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Cycling revolution

@AnnaSieczak

Being a cyclist makes you see the streets differently but being a landscape architect offers a completely new view of the city.

Anna Sieczak

Cycle revolution – an article featured in the Landscape Journal – Autumn 2020, Landscape: Green Recovery, by Landscape Institute.

The article presents an overview of how our relationship with cities changed in the context of COVID-19 and how various cities in the UK and Europe responded to the increased number of cyclists during the first lockdown. Text introduce an argument for the Green Recovery with Green Cycling Infrastructure.

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The Journal can be accesses here . For Cycle Revolution check out pages 19-22.

You can read the article directly here, or download it as a PDF for offline reading or read it below.

Cities are an immense ” laboratory of trial and error, failure and success in city building and city design. This is the laboratory in which city planning should have been learning and forming and testing its theories.

Jane Jacobs, ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’ (1961).

The last few months have tested, among other things, our relationship with the city and how we travel within it. Governments and local authorities were forced to apply temporary institutional measures in an effort to stop the pandemic: widened pavements, temporary bike lanes, car-free streets or speed limits – all happened rapidly. This rapid shift forced us to re-evaluate our relationship with the city.

  • 53% of people appreciate local green spaces more since the lockdown (1),
  • 100% increase in weekday cycling and 200% increase during weekends, compared to pre-COVID-19 levels (3),
  • 60% fall in air pollution in parts of the UK (4).
Cycling during the lockdown, new LTN Lambeth.

We have had the opportunity to look closely at the places we live in and, while we were looking, we were also listening, lingering and rethinking. The new normal we saw was one of the streets as places with people walking and cycling, of clean air and local green spaces appreciated. We experienced the cities without cars, perhaps for the first time, wandering around our neighbourhood, discovering new routes and local green spaces.

Oyster Wheel view from Box Hil, loop 8l.

There are a few reasons cycling has become more prevalent during a pandemic:

  • to avoid public transport,
  • to enjoy the beautiful weather, and
  • to take advantage of the empty roads.

It is not cycling that is dangerous but the environment in which we cycle.

Change the environment, take out the risk, and people will cycle and walk.

Empty of cars, the streets have been seen as safe to cycle. This perceived safety also allowed less confident or first-time cyclists to combat their fear and anxiety. Perceived safety is a critical factor in the pattern of changes in human behaviour.

Empty streets and bollards separating the traffic lifted two main barriers that stop people from cycling:

  • the structural barrier (vehicular traffic on the roads and lack of safe, segregated bike lanes) and
  • the emotional barrier (the feeling of discomfort, the lack of safety, and lack of representation).
Isabelle Clement. Wheels for Wellbeing Director, urban handcyclist. Using one of the improvements in Lambeth.

More “women, older people, disabled people, people from ethnic minority groups and people at risk of deprivation” are cycling now or consider cycling(5). With an increasingly diverse cohort of people who cycle emerging, cycling becomes visually accessible to people of different races, genders, classes, abilities. Seeing other people, just like us, is encouraging, and gives the message that “I too can cycle”(6).

Cycling – Railton LTN in Lambeth.
In Europe:

Paris implemented the quickest measures, supported by the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, elected this year for the second time. Her motto was “fighting for a different vision of the world – a world that takes care of our most precious resources: the air we breathe, the water we drink and the places we share.” Paris has become a “15 minute city”, where people rely on active forms of transport, with 50 kilometres reserved for bicycles, including the famous Rue de Rivoli, and 30 pedestrian-only streets (7) .

Milan is transforming 22 miles of local streets with bike lanes, wider sidewalks and lower speed limits, allocating space for more people on streets and embracing the 15 minute city concept at the centre of the postCOVID recovery(8) .

Interestingly Amsterdam and Utrecht, two long-established cycling cities, have integrated their COVID-19 response into long-term strategies, such as Utrecht’s Healthy Urban Living strategy (based on UN 2030 Agenda of SDGs) (9). The Dutch have just carried on with their cycling, as the cultural shift and systemic change (legislation and streetscape design) happened back in the 50s and 70s.

In the UK:
Tactical, temporary, social distance barriers.

London offers two examples of grassroots cycling initiatives, both very different and both born from a passion for cycling.

