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Quality and Audit

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Novell Tullett has teamed up with Hydrock Highways Engineers to offer a comprehensive quality & audit service for highways and public realm design schemes. Novell Tullett’s long-standing experience of the delivery of street and place schemes, will ensure that quality of place will merit equal consideration with that of safety. Our collaboration with Hydrock raises the value of the safety audit service to local authorities and private developers alike.
Those seeking to restore character and sense of place in locations which has previously been dominated by traffic should contact us.

maginifier Highways

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A welcoming courtyard garden for the elderly

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Concept design reduce

Early concept: An easily navigable yet rich space

‘The outside is as important as the inside’ was the brief for a development of new apartments for elderly people with extra care needs. Easy access to a safe, navigable and stimulating outdoor space is well recognised as an important tool in maintaining mental and physical wellbeing. Subsequently each of the 60 flats has a private balcony or ground floor terrace for residents to enjoy as well as a central courtyard garden.

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Out damned spot

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movement of all 1755b

Relax, no murder has been committed – the stain is mulberry juice.

We were lucky to be given the key to a secret courtyard in Bristol which is filled by a mature Mulberry tree – Morus nigra – hung with fruit. The dark, black-red fruit are like loganberries, sweet, juicy and easily crushed. Our scrumpings went into a glamorous, late summer party cake, got crushed into juice and eaten with muesli for breakfast – local, versatile fruit full of vitamins!

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URBAN BEES AND THE UK PAVILION AT MILAN EXPO 2015

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pool 029 72

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chatting with Joe Wheatcroft in Source – a great deli in St Nicks market Bristol – led me to a close encounter with some urban bees last week. It was Joe’s idea to get some hives located on the market roof and after several years of trying, an approach to the new managers of the market paid off. Since the late spring Joe’s bee hives have been insitu with 2 colonies of bees now being built up.

Unseen by those shopping below, the hives are located within the shelter of high parapet walls, the roof is sunny, quiet, undisturbed and remarkably close to large sources of pollen. The landscape of Castle Park provides a huge reservoir of tree pollen with Limes being favourite species, but there are also a lot of cherry trees, satellite beds of vegetables and lavender hedges.

The beekeeper Quintin, with his Iraqi beekeeping mentor, deconstructs the hive, lifting out screens alive with bees dazed by pollen and a gentle puff of smoke. The hives have the brood area in the lowest part of the structure closest to the entrance. Here the Queen lays her eggs in a rugby shaped arc and the eggs are tended by the drones. In the layers above this the bees lay down pollen which becomes honey once it is regurgitated and the moisture levels reduced. Here it is stored for the winter and sealed off by a layer of wax once the cell is full. These upper frames are only taken by the beekeeper once he is sure that the hive has enough food store to last the winter.

According to the Guardian:
Bees pollinate a third of everything we eat and play a vital role in sustaining the planet’s ecosystems. Some 84% of the crops grown for human consumption – around 400 different types of plants – need bees and other insects to pollinate them to increase their yields and quality. These include most fruits and vegetables, many nuts, and plants such as rapeseed and sunflowers that are turned into oil, as well as cocoa beans, coffee and tea. Crops grown as fodder for dairy cows and other livestock are also pollinated by bees. And it’s not only food crops that rely on bee pollination, cotton does as well. As a result, annual global crop pollination by bees is estimated to be worth $170bn.

So it isn’t just for honey making that the bee performs a vital role in food production. Yet colonies of bees are vulnerable and may be lost to colony collapse, falling prey to Varroa mite and other parasites. In the southwest we lost 30% of colonies over last winter alone, so encouraging and sustaining bee populations should be high on everyone’s list.

Our colleague, artist Wolfgang Buttress, (designed the columns in our scheme at the Podium in Broadmead) has recently completed the extraordinary scheme for the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo which is designed to highlight the plight of the honeybee. You can see Wolf’s evocative structure on the link below.

Uk pavilion Milan expo 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links

http://www.source-food.co.uk/
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/17/why-are-bees-important
https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=104&v=vjQnOdZ9DHA
http://www.wolfgangbuttress.com/expo-2015/

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MILFORD DOCK

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We are delighted that our public realm scheme for the regeneration of Milford Dock in Pembrokeshire has received planning consent. It is part of a £70 million transformation of the historic fishing town by the Port of Milford Haven which will combine traditional maritime industry with tourism, retail, leisure and housing. With our colleagues Turley, we have incorporated public spaces, new cycle and pedestrian routes, shared space and a seaside garden as well as a special ecological area where the freshwater stream meets the harbour.

