pritchard and Pritchard team and one which we support wholeheartedly.