BikelinesLND (10) proposes a segregated and direct network of fast cycle routes to the city centre from Zone 4 and beyond, organised along the colour-coded routes of the Underground network to make them legible and easy to navigate, plus cycle parking. “The network of meandering configurations allows buses, taxis and delivery vehicles to flow around one another and make contact safely with the kerb without bringing them into conflict with bicycles.” The proposal aims to accommodate high use during peak hours (11) .

Patterns of arrangement for BikelinesLND, diagram.
Bikelines routes map.

The Oyster Wheel is made up of eight cycle loops around London, with each of its “spokes” finishing at Tower Bridge. The circular routes are using the Sustrans and Quietways networks where possible, and focus on health benefits and exercise, while enhancing the Green Belt and increasing our contact with nature(12) .

Oyster Wheel map.

The lockdown resulted in the rapid implementation of long-term programmes, like the Streetspace for London project and the Railton Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) (initially planned for 2023)(13).

In Tower Hamlets, the Skew Bridge on Old Ford Road was closed for cars and open for active travel as part of the Liveable Streets Scheme developed before lockdown, meaning it was now possible to test the project’s aims: improved road safety, air quality, and reduced noise pollution(14) .

Cycling – Railton LTN in Lambeth.

According to Transport for London (TFL), 57km of new or improved cycle routes have been created in London, with the aim of 450km of new cycleways by 2024 (15). Although there are voices of opposition, generally the public approval of these changes is high:

  • 64% in support of the temporary provision of new cycle lanes, or wider existing cycle lanes, to aid social distancing
  • 57% in support of the permanent changes (16) .

In July, the Prime Minister announced £2bn for a ‘cycling and walking revolution’ in England, a new policy plan for cycling and walking (17) and a review of ‘The Highway Code to improve road safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders’ (18). This was perhaps influenced by the Dutch ‘Presumed Liability Law’, where the larger vehicle is always responsible in the event of an accident, every road user is obliged to look after the vulnerable, and ‘All motorised traffic has to give way when turning left or right to people on bicycles.’

Reducing traffic and introducing the cycle line improved life of all residents.

Five principles are fundamental in the creation of inclusive cycling space in order for them to be safe, and be perceived as such. Cycleways must be “Coherent, Direct, Safe, Comfortable and Attractive”, as set out in the Local Transport note 1/20 on New Cycle infrastructure design (LTN 1/20) published on 27 July(19) .

  1. Coherent
    • Cycle routes should allow people to reach day to day destinations easily in a way that is easy to navigate, intuitive and obvious.
  2. Direct
    • Cycle routes should be more direct, than the routes available to motor vehicles. Limit the stop/starting, giving way at side roads, or diversion away from the direct route.
  3. Safe
    • As well as being safe, the infrastructure needs to feel safe.
  4. Comfortable
    • Quality maintained surfaces, proper widths and favourable gradients, reducing conflict between road users.
  5. Attractive
    • Cycle infrastructure should contribute positively to the urban realm, and naturally be attractive to use, avoid over use of signs and markings.
The section of the CS3 in Tower Hamlet was improved in early 2020: SUDS, trees and mixed pollinator friendly planting, part of Liveable Streets scheme by LBoTH & Project Centre.

Combined multifunctional active travel and green infrastructure, provides benefits to local communities and the whole city. Integrated greenery with suitable tree planting does not just create a ‘pleasant route’, it also has many measurable benefits and functions. It can:

  • Create habitats and enhance biodiversity
  • Provide CO2 storage and save CO2 emissions
  • Improve air quality – lowering N02 and PM10 pollution, filtering fine particles pollution
  • Manage rainwater – SuDS, cleaning, storing, infiltrating, etc.…
  • Have a cooling effect – reducing urban heat effect
  • Promote physical activity – walking, wheeling, running, cycling, etc.
  • Benefit physical health – reducing cardiac disease, strokes, and asthma due to improved air quality
  • Benefit mental wellbeing – reducing stress, anxiety, depression
  • Create stronger communities, as well as age-friendly and inclusive neighbourhoods(20)
Trees provide shade and cool down the asphalt.