Here are some of our sketches and visualisations of what is to come.

View from sea 1

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FAIRCHARM HARDWORKS

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FAIRCHARM HARDWORKS

Having discussed the ecological aspects of the Faircharm Estate design in a previous post (12th December) I though it was time to review other facets of the design.

Creekside Context

The Faircharm Estate is located on Deptford Creek at the crossing of the footbridge, railway and Docklands Light Railway that slides between Deptford Town Centre and Greenwich. Sitting between busy, diverse Deptford and historic Greenwich, the Creek is a rift through infrastructure, industry and unique ecology, and it is here that energetic creative practice finds a place. The Faircharm development draws on all these influences to provide an engaging landscape for existing communities and new residents.

The Faircharm Peninsula

At the confluence of the Ravensbourne basin with the River Thames, Deptford Creek forms the tidal reach of the river, cutting through the ridges of strong clay at the faultline of low gravel and sands. On either side lie the two villages of Deptford and Greenwich which are built on higher ground.

Key pieces of Victorian and 20th century infrastructure surround the site including Bazalgette’s pumping station and fuel storage sheds; the steel lifting bridge; Mumford Mill and the listed brick viaduct which formed London’s original rail link to Kentish farms. The dominant brick buildings are key characters within the mix of concrete DLR viaducts, glass residential developments and the leftover landscape of undeveloped bomb sites.

The site is formed of four deep-plan buildings, served by a narrow, central, access passage leading to the creek and a space, once docks, now the site’s car park. The Faircharm estate is made from tucked away yards and hidden slots between the remains of the industrial buildings; the stoops and stairs with craning views upstream on the hard flank of the Creek; these characterful spaces are embraced in the design of the landscape.

Responding to the Creek

The landscape and public realm proposals have been shaped by several key technical, legal and eclogical constraints which affect the continued use and protection of the creek wall by its many stakeholders.
The positive outcome of working with these constraints has been to consider the wall as a key landscape element which is a balcony to the creek, rather than a barrier to it. Our proposal is to create modest and controlled access up on to the thickest sections of the wall. The pockets of colonised planting which have self-seeded on thin layers of accumulated soil will be left in situ.

The Proposal

The intention of the proposals was to find an approach, language and method in which to found a new set of mixed-use public spaces that complements and supports the existing ecological, social and spatial networks creating a unique and robust set of public spaces which encourages engagement with wild landscape and creative public life.
To structure this work, the project is broken down into three interconnected elements – each drawing on the industrial heritage of the existing context. These are:

A Shared Street: Access for residential and business vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians

The proposal extends the permeability of the Crossfields Estate, which lies opposite the entrance on Creekside road, into Faircharm via a central Street. This is a shared hard surface which provides service access for vehicles and a pedestrian route to the creek and the proposed public activities at its edge. The surface is laid with Ultifinish, an ashaplt with the exposed aggregates which is rich in colour and texture.

Off the main route areas intended only for pedestrians are paved with clay blocks, this softer smaller scale unit is also used in the entrances to the buildings emphasizing the routes.

Within the street, building-mounted lights and signage keep the shared surface clear and give the tall space a more intimate scale in the evening.

Courtyards and Gardens: A set of spaces hollowed out by the architect’s interventions into the retained brick structures.

Cutting away the core of the existing building blocks allows daylight into their deep plans and reveals a pair of sheltered courtyards surrounded by the activity and life of the studios and workspaces that surround them at ground level. The gallery and the café will be encouraged to spill out into the outdoor spaces.

The courtyards are paved with grey granite paving setts in a running bond across the space, binding the materials of the buildings together with the planting. The narrow entrance to the southerly courtyard has clay pavers for a softer feel.

Creek Edge: A thickened ecological landscape alongside the water

This area has two types of surfacing. Soft impact areas are laid with pale red Cedec which is a permable aggregate with a neutral pH which will be seeded with native plants. The beauty of this material is that it can be shaped and seeps through this area of the side like the movement of water and yet is still practical and strong enough to take maintenance vehicles. Outside the vehicle paths a growing medium made of crushed aggregates will be seeded.

The area to the south has a harder feel as there is occasional access for maintenance vehicles. It is paved with a combination of recycled concrete sleepers and tumbled setts, laid flexibly, with joints again seeded with native plants. The relaxed way in which these materials are used allows them to interact in a fluid way.

