The Landscape Institute – ‘Investing Green Infrastructure’

This is a great little animated video about the role of green infrastructure in cities.

We can create an integrated network of green spaces which provides residents with beautiful streetscapes and public spaces whilst manageing water, reducing heat and providing habitat. Integrate the green through street trees, green roofs, gardens, and parks. Be flexible and think outside the turf grass oval.

Invest in Green Infrastructure is produced by the Landscape Institute – UK. It is aimed at inspiring local decision-makers and communities to make the most of their land, while helping wildlife to flourish, reducing flood risk, providing green open space for all, and delivering a wide range of economic, health and community benefits.

Find out more at landscapeinstitute.org/gi

Invest in Green Infrastructure from Room60 on Vimeo.

It’s a bit sketchy

My brain thinks that I can draw, but then when I put my hand on to the paper it appears that I actually cannot. I can see it exactly how I would like it to look, can imagine most details in my head but these ideas don’t travel from there onto the canvas. My mum is a fantastic artist and so I gues thats why I’ve always just assumed that I could.

Anyway,  I’m kicking off throwing myself and my career towards urban design/landscape architecture and a big part of that is being able to get the ideas out of my head and onto paper. I quickly realised that the ideas part isn’t my problem, which is what I was warned about when I first discussed the course with lecturers – apparently many planners like me struggle with this. Well the good news is that that is not a problem! I can be tought! I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably never be one of those natually talented artists (not really talented at anything naturally..) but who knows, maybe you wont notice.

In January I’m going to enroll in Sketching and Drawing class and the TAFE near me. Then after that I’ll start learning the Adobe programs I’ll need – InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and then on to AutoCAD, after which I’ll know if its worth me starting masters :) I know I’m serious because I just cracked open a brand new Macbookpro capable of running all these fantastic peices of programming.

What fanastic new thing are you going to learn in 2013? Come drawing with me?

Open House Perth

Something highly wildly inspiring happened in Perth last weekend (3rd and 4th of November 2012). Open House Perth!

We has an incredible time running around the city checking out our beautiful buildings from all sorts of angles we’ve never seen before.

We were one of the very luck few to get to the top of the Central Park tower (St George) which offered incredible views over the city from Fremantle to Joondalup, and equally incredible winds. Batman makes it look so easy perching on skyscrapers… its all an illusion, that cape would make quite the wind sock I’d imagine. It’s just not practical.

I have a newly re-inspired appreciation for Perth’s architecture and have spent the week spending a lot of time looking up. We don’t have much compared to the “big” cities, but what we do have is rich in history and beauty, you just have to investigate. Like most good things in Perth, you have to dig to find it.

I love that Open House Perth not only included landmarks but also the design studios behind them. As a urban planner /soon to be designer (ok ok its a few years away), I was constantly letting out little sqeals of excitment over seeing the beautiful working spaces our city offers for the industry. Hassell in particular was very exciting to see because I one day hope to call that space my own.

Have a squiz at the photos I took over the weekend here and let me know what you think.

Cannot wait for next year.

Follow up posts to come, perhaps one on my work space at 140william Gordon Stepherson House.

Designed for Water

The sound of the rain on your roof, lovely umbrellas, the gorgeous smell, going out looking for puddles in your wellie boots…

Traditionally when we develop new urban areas we put a whole series of pipes under the ground to capture all of the stormwater running off from the new surfaces (houses, carparks, roads etc.) , which takes all the water away somewhere else to be managed.

Stormwater is water flowing over ground surfaces in natural streams and drains as a direct result of rainfall over a catchment.

This comes from the fundamental idea that humans must control the environment in order to make it comfortable for civalised society. So we put massive pipes which supposed to be designed to capture the HUGE rain events, the kind we get once every 100 years or so and fair enough, I don’t want my house being flooded, even if its once a century. The problem is that these systems capture the water from all rain events even the little ones we get somewhat frequently in winter. It was believed that all rainfall events posed a flooding risk due to the dregree of imperviousness of the built environment. Why is that a problem? Surely that is a good thing, design for worse case scenario and everything smaller is neligible.

Well the problems occur when you consider where all this water ends up. Down the stromwater drains on the side of the road, into a pipe and off to some drainage sump, constructed compensation basin, bushland or watercourse. Sometimes this is far away from where it fell, mostly it is not treated to get rid of contaminants (like hydrocarbons from the road), often you get very pretty pipes jutting out over the water, and sometimes it causes erosion because all the water is hitting one spot. To be honest, they don’t seem to be doing a fantastic job, given the unbelievable amount of chaos and flooding of roads that happens everytime we get a heavy rain in Perth.

The idea behind ‘Water Sensitive Urban Design’ is to design developments so that the rains which happen most often are dealt with on site, as close as possible to where they fell through either infiltration or water capture and reuse leaving only high intensity rainfall evenst to be managed in the old way (making it a bit less stressful on them).

Need a quick brush up on the water cycle? High school too long ago? Agreed.

Nice things about Water Sensitive Urban Design;

– Water can infiltrate into the ground close to the source (recharging local groundwater aquifers)

– It results in better water quality as water is filtered by plants (less contaminants reaching the groundwater). Plants are really great at pulling yucky stuff out of water, a bit like artifical kidneys.

– No more fenced-off-ugly-weed-infested drainage areas (can you tell I dont like them?), you know the ones I mean.

– Pretty public open space areas with lovely vegetated swale, emphemeral (dry in summer, wet in winter) creek beds with lovely rocks, living streams, wetlands etc.

– It can encourage and supports the growth of large trees which keep the water table down, which means less salt and other nastiest like Acid Sulfate Soils, provide shade, and habitat for animals, children and children-like-adults.

Here are some examples to demonstrate;

These are drainage areas in a public open space development (wet in winter, dry in summer).These are biofilters, which are designed to capture run off from hard surfaces like roads and such.There are other things included in Water Sensitive Urban Design like rainwater tanks, permeable paving (which allows water to infiltrate it) and more hard engineering like underground litter traps and soak wells.

Most importantly its about designing urban spaces to work with water rather than against it. Use it rather than collect it and get it as far away as possible.

Have a look at the New Waterways website, its full an fantastic info on the subject.

Thoughts? Would you like some bigger scale examples? Let me know.