The lockdown tests on cities have provided us with evidence that the current city and transport infrastructure design, centred around cars, is no longer valid, and that the rapid change is possible. Inclusive street design for active transport, green infrastructure – 15-minute cities and well design green spaces – are the changes that are necessary to create resilient cities and combat the climate emergency. The lockdown allowed for these approaches to be implemented and tested, and their success should put active transport and green infrastructure at the heart of the Green Recovery.

References

1 https://www.cpre.org.uk/about-us/cpre-media/ green-spaces-and-community-thrive-duringlockdown/

2 https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/ transport-secretarys-statement-on-coronavirus-covid19-4-june-2020

3 https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/ transport-secretarys-statement-on-coronavirus-covid19-4-june-2020

4 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-52202974

5 http://content.tfl.gov.uk/cycling-trends-update.pdf

6 https://www.bikebiz.com/new-report-shows-largeunmet-demand-for-cycling-from-ethnic-minority-anddisadvantaged-groups/

7 https://www.france24.com/en/20200505-paristo-turn-more-streets-over-to-bicycles-as-covid-19coronavirus-lockdown-lifts

8 https://www.ft.com/content/c1a53744-90d5-45609e3f-17ce06aba69a

9 http://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/ cities-policy-responses-fd1053ff/#endnotea0z214

10 https://twitter.com/bikelinesldn

11 http://www.nla.london/news/bike-lines-groupproposes-new-london-cycleway-plan

12 https://oysterwheel.wordpress.com/

13 https://lambethcyclists.org.uk/2020/07/02/benefitsalready-showing-in-railton-neighbourhood/

14 https://talk.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lsbow/news_feed/scheme-3-old-ford-road 

15 https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/routes-and-maps/ cycleways

16 https://www.centreforlondon.org/news/pedestrianscyclists-more-space/

17 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pmkickstarts-2bn-cycling-and-walking-revolution

18 https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/ review-of-the-highway-code-to-improve-road-safetyfor-cyclists-pedestrians-and-horse-riders

19 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cycleinfrastructure-design-ltn-120

20 https://www.epa.gov/green-infrastructure/benefitsgreen-infrastructure

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Malmesbury Green Project – Phase 2. Green Corridor: Malemesbury Rd. to Mile End Park.

Greening the city – one street at a time.

Green Corridor: Malmesbury Rd. to Mile End Park Project – series of small-scale interventions with two main aims:

“1. to encourage local residents to use Malmesbury Rd. as an attractive walking and cycling route to Mile End Park.

2. to make an area of Malmesbury Rd. an important habitat for wildlife and plants and to help plants and animals move between Mile End Park and the Malmesbury Estate.”.

Masterplan

The masterplan identified ten small sites along the Malmesbury Road, paved or grassed. The sites were individually assessed and designed for cleaning, depaving, ornamental or native planting, herb gardens, native hedges and trees, orchards, bird boxes, and loggery.

Housing Association, residents and the Gardening Club are closely involved and participate in the decision making, construction and maintenance of the gardens.

Phase 1. 2019-2020

In 2019-2020 The Wilder Community with help from volunteers and other charity organisations ‘greened’ three Malmesbury Estate sites:

  • Guerin Sq. – planted in April 2019 with biodiverse planting;
  • Tom Thumbs Arch – planted in September 2019 with ornamental and wildflowers, biodiverse planting;
  • Ambrose Walk – planted in February 2020 with wild-flower meadow, ornamental and native, biodiverse planting, herb planting & fruit trees.

Phase 2. 2020-2021

In spring 2020, seven new sites were identified for ‘greening’. Four areas will be planted with native trees (11 no. in total) and three sites with fruit trees (20 no. in total). Additionally, a total of 14 m native wildlife hedgerows will be planted in two areas. All locations will be underplanted with biodiverse planting: native or ornamental. Several bird-nesting boxes, bug hotels and one loggery will be located on the sites, created and installed in collaboration with local schools.

Site 01

Site 01 – a raised, empty and grassed area, will be transformed into a community orchard with five fruit trees, e.g. apples, and pears. Additionally, eight meters of mixed native hedge and biodiverse under-planting with nectar reach flowers will be planted, as well as bird boxes and bug hotels installed.