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FAIRCHARM ECOLOGY

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FAIRCHARM ECOLOGY

Novell Tullett has recently completed the design for a mixed use (light industrial, residential and commercial) scheme in Deptford, east London, the Faircharm Estate. The ecological design was unusual and is described below.

Creekside Context

The Faircharm Estate is located on Deptford Creek at the crossing of the footbridge, railway and Docklands Light Railway that slides between Deptford Town Centre and Greenwich. Sitting between busy, diverse Deptford and historic Greenwich, the Creek is a rift through infrastructure, industry and unique ecology, and it is here that energetic creative practice finds a place. The Faircharm development draws on all these influences to provide an engaging landscape for existing communities and new residents.

At the confluence of the Ravensbourne basin with the River Thames, Deptford Creek forms the tidal reach of the river, cutting through the ridges of strong clay at the faultline of low gravel and sands. On either side lie the two villages of Deptford and Greenwich which are built on higher ground.

The site is formed of four deep-plan buildings, served by a narrow, central, access passage leading to the creek and a space, once docks, now the site’s car park. The Faircharm estate is made from tucked away yards and hidden slots between the remains of the industrial buildings; the stoops and stairs with craning views upstream on the hard flank of the Creek; these characterful spaces are embraced in the design of the landscape.

Habitats within the existing site

On the face of it there is little wildlife interest on this urban site. In fact, despite the limited opportunity, the diversity of colonising vegetation is surprising. The flora is characteristically wild, ruderal species exploiting every available crevice. On closer inspection the site supports a highly diverse range of wildflower species.

Counter-intuitively places like this are important for maintaining wild populations in an area. Places like Faircharm help reduce the chance of local extinctions, and if managed properly can considerably enhance the wildlife potential. Retaining this wildness and natural colonisation is a key concern of this proposal. The habitats fall into two distinct types or zones.

Terrestrial Ecology

The flora is a curious mix of native species and archaic and recent introductions from around the world. It contains species that were here before the Romans and have continued to survive and thrive, becoming part of London’s urban flora. Highlights include Colt’s-foot (Tussilago farfara) also known as Poor Man’s Baccy; Pellitory-of-the-Wall (Parietaria Judaica); Garden Angelica (Angelica archangelica) a wetland plant growing on dry land near the Creek here establishing itself in a gap between concrete; Late Michaelmas Daisy (Aster x versicolor) of North America origin that has become common in the wild; Rosebay Willowherb (Chamanerion angustifolium) a plant that has come to have a strong associations with London. It came to public attention during the Second World War when along with Oxford Ragwort (which also grows wild here) they coloured bomb sites pink and yellow.

Intertidal Creek Walls

The flora is highly diverse with a mixture of wetland and dry land species often growing side by side. It is typical of Deptford Creek and again entirely wild. Highlights include: Perennial Wall-rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia) a species of flowering plant in the mustard family; Hawkweed Oxtongue (Picris hieracioides); Ivy-leaved Toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis) introduced from Europe to London a little over 400 years ago; and Pink Water-speedwell (Veronica catenata).
The planting and seeding strategy further reinforces the idea of balconies to the creek, with areas around benches unsown and more forcefully managed to create a structure of pocket clearings.

The Proposal

The intention of the proposals was to find an approach, language and method in which to found a new set of mixed-use public spaces that complements and supports the existing ecological, social and spatial networks. Concerning the ecology we responded to the creek, its productive edges, its flow, and the continual rise and fall and associated depositing of rich sediment.
Along the Creek Edge we have created a thickened ecological landscape beside the water. To support the idea of edges and flow, the area has two types of surfacing. Soft impact areas are laid with pale red Cedec which is a permable aggregate with a neutral pH which will be seeded with native plants. The beauty of this material is that it can be shaped and seeps through this area of the site like the movement of water and yet is still practical and strong enough to take maintenance vehicles. Outside the vehicle paths, a growing medium created from crushed aggregates recycled from site will be seeded.
The area to the south has a harder feel, with a natural play area for smaller children. Potential access areas for heavy vehicles are paved with a combination of recycled concrete sleepers and tumbled setts, laid flexibly with joints again seeded with native plants. The relaxed way in which these materials are used allows them to interact naturally.
The actual creek edge has been thickened, forming a deep edge of rubble and crushed aggregate which will be left to colonise naturally.
Indentations in this edge give access to the creek wall and almost 180 degree views to the water and the viaduct. As an important flood defence, the creek wall will remain unchanged, expect for improved fencing and pedestrian access along the wider parts of the wall to appreciate the views.
The area outside the residential building has been given privacy by the planting of a small grove of native birch and cherry trees planted through cedec, which creates a ragged edge with the adjoining reclaimed concrete sleepers and granite setts.
Secure cycle shelters will have living roofs, layered with crushed aggregate and rubble to encourage natural colonisation.

