Bringing green spaces into city centres

Cities across the UK are being transformed with “green spaces” to allow residents to be closer to nature and for positive environmental impacts!

One of these is the Birmingham Big City Plan, which is the most ambitious development project ever undertaken in the UK. This is a 20 year plan to cover every aspect of the environment. 

Some of the benefits of this project include creating 1.5million square metres of new floorspace, creating 50,000 jobs and making the city centre well-connected, efficient and more walkable.

Birmingham has already seen a push towards alternative methods of transport, with the Clean Air Zone being implemented and aims to make Birmingham 2022 the first carbon neutral Commonwealth Games. The Big City Plan is hoping to create 28km of enhanced walking and cycling routes. 

Although there are plans for 5000 new homes to be built for families, the impact of climate change needs to be addressed within this, so integrating sustainable development will be key to the project. 

The settlement, which is due to be built around the National Exhibition Centre in Solihull, will “establish an inclusive, diverse and prosperous community for over 11000 people,” and will “work in harmony with the existing mature woodland and hedgerow landscape, and promote nature-focused and active lifestyles.”

The development will include low-carbon housing with low energy environmental design, which will explore modern methods of construction. There will be amenities, a range of communal uses and a primary school to create a “15-minute neighbourhood.”

Some of the green projects that have already seen success include the King’s Cross visitor centre at Camley Street Natural Park.

The new centre greets visitors to the park, and comprises a large multipurpose learning space, volunteer facilities, small office and cafe kiosk. It can also hold functions such as weddings. 

Sustainability was one of the core values of the project – the chimney-like structures on the roof even provide habitat for nesting birds!

Other measures include a timber frame, wood fibre insulation, a timber-clad super-insulated building envelope, natural daylit spaces and ventilation, low-flow taps, rainwater collection and high air-tightness. 

This design reflects on the history of the area whilst looking forward to the future, providing a space for respite from the buzz of King’s Cross, and a spot for learning about wildlife conservation. This was supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.