Site 02

Site 02 – existing planting will be kept and three new fruit trees, e.g. apples, planted to create a small orchard, plus biodiverse underplanting with nectar-rich flowers, bird boxes and bug hotel.

Site 03

Sites 03 – green stripe along the car parking will be planted with two native broadleaf trees, e.g. lime, and underplanted with wildlife supporting planting: shrubs and perennials, plus bird boxes installed on the existing and new trees.

Site 04

Site 04 – the small grassed area will be transformed with one native broadleaf tree, e.g. rowan, underplanted with ornamental and wildlife supporting planting.

Site 05

Site 05 – planted with one native broadleaf tree, e.g. lime, plus a bird box, and underplanted with wildlife supporting planting.

Site 06

Site 06 – one of the bigger sites, it will be planted with seven mixed native broadleaf trees, e.g. oak, lime and rowan plus six meters of mixed native hedgerow, all underplanted with wildlife supporting planting. Additionally, bird boxes will be fixed to trees with bug hotels and loggery for deadwood insects installed.

Site 07

Site 07 – the biggest site, it will be changed into a community orchard with 12 fruit trees, e.g. apples, pears, and apricots. Biodiverse underplanting with nectar-rich flowers, bird boxes and bug hotels will provide additional benefits.

Creating new orchards, wildflower meadows and sites with nectar-rich ornamental planting will make the Malmesbury Rd. an important habitat for wildlife and a pleasant environment for residents.

Nature benefits:

  • Proposed trees and planting compromise of native broadleaf trees, mixed native hedges and perennials.
  • The benefits of tree planting are countless, just to list a few:
    • rainwater uptake,
    • shade providing,
    • cooling and improved microclimate effect,
    • wildlife habitats.
  • Ornamental and native planting provide food and shelter for birds and insects throughout the whole year.
  • Rich biodiverse under-planting and orchards, provide plenty of food for pollinators.
  • Bird boxes and bug hotels create additional habits for birds, wild and solitary bees and beetles.
  • Depaving and planting improve the soil quality and habitats for invertebrates.
  • Additional benefits are cleaner air and rainwater uptake.
  • By creating a series of high quality, open green spaces the Malmesbury Rd. connects to the wider Tower Hamlets Green Grid Strategy.

Public benefits:

  • The sites are open and fully accessible to residents, visitors, local school pupils and staff.
  • Promote walking and cycling, including school trips.
  • Greening the Malmesbury road aims to connect residents with nature.
  • Long term benefits of improved mental and physical health, such as contact with nature, are proved to be an excellent tool for coping with stress and improving mindfulness.
  • Strong community, actively involved in creation and maintenance.
  • Improved air quality – long term health benefits.
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Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire

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Kirkby-in-Ashfield – town center regeneration masterplan

Winning entry to OPUN (the architecture and design center for East Midlands) national competition to design a new square in the town of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.

Teamed up with Patricia Paegle, we created an innovative proposal showing how the town center could be transformed, starting wider regeneration of the area and contributing to the Council’s strategy of improving the prosperity and shaping the future of the town. 

Elements from the design were used by Ashfield District Council to develop a final plan for the new town square. Works were completed in 2013.


DESIGN

Immediate and wider site contexts were analyzed and local communities were involved in the design process through consultations (questionnaires). This was essential to understand the local problems and needs, and informed the design that promote personal well-being and social cohesion.

The proposal divided the square into six integrated zones, creating a sustainable and dynamic urban space, safe, inclusive and with plenty of opportunities to play and interact.

The entrance zone was marked with raised street level, prioritizing and inviting pedestrians. Decluttered meeting and market areas alongside event area allows for flexibility, it can adapt to changing uses and demands, e.g. market stalls could give way to performance space. The recreation area at the top/bottom of the main street works as a biodiversity zone. Cultural spaces link them with library and shopping center.

entrance, meeting, and market areas alongside events, recreation, and cultural space 01
Zones

 

The design proposed new, robust and integrated street furniture, water feature, plenty of seating spaces to attract people and allowing for social engagement. The industrial, mining history of the town, as well as its sport traditions (with cricket player Harold Larwood), were embedded into the design through the choice of materials and shapes.