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TRANSFORMATIONAL LANDSCAPE

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Herbaceous planting  Herbaceous planting  Corten log storage  New planting grasses

This year we saw the completion of the renovation of a lovely garden in Somerset within the context of an ancient house.

The approach to the house has been remodelled and softened, and is brought to life by new planting. The transformational design has completely changed the character of the garden and brought the family outside to delight in their new living space. A strong relationship has been re-established between the inside and the outside of the dwelling and with it enjoyment of the exterior space.

Our client loves the new scheme here are some of her comments:

“It’s changed my attitude to the outside and has broadened our environment. We would never have taken the time to look at the garden before, now it’s part of our lives.

We love the fact that it’s crazy wild in some places and yet structured in others.

The outside is as important now as the inside. The design has transformed our space and our enjoyment of the garden.”

When we started on the scheme the main frontage of the house was dominated by parked cars. A large gravel parking area interrupted the flow of the garden and importantly stopped the family enjoying their garden because the relationship between the inside and outside of the house had been lost

Our scheme started with a detailed analysis of the use of the external areas and how family members accessed the garden, what they did there and how they would like to use the space. The design which grew from our discussions created a strong new structure for the critical zone close to the building entrances. This we packed with diversity and detail to create a lot of new interest immediately by the building to be seen from the inside against a long lawn backdrop.

The first step to free up the area in front of the house was to move the drive and create a new approach to the house which allowed us to move the parking. This created space for a new terrace that all the south-facing doors and windows of the house opened on to. The areas abutting the central area of the terrace – which is the setting of the core of the house – were planted with herbaceous perennials in strong colours whose exuberance is contained within low clipped hedges. This broad planted zone contains species which stretch the flowering season from spring to autumn

Outside the main axis, in a contemporary twist, a link across a long, formal pool provides a transition to a sunken seating area, which is sheltered by new planting and flanked by bespoke Corten structures – the log store for a fire pit. This area relates well to the adjacent swimming pool and has a more private character than the open terrace.

The new curving approach to the house allows a view of it before being diverted to the side (restoring some C18th principles,) with the parking tucked out of the view of the main façade and in time screened altogether by a new hedge. A new tennis court is sited discretely beyond the immediate lawn and relates to a retained Victorian copse, orchard areas and the wider views of the cricket pitch.

The most important factor of the scheme is the relationship of the house to the outside and the second most important is the quality of the approach to the house which moves from a long Lime avenue, through new gates into a transition space and then approaches the garden, whose heart is at the front door.

 Coming home has never been so good.

 

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FLITCH GREEN – landscape led development

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nature reserve, landscape feature, bird habitat, local environment

nature reserve, landscape feature, bird habitat, local environment

Good landscape planning helps make the best use of land, identifying the most locally sustainable sites for development and freeing up more space for houses

 

Land use planning was crucial on the Flitch Green development.  The site is bisected and affected by local water courses, the River Chelmer and the Stebbing Brook.  Respecting the effect of the riverine environment, its topography, soil conditions, seasonal water fluctuations, ecology, vegetation types and microclimate have helped determine the appropriate proximity of new buildings to the river.  The residential areas at Flitch Green needed to be out of the flood zone of the river as a basic requirement, but the landscape design took many cues from the type and structure of the local environment.   New lakes and ponds were necessary in order to balance rainwater run-off and these were located in topographically suitable zones, close to, related and connected to the river and their form needed to be integrated into the lowland valley environment.

Because the land was formerly a sugar beet works (a series of filled lagoons which had been used for the wash down arisings from sugar beet, later disused and filled with domestic tipped material) reprofiling the entire site was a starting point for the landscape design.  The design of the topography of the site was a close collaboration between landscape architects and engineers.  As land was reclaimed and remediated (through a series of drying out processes) large volumes of fill were incorporated into the new shapes designed by the consultants.  To ensure that the resulting topography was appropriate in this location the river was the defining site feature, with a landscape growing up from its bed, leaving space for seasonal overtopping and flooding below a particular contour and providing a series of gently sloping hills in the open landscape and flatter zones which were to be built apon.

