Inclusive Landscapes seminar
29th June 2007 at the Eden Project, Cornwall.
Inclusive Landscapes explored how public landscape design can take on the creative challenges of widening appeal and accessibility, involving local people in the design process and providing a positive role in environmental regeneration.
The seminar was jointly sponsored by the Sensory Trust, the Eden Project and the Landscape Institute South West Branch.
Nigel Thorne, President of the Landscape Institute chaired the day that was made up of a morning of speakers and an afternoon of onsite practical activity.
Dr Tony Kendle, Foundation Director at Eden, kicked off the day by getting us to think about the great challenges that lie ahead in the 21st Century, and how finding ways to work inclusively will be essential to positively adjust to the changes that lie ahead. He said that landscape architects have a key role in designing landscapes that promote this attitude to community inclusion.
Professor James Hitchmough, lecturer and researcher in the School of
Landscape, Sheffield University has carried out many years of research
into producing ecologically informed herbaceous plant communities that
are highly attractive to the public. His highly entertaining talk reported
on work that explored public responses to landscape vegetation and new
floral plantings in Sheffield. In particular he focused on how people
respond to planting schemes in urban parks, and some key findings included
the importance of colour in any scheme, and that teenagers were a lot
more conservative with their planting scheme preferences than older people
– perhaps this does not fit the stereotype?
Pete Lever from David Wilson Partnership, Barnstable talked about their
approach to public engagement and the importance of integrating this in
the design process. He presented their approach to involving pupils and
staff in a major school development, including the use of models and discussion
groups to get involvement from as many people as possible, and therefore
developing a very strong brief. A regeneration scheme in a Bristol street
was inspirational in its approach to landscape architecture, through encouraging
the local community into the site assessment, a new interest in the street
was generated and sustained partly through a local website. Very little
physical street design intervention was done, but the street began to
regenerate itself though community action.
Jane Knight, landscape architect, Eden Project talked about how Eden
Project has approached its ongoing landscape design and how in response
to the diversity of visitors to Eden, it has developed the landscape to
increase its accessibility and inclusivity. She illustrated her presentation
with many images of specific inclusive landscape developments across the
site, and discussed how many of them were designed in conjunction with
others such as the placing of new signage, buildings in the landscape
and sensory rich planting schemes. Please check out his full presentation
Richard Scott, project manager from Landlife highlighted the need for
greater diversity in contemporary planting design, and encouraged landscape
architects to take the opportunity to use wildflower seed mixes in a variety
of locations. Many of the schemes brought colour, seasonality and interest
into otherwise barren landscapes, and Richard showed schemes that acted
as a focus for community activity, including an opportunistic red poppy
scheme, that had unexpectedly generated a lot of positive interest from
the local Chinese community.
Jon Mitchell, senior landscape architect from Kerrier District Council presented a community led redesign of a playing field in Redruth. Following CABE guidelines, the local school children where involved in the design process. This included a field trip to another successful play park, finding out what activities were actually wanted by the children, design ideas generation and practical workshops.
Jon also described the proposed Heartlands regeneration project for Pool, currently seeking funding from the Lottery. He outlined the approach taken by the project to involve the community in the design process, including artist-led engagement sessions and open days.
Please contact Jon directly to discuss Kerrier DC projects and their approach to community involvement. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Stoneham, director of the Sensory Trust, talked about the diversity of people and the importance of creating sensory-rich environments. Jane also reminded the audience that designers must not lose their way in keeping a ‘sense of place’ when creating accessibility, and showed examples where the design solution for physical accessibility had completely ignored all other sensory experiences.
Helen Rosevear, landscape designer at the Sensory Trust, spoke about how landscape design is essentially about designing for people, and the importance of understanding this diversity of people in order to be an effective designer. Landscape designers should be aiming to create sensory-rich and accessible landscapes in all their designs and not segregating out specialised areas. Inclusive landscapes should be about integration and not segregation.
As an introduction to a suite of site evalutation tools, the delegates had the opportunity to use a sensory mapping technique developed by the Sensory Trust. This prompts the assessor to consider the wider sensory elements of the designed landscaped, but importantly it encourages them to think about how other people, for example a visually impaired person, may want to enjoy the landscape.
At the close of the day, a lively discussion on inclusive landscapes was chaired by Nigel Thorne, and most of the feedback on the day indicated that this subject was broader than many delegates had initially thought, and there was much interest in taking the ideas forward.
The Sensory trust would like to thank the Eden Project, the Landscape Institute South West and Nigel Thorne for their assistance and support with organising this event.