Green Visions, by Patrick Flannery Walker

Please find below the updates on Patrick’s research into the greenspaces in cities.

Update #1:

More than half the world’s population live in cities. The people who inhabit these cityscapes are negatively affected by the growing pollution rates which contribute to climate change. Buildings alone consume vast amounts of energy, and emit huge amounts of C02 into our atmosphere. For this reason, the need for green spaces has become more crucial now than ever before. Atmospheric pollution puts both physical and mental strain on civilisation. Green spaces in terms of parks, community gardens, allotments and even your friendly houseplants are highly useful in helping our planet and easing these strains.

For some time now, projects have been developing across the globe. For example, the guerilla gardening schemes created in California by L.A Green Grounds to the vertical gardens presented by the Via Verde team in Mexico City. Both produced through the re-use or transformation of a developed space rather than the need for a demolition and rebuild process. Or the continuous efforts by Boeri Studio based in Italy, which produced the magnificent green towers in Milan named Bosco Verticale.

I feel that the beauty that connects the branches of these projects is in the creation of a space in which city meets wilderness. The Phoenix Gardens and the Victoria Embankment Gardens are two of London’s green zones that embrace the ideas behind these schemes. A selection of photographs below show some snippets from my visit to the sites.

Update #2:

Throughout time the built environment has altered and shifted again and again. The fabric of our world and the civilians that inhabit our landscapes are affected by this progression.

Studies and the ever growing body of research show that greenspaces can, and will improve humans’ physical and mental health. Anxiety, stress, blood pressure among many other human conditions will be exacerbated through lack of access to vegetation and clean air. Blue-green infrastructure, an architectural and nature based development programme has been set up to help ease the strain. Community gardens/allotments, micro baskets, green roofs/walls, rain gardens, parks and ponds are all examples of this category of landscape architecture. “Its presence can improve air and water quality, and carbon storage; enhance flood and temperature regulation; reduce noise; and improve resource efficiency, biodiversity and amenity value”. (Imperial College)

Amid the lockdown we are experiencing, many people will find themselves completely shut off from the natural environment. The video attached to this post documents some of the plants and trees in and around the parks in my local area. Specifically the Thames Path from Hampton Wick to Hampton Court, and the Woodland Gardens situated in Bushy Park. I want it to take the viewer on a tour of the spaces I’ve passed through on my walks. It’s a digital form of escapism, an anti-anxiety piece in this current state we find ourselves.

Update #3:

‘Gradually the plant engineer removed the tubing to use to patch the other outworn equipment at the Hediondo. The boiler looked like an old-fashioned locomotive without wheels. It had a big door in the center of it and a low fire door. Gradually it became red and soft with rust and gradually the mallow weeds grew up and around it and the flaking rust fed the weeds. Flowering myrtle crept up its sides and the wild anise perfumed the air about it. Then someone threw out a datura root and the thick fleshy tree grew up and the great white bells hung down over the boiler door and at night the flower smelled of love and excitement, an incredibly sweet and moving odor.’

John Steinbeck – Cannery Row.

The quote above from Steinbeck’s book powerfully draws our attention to the evident bonds between nature and the built world. In the past I found there was a clash between these two forms. Over time, however, I have become intrigued by how they  interact with one another. In the process of rust and decay, insects and wildlife can find habitats and food for their life’s cycle. Nature and the built world can often conflate rather than fight each other.

Humans have also come to admire these forgotten spaces and places. The sight, smell, and adventure of the world’s ruins and remnants of the past, invite us to explore them. Looking and focusing on the nooks and crannies in my suburban area this form of beauty can be found in abundance.

Update #4:

Green projects across London are moving the city forward. Becoming a healthier home for its people and wildlife. This movement has come a long way since the age of the Victorians, who pioneered the first public parks as “lungs for the cities”. It has gone so far to the point, where on 22nd July 2019, London became the world’s first National Park City.

I spent an afternoon observing a wild zone in South London, situated in between Vauxhall bus station and the enormous amounts of construction sites that have engulfed the area.

The patch of land is untamed, plants have been allowed to live freely and coil themselves through the hoardings that surround abandoned lots. I encountered butterflies, bees, wasps, spiders, and many other forms of insects. The sound of grasshopper’s were uncannily similar to that of a countryside setting. There was a sense of ease whilst roaming through this forgotten space. I wonder if more unused territory were given back to nature rather than built over, how many positive outcomes would arise?

Climate and Cities is a collective
which investigates the interactions
of climate and cities through
creative research and projects.

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