Existing trees were to be kept, new trees (Alnus glutinosa, Castanea sativa, Platanus x hispanica, Tilia cordata, and Ulmus glabra) to provide shade, improve microclimate and create pleasant environment for seating and spending time outdoors. Rain garden planting was proposed with a green hub area between Low Moor Road and Ellis Street, to enhance biodiversity and introduce the wildlife to the site.

The design provides sensory stimulation. Peaceful and relaxing thanks to the soothing sound of water (hearing), trees and plants (smell, sight, touch). Exciting and playful thorough tactile elements in sculptures and furniture elements (sight, touch, balance).

 

 


WATER

Water, waves, and flow were important aspects for us in putting our ideas together, and we spent a lot of time researching, designing and selecting suitable materials.

A curved pattern on the pavement imitates the water flow and influences the movement of people around the site. Inspired and enhanced by the SuDS principles, the line is, in fact, the surface rill, with pick point in the central square. The rill collects rainwater run-off and directs it into the rain garden located at the junction between the Low Moor Street and Ellis Street or to underground storage.

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SuDS strategy, rainwater management strategy

 


REGENERATION

The regeneration plays an important part in creating a sustainable and attractive town. This public space, if delivered, would make Kirkby more attractive and accessible to visitors. It would positively enhance the economic viability of the town, as well as revitalize the market encouraging independent businesses.  

 

On the origins of landscape architecture

How many of us, landscape architects, endured the battle of explaining what we do? What is landscape architecture? What does a landscape architect do?

The most common response to “Hi! My name is… I am a landscape architect.” is: “oh an architect” or a raised eyebrow “?” Many people tend to hear only ‘architecture‘ and because they understand the word, they focus on it, somehow omitting the ‘landscape‘ bit. The cluster of words ‘landscape architecture‘ has no common understanding in the general public.

It is no better in the design/construction field. The profession is often limited to to ‘filling in the in-between building spaces‘ or our work is called ‘landscaping‘, ‘greening‘ ‘gardening‘. It bothers me: one would not describe an architect’s job as ‘architecting‘ so why ‘landscaping‘?

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Landscape architecture at different scales:

streetscape with tree planting, sculpture garden, cycle network, neighbourhood park 


Different cultures have different experiences with landscape architecture. The anglocentric approach is the one I am currently working within and in my quest to understand landscape architecture better, I have come across publications from UK and USA, that try to respond to above questions and propose some answers.

Charles Waldheim’s article exquisitely explains the origins of the profession and the struggle with its name: https://lnkd.in/defdGit

the land­scape architect was originally conceived as a professional responsible for divining the shape of the city itself, rather than pastoral exceptions to it.

 

1870_Vaux_and_Olmstead_Map_of_Central_Park,_New_York_City_-_Geogr

1870 Vaux and Olmstead Map of Central Park, New York City – Geographicus https://www.geographicus.com/mm5/cartographers/olmstead.txt

 

Tim Turner offers a comprehensive explanation of the different definition of  Landscape architecture and proposes his own: https://lnkd.in/dEpYJb8

Landscape architecture can be defined as the art of composing landform, vegetation, water, buildings and paving to create good public space.

 

Damian Holmes presents an answer, which is my favourite,  illustrated with examples from across the globe: https://lnkd.in/dWJ6Hh8

Landscape architecture is the study and practice of designing environments (outdoors & indoors) of varying scale that encompasses elements of art, environment, architecture, engineering, and sociology.

 

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Variety of public spaces:

city main plaza, cultural memorial, cycle pathway with a wildflower meadow, a smi- private plaza with active play and sport 

 

The extent of our work is so wast that Landscape Architecture is, in fact, an umbrella term and professional bodies like ASLA and LI come in handy offering information and inspiration: https://lnkd.in/eAi9DfE https://lnkd.in/d9suwxJ

Yes, it is a comprehensive discipline covering a high number of different areas. A landscape architect might plan, design and/or maintain urban and/or rural spaces, outdoors, indoors. We can create LVIA document, and public ream accessibility strategy, create a playground and a green roof for a tower block. We understand nature and people, combining ecology and sociology in our designs.

