The first time I read about the report ‘Cities Alive’ written by ARUP was last year. I am quite encouraged by the way how the green infrastructure improve the quality of city life. This year when I am study MA urban design, it is intended to have a lecture about cities alive. Even though this lecture canceled for some reasons, but I am still want to talk something about cities alive and green infrastructure. As ARUP (2014) mentioned, “The role of green infrastructure (GI) in addressing the challenges of the 21st century cannot be underestimated. It is a natural, service providing infrastructure that is often more cost effective, more resilient and more capable of meeting social, environmental and economic objectives than ‘Grey’ infrastructure.” The citizen want to live in the attractive city rather than the ‘concrete forests’. They expect to embracing with the nature and come to realize that how important the flesh air, clean water, healthy food and good micro-climate are for them. That’s the reason why greener planning policies are been mentioned frequently by designers. More and more sustainable design in our urban environment.
As Lorenz (2013) says, because of today’s speed of urban development and the almost total embeddedness of global processes in our everyday lives, designers of urbanism are better off keeping their eyes wider open than looking only on the site or even town they are about to work on. The situation of urban environment is becoming more and more important for the designer. It is time to bring in GI in urban design. We will explain how the GI improve the quality of city life in three aspects.
The first point is social benefits. GI could encourage healthy and sustainable lifestyles. Public transport and cycling is a better choice for people’s everyday life. For children, playing in and close to the green spaces would be good for their growth. Moreover, GI could support urban community. The green space became a place for a unique and empowered community to evolve. There are also several consistent part-activism movements working their own quieter interventions into the city.
The second point is environment benefits. GI could enable the long-term climate resilience. The effect of climate change is becoming more obviously during these years. GI in the city could bring valid micro-climate to balance the effect of climate change. Moreover, GI could create smart and connected landscape. Nowadays, a ‘smart city’ should be able to negotiate spaces, social networks and technology as smart infrastructure. It is evident that designers in urbanism will have to negotiate these diverging goals if urban areas shall be successfully managed and developed (Lorenz, 2013).
The third point is economic benefits. GI could integrate urban food. Urban agriculture is been wide spread in a number of cities. It is a good strategy to deal with food crisis. Moreover, GI could renew the urban place. This ides of creating dynamic space by reusing abandoned industrial wastelands has captured the imagination of cities (CJC Consulting/ Forestry Commission, 2005). Lastly, GI such as green roof and sustainable drainage could save energy and resource effectively.
The case study I choose is the London Green Grid. The purpose of the green grid is to create natural urban systems that support and permit growth by creating links between places where people live and work, the public transport hubs, the green belt and the River Thames. In terms of GI, this spatial planning initiative is important for its scale, comprehensive integration and dealing with the climate change (Lerner and Poole, 1999).
In conclusion, the project of cities alive try to advocate a more sustainable and natural way to build our cities. It is aiming for the bright future of our planet. As the designer, it is our duty to join in this big project to protect our cities and make the citizen’s life better and better.
Armour, T.; Job, M.; Canavan, R. and Armour, S. (2010) ‘The benefits of large species trees in urban landscapes: a costing, design and management guide’ CIRIA, C712.
ARUP, (2014) Cities Alive. London.
CJC Consulting / Forestry Commission (2005) Economic Benefits of Accessible Green Spaces for Physical and Mental Health: Scoping Study.
Lerner, S. & Poole, W. (1999) The Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space. The Trust for Public Land.
Lorenz, F. (2013) Design Ecologies to Foster Urban Adaptive Capacity. IFLA Journal