For the last few decades, the global urban population has been rapidly increasing. Living in the cities allows us to benefit from better infrastructures, more employment and social opportunities. Unfortunately, this movement has come with negative consequences for the planet.
More than half of the population lives in cities. It accounts for over 50% of global waste, natural resources consumed as well as has a big impact on CO2 emissions and loss of biodiversity (source WWF).
Luckily, the solution to the problem is right under our noses – nature. Urban Growth and similar organisations around the world are working tirelessly to bring green spaces back into our cities.
Why do we need to bring nature back?
Urban gardens and forests around the cities can bring harmony back to the relationship between humans and the planet. By creating more green spaces, we can regulate the temperature, purify the air and bring biodiversity back to the city (Source: British Ecological Society).
Currently, around 2 million of London’s citizens live in areas with toxic air. Planting more trees is a simple solution to improving the quality of the air. Spending time surrounded by nature has been shown to help decrease blood pressure and stress. Therefore, by creating green spaces around the cities we would not only secure the future of generations to come, but also improve our living conditions and wellbeing immensely.
How can we create more green spaces in our city?
Creating traditional parks spanning acres in the middle of the urban area might not be an accessible solution anymore, but there’s plenty of space to bring nature into our overcrowded cities, we just need to innovate.
Newly built apartment blocks are sprouting all around London. Creating inside court gardens, lining buildings with beds of colourful flowers and easy-to-look-after plants bring a curb appeal to any space, provide a much-needed home and food for insects and a learning opportunity for children of the neighbourhood. Every project, even a newly built one, presents its challenges. Luckily, we are always ready to think outside the box. When working on the Greenwich Peninsula project, we discovered that the pool area has an ambient temperature of 30 degrees. This meant that some plants could not handle the constant loss of water this climate would have caused. However, we found species that thrived in these conditions and now residents of the apartment complex can enjoy the greenery while doing their daily laps.
Council housing complexes built in the 20th century have favoured cement and tiles over green spaces. They can easily get transformed into a vibrant green community space where residents can grow vegetables and enjoy summer barbeques. We have recently worked at Paulet Estate garden in partnership with The Remakery and Linda McCartney Foods. What started as an abandoned space that lacked biodiversity became a beautiful green space for everyone to enjoy.
Our cities are carved with a web of streets yet not many of them are lined with trees or flower planters. Urban Growth worked on a project to re-wild some of the public places in front of local businesses in Stratford in partnership with BID and Stratford Original. We have installed new sprouts in the corners of the streets and raised planters to house flowers and bushes that need more care. Even small flower planters can make a big difference by attracting bees to pollinate and help plants to continue growing. Such a simple solution allows everyone to enjoy nature at their fingertips on the way to work every day.
Green roofs & walls
There are plenty of unused areas on the tops and sides of buildings. Having more rooftop gardens or living walls around the cities would help increase biodiversity, cool the temperature and help with rainwater management. It would also transform empty grey spaces into inspiring communal gardens. Back in 2019, we worked on a Greenwich Peninsula Riverside Apartments project. Even though weather conditions on the 15th floor were challenging to a lot of plant species, we found beautiful greenery that could thrive in these conditions. No rooftop? How about a green wall? The sky is the limit when it comes to our imagination, let’s use it for good by finding ways to make our buildings greener.
Indoor and outdoor gardens
There is a lot you can do even when you have no outdoor space at all. Learn how you can grow your food without a garden here. If more of us attempted windowsill gardening or joined urban gardening workshops such as Brixton Orchard, Pop Farm, the effects of vegetable transportation from farmers to supermarkets would be reduced.
Indoor gardens not only ensure that you, your team or customers are breathing fresh air, they also provide immense wellbeing benefits such as reduced stress levels. We have helped Duke of York Pub, Mare Street Market and many other local businesses create their urban jungle. The indoor space became more inviting and ambient instantly and outside plants provided shading in summer and home to birds and insects all year long.
Green office space
Bring the outside world inside with biophilic design. Research shows that using natural materials and living plants in a workplace contributes to mental wellbeing, improved concentration and reduction of stress. Having plenty of greenery allows the humidity levels of the office to rise which has a positive impact on our overall health. Finally, plants can lower the temperature of the space and companies can save on temperature regulation. Is a great stepping stone to building a more sustainable working space.
Let Us Help You Bring Nature Back
Urbanisation is expected to keep on increasing over the coming years. The good news is that we can counteract the negative impact on the planet caused by the movement by bringing nature to the cities with us. Green spaces (even small!) created all over our cities bring positive change to the climate and to our well-being. You can play a role in this. Contact us so we can help you create green spaces in your office, home, or company!