In my short carrier, I have built a community orchard and water recycling reed beds, designed private gardens, a park, residential masterplan, retail park and biophilic interior office space; I advised on public realm projects, assisted with the street regeneration and fen wetland masterplan projects, and so on… The variety of different projects makes the profession so exciting.

Our work is not one dimensional. Plans unfold into a net of overlapping layers that affect each other and influence the final experience of users. We carefully arrange the spaces considering its accessibility and inclusivity, biodiversity and plant communities, social life and wildlife; the list is not exclusive.

 

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Elements of Masterplan for Sustainable and Walkable Neighbourhood in East London

CSCO 00#CSCorchard planted January 2020

 

With such accessible explanations (please refer to the links I shared), it should not be easier to grasp the idea of ‘what landscape architecture is’, and ‘what does a landscape architect do’. So please, let me repeat the definition I find most accessible and accurate, by Damian Holmes:

Landscape architecture is the study and practice of designing environments (outdoors & indoors) of varying scale that encompasses elements of art, environment, architecture, engineering, and sociology.    

 

 

London National Park City

 

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Epping Forest, North-East London – City Forrest, respite from the city hustle within easy reach of public transport or a bike

 

“It’s awesome to live in the Park – London National Park CityTogether: organisations, professionals, communities and all passionate individuals we can change the world! One Park City at a time. 😊

I have signed the London National Park City Charter, it can be found here.

By signing it, AS-Landscape Architecture committed, as a professional organisation, to help to create greener, healthier, fairer and more harmonious place to live. 

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King George’s Field, City of London – one of many City’s pocket parks, lunch spot, play area, water feature, all enveloped with well-managed planting, good for wildlife too

 

AS-LA through design and advocacy can help to achieve:

A city that is rich with nature and where everyone benefits from exploring, playing and learning outdoors.

 

A city where we all enjoy high quality public and green spaces, where the air is clean to breathe and it’s a pleasure to swim in its waters.

 

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Planting to support wildlife at local school, East End – enhancing biodiversity and educating new generations

 

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Holland Park, Kensington – contact with nature has scientifically proven (if common sense is not enough 🙂 ) good influence on our mental and physical well being

 

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Pocket Park, Shadwell, Tower Hamlet – raised wall of the planting area turned into a playful element of managed risk-taking, play that involve some risk positively contribute to kids metal and physical development

 

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Food growing at Cody Dock, Newham – community garden

 

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Play-on-a-way, Elephant and Castle, Southwark – elements placed ‘accidentally’ in the landscape, with natural look and embodied into overall design create an opportunity to discover and play

 

 

For better:

  • LIVES, HEALTH AND WELLBEING
  • WILDLIFE, TREES AND FLOWERS
  • PLACES, HABITATS, AIR, WATER, SEA AND LAND
  • TIME OUTDOORS, CULTURE, ART, PLAYING, WALKING, CYCLING AND EATING
  • LOCALLY GROWN FOOD AND RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION
  • DECISIONS, SHARING, LEARNING AND WORKING TOGETHER
  • RELATIONSHIPS WITH NATURE AND WITH EACH OTHER

 

I also, as an individual, try to communicate all above with my teaching as a garden design lecturer and with my local community as London citizen.

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View from Greenwich Park, London panorama

 

 

 

“There is no such thing as weeds in our gardens…”

During the Open House London 2019 weekend, I visited two community gardens: The Phoenix Garden in West and Cody Dock in East London.

Both could not be more different in their origins, current program and plans for the future. Yet, both have something in common: sustainability is very high on their agenda. Both share the “There are no such things as weeds in our garden” approach to ornamental wildlife urban community gardening and are fully on board with the sustainability principles. Private gardens and other public spaces could learn from their example.


The Phoenix Garden, St Giles, LB of Camden

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The Phoenix Garden

The Phoenix Garden, St Giles, LB of Camden. The community garden, of app 1500 m², opened in 1984 on a former bomb site by a group of volunteers. An oasis within a busy city with a focus on wildlife and a natural garden that requires minimal maintenance. As the garden’s web states:

“The garden is maintained using sustainable techniques and an innovative approach to wildlife gardening.”

