Green Belts: more than lines on a map

Natural England and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) have published Green Belts: a Greener Future. The first major survey of the environmental state of Green Belt land and the benefits it provides for people and wildlife.

Helen Phillips, Natural England’s Chief Executive, said: “By containing urban sprawl, the Green Belt has been a great success story of post-war planning. We need to look at ways in which it can expand on its success to date and play a full role in supporting England’s wider network of protected areas and open spaces. The Green Belt is an important environmental resource that, managed effectively, can help tackle climate change, support wildlife and provide health and leisure opportunities for millions to enjoy.”

Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive of CPRE, said: “This report confirms that the countryside around our largest and most historic towns and cities is a vital, but fragile, environmental asset. We must continue to strengthen our Green Belts and make full use of the opportunities they provide to allow people to appreciate their local countryside. Where Green Belt land is underused, or in poor condition, the answer is to improve its quality, not to build on it.”

30 million people live in or next to Green Belts which cover 13% of the land surface of England.

Download website for  Summary and Full Report of Green Belts: a Greener Future

[SOURCE: Natural England]

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Designer to use a shipping container & dumpsters for exhibition garden

Voxy.co.nz reports

Industrial-sized dumpsters, mini skips, a shipping container and exotic aquatic weeds are the four key elements in the exhibition garden being designed by Christchurch-based international designer Craig Pocock for this year’s Ellerslie International Flower Show.

“As landscape architects, we should be aiming to create landscapes with longevity that will survive changing demographics, community growth and fashion trends. Our landscapes need to be timeless designs that serve a community well for decades to make the most of the embodied energy costs that comes with creating and maintaining a landscape, especially our urban spaces”.

Read the full article at the [SOURCE: Voxy.co.nz - Water Oasis In An Industrial Setting]

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SWA urban design project in Anning, China starts construction

The principal government of Miyi County in Sichuan Province, China, just north of Kunming, has started construction on the first phase of a 330-hectare (1.3 square miles) new-town designed by SWA Group’s Los Angeles office utilizing historical ecologies as well as technology innovation to create a more sustainable community.

One of the largest of many city design competitions won by SWA, the Anning River new-town will include higher-density housing and commercial areas as well as preserved agricultural practices, parks and recreation zones. When complete, the new South Miyi County, also known as New South Town, would be home to up to 100,000 people via new construction of 2.3 million square meters of building area and 20,000 units of housing. North Miyi is already home to 500,000 people.

[SOURCE: Businesswire - SWA Group Wins Design for Anning River New Town for 100,000 People Starting Construction Near Kunming, China]

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Wetlands restored after long term acid runoff

Australian scientists have announced the world’s first successful large-scale restoration of a coastal wetland being devastated by acid runoff.

The acid crisis at East Trinity began in the 1970s, when developers drained and cleared 800 hectares of tidal wetland to grow sugarcane. This dried out underlying acid sulfate soils causing them to release slugs of acid whenever they were soaked by rain, leading to fish kills and loss of wetlands which alarmed local residents.

A dramatic improvement in environmental conditions has been achieved by researchers working on the trial Hills Creek catchment at the East Trinity site near Cairns in Queensland, using a combination of natural tidal action and strategic treatment with lime.

Mangrove and wetlands are returning, birdlife is flocking to the area and fish abound in creeks that once ran so acid that nothing could survive in them.  Having first demonstrated success in the trial catchment, remediation is underway on the remainder of the site.

[SOURCE: CRCCARE -World-first clean-up of acid wetlands]

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Australian architects think about cities in 2050 and beyond

The Australian Institute of Architects has announced a shortlist of proposals for the Australia Pavillion at the Venice Biennale. The shortlist of 24 was selected from 129 submissions addressing urban spaces in 2050 and beyond.

Some of the proposals include:

  • New cities of 50,000-100,000 in desert areas
  • Cities which feature a ‘tartan-like texture of pure urban areas (or cells), pure rural cells, and cells which are a hybrid of rural and urban’, providing a ‘vital flexibility for a sustainable future’.
  • Cities hugging the coast from Noosa to Geelong to accommodate population growth and the preferred coastal climate; connected by a ‘very fast train running from North Qld to Victoria; pockets of vertical sprawl; new cities in pristine locations such as Botany Bay and the Royal National Park.
  • Cities in which ‘within tightly controlled boundaries exist Multiple Cities‘. Cities which address issues such as: what if a city grows not out, but up or down? What if a city’s growth boundary is not on its periphery but at its heart? What if new planning initiatives were introduced governing the use of air space? ‘A Green City, where the top plane provides wind and solar energy to power (and cool) the multiple cities below’, as well as all food production.
  • Cities ‘woven into the landscape’ – balancing dense human settlement with flora and fauna biodiversity, with major roadways converted into natural landscape corridors.

The competition fired the imagination of Australia’s architects and designers, resulting in inspired, possible solutions and imaginative proposals addressing the critical issue of Australian urbanism – examining possibilities across the terrestrial, underwater and airborne realms.

The two-part ‘NOW + WHEN Australian Urbanism‘ exhibition will highlight three of Australia’s most interesting urban regions as they are ‘NOW’, before dramatically representing around seven futuristic urban environments from the competition as they may be ‘WHEN’ we reach 2050 and beyond.

Co-Creative Director and well-known Melbourne-based photographer John Gollings said: “The large number of entries and range of approach and philosophy exceeded expectations. We felt that more than 50 per cent of the entries could have made an important contribution to the Venice Architecture Biennale, and narrowing the selection down to 24 was difficult.

“Of great interest now, is that these varied ideas must be turned into tangible 3D models which can be screened as virtual, built projects for exhibition in the Australian Pavilion in Venice. This process will challenge the normal speculative imaging often produced by architects, and lead to new presentation techniques benefiting the whole profession as the world embraces 3D, virtual, and holographic media. From the test results with our 3D projectors, now running in Melbourne, the Australian pavilion at the 2010 Venice Biennale will be a standout attraction.”

The Creative Directors said those shortlisted were far more than hypotheticals. Each uniquely responded to future challenges including population growth, environmental degradation, dwindling resources and climate change. Each entry reflected a highly creative diversity of possibilities fused with a diversity of design that mapped out possible cities of the future.

12th Venice Architecture Biennale:
Vernissage: 26, 27, 28 August 2010;
Exhibition: 29 August – 28 November 2010

SOURCE: Australian Institute of Architects

RELATED NEWS STORY: Sydney Morning Herald – Living in the future, with under-harbour views

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