The Building Centre Presents "Rethinking the Urban Landscape"

Rethinking the Urban Landscape, a (free!) exhibition curated by The Building Centre and Landscape Institute, presents a case for a landscape-first approach to city design and regeneration. The show, which is on view at The Building Centre in London until end of February and then tours, focuses on six problematic areas - from environmental issues to financial planning - and shows international projects that, due to the early procurement of landscape architects, deliver unique solutions.

Small-scale urban parks and community initiatives such as Growing Spaces in Glasgow sit alongside high profile landscape-led developments, such as London’s Olympic Park and the unbuilt Garden Bridge project. Post-earthquake regeneration in Christchurch, New Zealand, adjoins the new central park for Valencia, Spain. Several projects to restore environments in China are also included. The overall message is that all the projects featured have greater environmental and economic benefits because of integrating broad ‘landscape-first’ ideas ahead of imposing piecemeal architectural solutions.

Beijing Green Building Park . Image © Wilder Associates

Water management and designing with water is one of the six topics explored in depth. Exemplar projects show how the creation of ponds, wetlands, swales and basins support the environment by mimicking natural water flow, and how sustainable drainage is needed to improve environments and decrease flooding risks. The exhibition presents a calculation that if the rainwater storage capacity for Derbyshire Street Pocket Park was applied to all of built-up London this would achieve ten times the capacity of the Thames Tideway Tunnel, the highly controversial multibillion pound infrastructure development that is about to be built to deal with floodwater.

Avon River Precinct. Image © BDP

Highlighting the importance of green infrastructure, the exhibition argues that the value should be realised at the concept stage of urban planning if our cities are to become more liveable, healthy and safe. Lewis Blackwell, Executive Director of The Building Centre and co-curator of the exhibition says:

"The development, maintenance and restoration of landscapes that are sustainable and also enjoyable are not 'nice to have' things: they are essential - and they are also actually rather good investments. It's an investment in health but if that seems too long-term – and it shouldn't -then it's easy to note that gardens, parks and roadside trees get an almost immediate payback in improving the value of the property around them.”

Zigong Dongxingsi. Image © Martha Schwartz Partners

Noel Farrer, President of the Landscape Institute, says: “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.”

Press release via The Building Centre

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Cite: "The Building Centre Presents "Rethinking the Urban Landscape"" 30 Jan 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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