That would include:

  • plants selection principles:
    • for dry conditions, drought-resistant,
    • looking good all year round,
    • of a maximum benefit to wildlife, e.g. pollinators;
  • letting all plants grow;
  • no or minimal weed removal;
  • establishing many different habitats to encourage wildlife species (e.g. frogs);
  • wildlife water pond;
  • bug hotels;
  • biodiverse brown roof (on the new pavilion building);
  • rainwater harvesting from the building (no artificial irrigation);
  • building waste reused on the site;
  • rubble used to create raised beds and accessible paths;
  • food growing, e.g. tomatoes in pots 🙂

“there are no weeds

there are no pests

there is no need for water

there is no waste”

The new pavilion has been constructed in 2016: “a building that is part of the garden not a building in the garden”. A place to hosts community events, workshops and for hire. The biodiverse brown roof, rainwater collection, and propagation area on the rooftop are in line with the garden’s sustainable principles. This holistic approach created an incredible habitat for urban wildlife. During the short time I spent there, I shared a company of two different birds and countless insects.

The garden is not fully ‘wild’ though. It is obviously an ornamental communal space, with garden rooms, outdoor classroom, curved, brick paths that invite you to explore and to seat on carefully placed benches. The planting follows the wildlife garden style, influenced with the new perennial wave (or is it the other way around?): a mix of trees, shrubs, ornamental plants with spectacular Euphorbia characias and Echium pininana – attractive for pollinators, and weeds e.g. Urtica dioica, common nettle, all on the same terms. Benches: timber and stone, logs, planters, and a sculpture of a horse head fulfill the picture.

 

 


The Cody Dock, Canning Town, LBof Newham

 

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The Cody Dock, the Gravel Garden

The Cody Dock, Canning Town, LBof Newham –  tidal river dock at London’s second river – Lower Lee. Originally opened in 1871 as a working dock, to unload coal for coal gas. After the dock closed, years of degradation followed until, in 2009, the Charity Gasworks Dock Partnership (GDP) was created, to lead the community-led regeneration focused on the river, industrial heritage, art, culture, conservation, and ecology. Volunteers (5,000 of them) cleaned up the site and in 2011 two tidal live/workboats moored. In 2013 a 999-year lease was secured by the charity and in 2017 a planning application for further development as a creative industries quarter has been approved, with PUP architect’s masterplan (plan). Soon, the Lower Lee River path will be open (part of the Lee River Park, Leeway) connecting the Olympic Park with the Royal Docks and the River Thames. In 2020 a unique ‘roller bridge’ (designed by Thomas Randall-Page) will be installed (CD web).

The Cody Dock is not a garden, it is a community multifunctional space and there are many things that it has to offer:

  • rich volunteering and training program, workshops and events,
  • tours on The River Princess community boat,
  • number of different wildlife habitats (article on Lower Lee wildlife here) both on the river and on the land,
  • picnic area,
  • on-site cafe,
  • gallery and exhibition room,
  • an outdoor classroom with the fire pit,
  • raised beds for food growing,
  • and two gardens: the sensory garden and the new gravel garden.

The sensory garden also called the Dancing Grass garden thanks to the plant selection with 6 types of grass, among others: Calimagrostis x acutifolia: Karl Forester, Overdam and Waldenbuch; Briza media and Hakoneodoa macra. The sense of hearing is stimulated by the rustling of dry grasses and Dianthus carthusianorum flowers. The sharp edges of Carex buchanani contrast with soft, thick and hairy leaves of  Senecio cineraria ‘Silver Dust’, and Juniperus squamata provides all year interest and spiky touch.  The smell of Lavandula and splashes of yellow and pink colour flowers will complete the sensory experiences. Tactile low retaining walls and paths lead visitors in meandering movement, suitable for the Dancing Grass garden, to the outdoor classroom, where during Open House weekend visitors could do their own wildflower seed bombs.

The gardens received 3 London in Bloom awards: ‘Outstanding’ ‘Gold’ and the ‘RHS National Certificate of Distinction’!

It is not possible to say if all 12 Permaculture principles are applied at the Cody Dock but the feeling of people care, community and making difference are profound.