 

Well-planned and designed green infrastructure creates multifunctional spaces that deliver more efficient land use in a cost effective way

An existing SSSI was safeguarded and its ecological potential increased with new scrapes, new planting and a wider zone of flooding included on land adjoining but not then part of the SSSI.  This became part of the publicly accessible open space of the development on one side of the Stebbing Brook, whilst on the opposite side a less naturalistic series of spaces were designed for local recreation.

These area were multi-functional in that they provided a set off zone to a local sewage facility which was sited close to the Brook; they ensured that the flood zone of the river was maintained and adequate space was included at a suitable datum above water level; the landscape design of these areas had a remit to increase the potential for wildlife and ecology;  and they were used as part of the external landscape setting and recreational provision for the new development.

 

Considering landscape from the outset can help make new development more acceptable to an existing community, and speed up the planning process

This site was highly visible in the local landscape and its proximity to the settlement of Felsted made it locally sensitive.  The sugar beet works had closed some 40 years prior to the site’s redevelopment.   As landscape architects our design for the site was pivotal in achieving consent and convincing the local authority that the scheme would be acceptable.  Landscape and visual impact assessments were carried out on successive phases of the project and our evidence was key to a series of planning inquiries on the proposals.

This would always have been a difficult site to redevelop because it was in the Green Belt, but it was also close to Stansted (with an established housing requirement) and brown field land.   All these factors helped to convince the LA planners and local people that the scheme would be acceptable.

 

Well-landscaped housing delivers economic value to a place (eg regeneration)

In the case of Flitch Green this is manifestly true.  The regenerated/remediated once derelict site gave huge value as housing land to our developer client’s shareholders, year on year for the past 20 years.  The site is still not built out and there are currently 840 houses.  Without the skill of the consultant team a sympathetic landscape setting would not have been achieved.

Understanding the local landscape context through a good evidence base, can help plan effectively for new housing in a locality

Landscape and visual assessment were used not just to assess potential impact but to understand and illustrate the context of this site.  The particular characteristics of the local area (cricket bat willows, lines of poplars, white and crack willows billowing within the river corridor) these were all key in generating the design for the lowland landscape.  The upper drier Oak/Ash/Birch vegetation was again observed from the wider, local area.

When designing large site areas (Flitch Green is 54 ha) a solid understanding of the local context is essential, not just for the designer, but to persuade local people, the council and other stakeholders that the scheme is appropriate and can be absorbed into the wider landscape.

 

Providing advice on landscape requirements for developers (eg design coding) helps get better results

We provided detailed urban design advice which was embedded into the landscape structure of the design for the site.  However this was not adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance or as a mandatory planning requirement for the successive phases of development.  Many of the codes set out in our document were not followed to the detriment of better pedestrian connections through the site for example.  At the time that our urban design guidance was submitted to the council design coding was not a well known method of controlling development and the design information we submitted wasn’t conditioned as part of the consent.  Design codes are now better understood and have more teeth in ensuring high quality design is followed through.  Without stringent planning requirements many developers will still flaunt detailed advice which is frustrating and affects the quality of the finished scheme.

 

In summary

It’s clear that the benefit accruing from excellent landscape design affects people’s well- being, the quality of life of those who live and work in well-designed environments is enhanced by a connected, high quality public realm.    There are also the sustainable benefits outlined in our example above, whether flood protection, sustainable drainage options ecological benefits or potential for wildlife.  There is also a clear link between the well-considered relationship of the inside and outside of a dwelling, and the quality of its setting.  These things make a place desirable, delightful, eminently saleable and a great place to live.

And in the final analysis landscape is cheap!  What’s not to like?

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Why invest in landscape for housing?

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Flitch Green new pond

Flitch Green new pond

 

 

The following statements by the Landscape Institute describe how multi-functioning landscape meets so many criteria:

▪   Well-planned and designed green infrastructure creates multifunctional spaces that deliver more efficient land use in a cost effective way

▪    Good landscape planning helps make the best use of land, identifying the most locally sustainable sites for development and freeing up more space for houses

▪    Landscape is a cost effective way to create sustainable development and meet sustainability standards such as BREEAM

▪    Considering landscape from the outset can help make new development more acceptable to an existing community, and speed up the planning process

▪    Designing in social spaces such as parks and play areas brings added social benefits and can encourage residents to play an active part in their management

Next week we illustrate how these can be achieved using our scheme in Felsted Essex

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