Monthly Archives: September 2011

Housing landscape architecture and planning

Would you rather live in the top row or the bottom row?

Would you rather live in the top row houses or the lower row houses? The top row gives you central heating, indoor toilets and no rising damp, no earwigs and few spiders. The lower row gives you peace, beauty, calm and sustainability.
The obvious thought is ‘Why can’t I have both?’ Well, perhaps you can, and modernising the lower row would probably be easier than de-modernising the top row. I think something went terribly wrong with the system which lays out new housing estates in the UK. The architecture is mundane but liveable. The external landscape is ghastly: too much roadspace, too much wasted land, too much impermeability, too many planning regulations, too much ugliness, too much engineering, too little sustainability, too little landscape architecture, mouldy little strips of ‘garden’. We need a housing revolution. The vested interests which control the system should be treated better than middle eastern dictators, but overthrown. Though not innocent, I do not see the motor car as the villain of the piece.
Images of British housing estates courtesy of : lydiashiningbrightly dkohara jimmy_macdonald

Cabbages, flowers and other vegetables in a cottage garden

Busy in the park

Sunday Afternoon in Fuxing Park

China is a busy country, even when relaxing. Shanghai’s public open spaces are particularly well used in the glorious late summer weather, and the emphasis is on doing something, even if it’s only watching what other people are doing. The only restriction that I have seen is on accepting money for singing or playing an instrument, so people do these things anyway, for free, and often to an extremely high standard. This is Fuxing Park, laid out by the French in 1909, 10 ha big. I particularly like it, because the activities that people choose are so much more charming than the parks at home, where jogging, football and grilling are the diversions of choice.