 

 


 

The Phoenix Garden and The Cody Dock are two examples of how community-led, bottom-up change happens. The tranquil garden in the busy heart of London was created, is maintained and will thrive thanks to volunteers’ engagement. The regeneration of post-industrial dock and wasteland were triggered owing to the determination of two moorings boat owners. The successful collaboration between the charity organization, local authorities, businesses, and residents creates a sense of community neighbourhood pride and leads to the rediscovery of Lower Lee river with her fantastic wildlife.

In both examples a new environmentally responsible garden style/trend is present: the ‘there is no such thing as a weed’ garden, with low maintenance, and drought-tolerant planting, with food growing and organic, permaculture elements. They are ecological, enhancing wildlife and responding to the climate emergency gardens.

CV

CV & Portfolio:

Anna’s previous works include designing and managing projects in the UK and overseas: Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. She is experienced in projects at various scales: from small-scale residential gardens and community projects to complex commercial/public realm schemes, from design to construction. 

Download the CV here.

A portfolio of previous works is available upon request.


If you have a project I may assist you with, let’s discuss:

PHONE: 07527346833

EMAIL: info@annasieczak.com

About AS-LA. Why? What? Who?

AS – Landscape architecture stands for accessibility and sustainability. Our objective is to design private and public places that are inclusivefunctional and beautiful. To create designs that put users & environment first. Places that positively influence our lives.

 

Placemaking for people and nature.

Accessibility

Sustainability

Quality

AS-LA Swedenborg Gardens
We create valuable, sustainable and beautiful spaces.

We design with users in mind – putting people first. In public spaces, all users are welcomed and have a fantastic experience thanks to inclusive, accessible, and functional solutions. The private gardens can be enjoyed by the whole family.

We design with and for nature. Nature is integrated into all our projects from the start. We understand natural cycles, phytosociology, and the vital role contact with nature plays in supporting our health and wellbeing. We use biophilia principles, the right plant-right place approach, enhancing biodiversity and habitats for wildlife, and sustainable solutions like rainwater recycling.

We work closely with our clients to match their aesthetic wants with space and sustainability requirements, using our creativity and commitment to deliver the highest quality design.

Core Values AS_LA


What AS-LA does:

At AS-LA, we work on projects within

  • garden design,
  • community gardens,
  • public realm,
  • indoor greening.

We explore a broad range of design concepts relating to:

  • inclusivity,
  • accessibility,
  • the social life of public spaces,
  • health and wellbeing,
  • diversity,
  • biophilia,
  • Green-Blue Infrastructure,
  • SuDS,
  • biodiversity,
  • phytoremediation.

We collaborate with architects, landscape architects, garden designers, community groups and private clients, helping them deliver their projects to the highest standards.

At AS-LA, we believe in sharing the knowledge related to landscape architecture and the benefits of designing with/for nature. We do so with short blog entries, talks and publications.


Who I am:

AS – Landscape Architecture was established by Anna Sieczak in 2019. After years of working in the profession, with the spirit of a discoverer, she decided to hold the steer and work on projects that allow venturing into new ideas, design and ecology areas.

Anna Sieczak is a Chartered Landscape Architect (CMLI), lecturer in Garden Design at Capel Manor College at The Regent’s Park and a member of the Conservation And Design Advisory Panel (CADAP) for London Borough of Tower Hamlet.

Polish by birth, Londoner by choice. A cyclist and active traveller, she is passionate about the natural and urban environment and equality. She writes about design, landscape architecture and garden design.

Her background in Oceanography makes her fully aware of changes occurring in nature caused by human activities and the importance of environmental protection. She turned into landscape architecture, ‘the most comprehensive of arts’, as she believes that these changes can be mitigated with careful placemaking, master-planning, and design: small and large scales.

She graduated with an Engineer in Landscape architecture (inżynier) from KUL in Lublin, Poland and a PgDiploma from the University of Greenwich, London, the UK. She got her Chartership in May 2016.

Anna’s previous works include designing and managing projects in the UK and overseas: Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. She is experienced in projects at various scales: from small-scale residential gardens and community projects to complex commercial/public realm schemes, from design to construction. 

Portfolio of previous works available upon request.


Let’s talk:

If you have a project AS-LA may be able to assist with, let’s discuss:

PHONE: 07527346833

EMAIL: info@annasieczak.com