Our living evolution – part 3.


Greg Jones

Natural evolution: Realigned to a nature-led philosophy.

Modernism has been at the vanguard of design for the last century. Characterised by simplicity of aesthetic, open spaces, clean lines, in many instances, the style has led to a disconnect from nature.

In part 1 and 2, we looked at the importance of building strong and diverse communities, as well as the impact of good placemaking.

Connecting people with nature

Success lies in not bringing the natural ‘into’ the built environment, but rather in blurring the lines between the two. We will see welcoming and accessible spaces where people enjoy and interact with nature. This new approach is about amplifying and cultivating an affinity with the natural world. A compilation of green streets, spaces, places and activities bring an array of benefits, from improved air quality to resilience and urban tranquillity. These are garden-city principles combined with the density of urban amenity.

Celebration of natural diversity

The productive power of nature-based solutions will be central, not only to enhancing biodiversity but also to creating broader social, environmental and economic gains. An emphasis on diverse and natural habitats, along with green and blue infrastructure within developments will nurture climate resilient, living ecosystems and create temperatures comfortable for all. Strategic landscaping will increase species’ resilience to factors like disease, climate change and invasive species. Government-led Local Nature Recovery Strategies will have restored key areas. Nature’s value is amplified when it flourishes and, ultimately, strengthens our ability to depend on natural systems for food security, water management, air quality and temperature regulation.

Championing the circular economy

The key principles of durability, disassembly, re-use and adaptability will enable the efficient use of natural resources during a development’s lifecycle. Modern methods of construction will reduce environmental footprints, improve health and safety, and optimise construction. The industry will replace its indulgence in inefficiency and waste and instead embrace a creative productivity…One that captures the sculptural art in architecture in combination with natural poetry of circularity. Water is an impending crisis that hasn’t yet hit the collective UK consciousness. Urban environments will be planned and constructed to soak up almost every raindrop and capture that water reuse. Recycled water can be used to recharge depleted aquifers, irrigate gardens and urban farms, or – when properly treated – can replace drinking water, flush toilets or clean homes.

In 2100, when we look back at the defining style of our current age, could we recognise the re-birth of Naturalism as the leading philosophy of the time? Would this apply not only to design and placemaking, but in how people choose to live? Will we exist as part of nature, not in defiance of it?