SUDS, LID, WSUD have come a long way since I first came across the idea, about 20 years ago (see Chapter 9 River engineering, channelization and floods). But it is a pity that it remains dominated by engineering concepts. Of course the engineering is important, but the idea also has poetic and visual aspects which are rarely explored, except by Herbert Dreiseitl’s Waterscapes practice. Have a look at the Flickr groups on Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems and SUDS. The designs are very worthy but, except for the traditional ‘craft’ examples, they lack design inspiration. Most of the ideas hover between wartime economy furniture and a boy scout aesthetic. Then look at the CIRIA website’s treatment of SUDS. Only a whiff of wildlife saves the ugly concrete detailing from prison architecture. The illustrations from America’s Low Impact Development Center are better without coming anywhere near the Dreiseitl standard. If sustainable landscape architecture is to have the glorious future it deserves, it must be beautiful as well as useful.
(Image of The bioretention facility at LID feature at Harrison Crossing Shopping Center in Spotsylvania County, Virginia courtesy fredericksburg)