“Climate change” – it’s a term that we’re all familiar with. Whether we’re putting the recycling out, catching up with the news or buying a coffee, climate change is part of our daily awareness. We’re all faced with choices every day on how we can do our bit. But what about the bigger picture? Individual choices and lifestyle changes can only do so much: how can those of us who work in the construction industry make professional choices that help shape a wider response, with a measurably bigger impact?
As a landscape architect, I’ve always felt that our work directly addresses these issues. Our role has always been to help clients consider the landscape with climate change in mind: we work to increase biodiversity, create habitats, keep trees and ecosystems from the threat of overdevelopment, design sustainable drainage solutions, encourage sustainable transport and improve air quality.
However, the recent news that UK biodiversity is in decline makes for hard reading. And it’s difficult not to feel as though our best responses to this at present – the introduction of the Environment Bill and the idea of “biodiversity net gain” – are too little, too late. Our landscape is under huge pressure from agriculture, house building, flooding, rising sea levels, and more frequent extreme heat events. The onus is on us to go above and beyond, ensuring that biodiversity net gain (BNG for short) isn’t just an add-on, but is integral to our designs.
This is the approach we’ve taken on a recent project at Granton Station in Edinburgh, which has been selected as a case study for COP26 by the International Council on Monuments and Sites in collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council. The project centres on repurposing a heritage building – a disused train station which once served the local gasworks – as a new community hub, fronted by a public open space. Our landscape team were involved from the earliest stages of the project, working with a visionary team at the Council to create a series of rain gardens, which store and discharge rainwater from the building and the surrounding public realm.
Moving away from traditional methods of surface water drainage to rain gardens – which use plant life to retain and filter run-off water – has a number of benefits. For one, it gives the opportunity to create a unique habitat where conventional wisdom would call for asphalt, paving or other kinds of hard landscaping. Rain gardens are also cheaper and easier to install, and significantly reduce the amount of plastic buried in the ground. And, of course, they add to the beauty of a space – creating green areas that enhance wellbeing, and attracting birds and insects onto the site.
We’re thrilled that this approach has been recognised by COP26, and will be attending the conference from 8th–10th November to see how our project fits into the wider picture. We’ll also be sharing the thoughts of some of our younger colleagues at ADP, giving an insight into how the next generation of professionals hope to respond to the climate emergency.
Head of Landscape
News | 5th March 2020
ADP is working with JAHAMA and Strutt and Parker on the delivery of a new 100-bedroom hotel and leisure complex at the Cambuslang Institute. Public consultations took place last week for the £15m development, which includes a restaurant, café, bar and fitness club. The scheme is to be built on unoccupied land east of the Clydebridge steelworks.
News | 7th June 2019
ADP’s zero-carbon development in Oxfordshire will provide new homes, retail, and community facilities.