‘Rethinking the Urban Landscape’: new exhibition highlights the importance of landscape in shaping our cities

A new exhibition curated by The Building Centre and the Landscape Institute will exemplify how landscape architecture can offer sustainable solutions to the big challenges facing contemporary urban society including flooding and public health.

‘Rethinking the Urban Landscape’, opens at The Building Centre on 8th January sponsored by ACO Technologies plc and Penter.

Showcasing some of the UK’s most powerful contemporary landscape projects including King’s Cross and the Olympic Park, alongside small, community-led schemes including pocket parks and community allotments, the exhibition will highlight the importance of investing in green infrastructure if our cities are to become more liveable, healthy and safe.

Noel Farrer, President of the Landscape Institute, says:

“Proper land use is now becoming a matter of urgency, with concerns such as the housing crisis, flooding, public health and even food shortages coming to the fore. Lives are being threatened and billions of pounds are being wasted for want of earlier stage investment in the landscape.”

“This exhibition is about highlighting the urgent need for a landscape-led approach to our towns and cities. Landscape architects are able to find solutions from within the natural landscape, avoiding highly engineered responses and ultimately creating schemes that are more sustainable, better-designed and nicer to live in.”

Colin Tweedy, Chief Executive of The Building Centre, says:

“While this show features fantastic projects, it’s a major concern that most of our city planning does not meet these standards. We’re delighted to work with the Landscape Institute on this major celebration of the value of good landscape architecture.”

The show’s co-curators, Lewis Blackwell, Executive Director of Strategy at The Building Centre, and Paul Lincoln, Deputy Chief Executive at the Landscape Institute, call for earlier input by landscape architects into major projects in order to create healthier, safer and happier places in which people can live, work and play; and to counter blights on modern life such as flooding and poor air quality.

They argue for more long-term and joined-up thinking from government and developers, to ensure that landscape know-how is embedded into planning, transport and environmental policies.

‘Re-thinking the Urban Landscape’ will run for six weeks from 8th January to 10th February. The exhibition will feature 45 leading contemporary landscape projects from the UK and abroad.

Key facts on the positive impacts of good urban landscapes

  • People who work in buildings who can see green space take almost a quarter less time off than people who cannot (Cities Alive, Arup 2014, p52)
  • Green space can significantly increase land value and the value of nearby buildings (Cities Alive, Arup 2014, p52)
  • Urban parks are 1 per cent cooler than built up areas during the day (Bowler, Boyung Ali, 2010)
  • A 10 per cent increase in tree cover has been associated with a 12 per cent decrease in crime in Baltimore (Austin Troy et al, Landscape and Urban Planning, June 2012)
  • Tests in Manchester showed that a single street tree could reduce storm water run off by between 50 per cent and 62 per cent in a 9 square metre area compared with asphalt (Armstrong Stringer 2013)
  • A 43 year-old intensive green roof in Manchester was found to retain 52 per cent of rainfall (Speak Rothwell 2013)
  • Healthy places are restorative: 90 per cent of those taking part in a study by Mind said that taking exercise outdoors had a big impact on how they felt (Mind, 2007)

Due to its popular demand the Rethinking the Urban Landscape exhibition has been extended. The exhibition will be on show up until Thursday 26 February at The Building Centre. There will also be an accompanying event on Monday 9 February called How do you pay for green infrastructure in an age of austerity?