The Brighton High Line?

So why not a Brighton High Line at Madeira Drive?

Flying high above New York City’s Meatpacking district is the High Line. You’ll have heard of it – it’s in the top 5 most Instagrammed sites in the world, receives over 7 million visitors a year. The cost was $273m. The additional tax revenues alone are estimated at $900m, with some $2bn additional local economic activity.

According to GreenPlay LLC, “The High Line district (including the Chelsea neighborhood), long back-on-its-heels, is now one of the hottest markets for upscale residential, retail, and office-center development.

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A recent visit by Building Green left us even more impressed than we expected to be. Run entirely by a Trust and a volunteer workforce, the place was packed with happy, strolling visitors. Gardeners moved through the planting, leaving wafts of mint and other fragrances in the wake of their secateurs. There were shops and stalls – all profits back to the Trust – as well as public art, recliners and all around the activity of cranes and new development in progress. As the sign on a new apartment block put it “Think the High Line is Cool? Check out our Roof Deck and no fee rentals“.

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Now to Brighton. We already have a high line – it’s Madeira Terraces, created by the Victorians for similar motives to the modern New Yorkers. Work is underway to source funding for their repair and restoration, and we have the marvellous backdrop of the Madeira Drive Green Wall for visitors to enjoy again in future as they walk the regenerated seafront.

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But what if the terrace deck itself was greened? Planted with attractive, fragrant and salt tolerant plants that were a reason for walking the terrace itself? The terrace as a destination, not just a roof for new businesses or a viewing platform for occasional events? It can be done technically. It has access including a mid-level lift at the Concorde. It may well provide an additional avenue for funding, and add value to the offer the restored terraces provide through increased footfall, marketability and environmental quality.

What do you think? Here at Building Green, we will be promoting this vision and encouraging the Council to adopt it. Can you help? Here’s a collage that provides some food for thought.

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Green Architecture Day tomorrow!

Don’t forget, our own James Farrell and Lee Evans will be at Green Architecture Day tomorrow.

Come down and say hello! – we are speaking at 1040.

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For info, tickets etc visit here.

Green Architecture Day – lineup confirmed

Green Architecture Day line up has been confirmed for 2017.

Taking place on 25 March, it includes the following speakers:

  • James Farrell and Lee Evans from Building Green and Organic Roofs – green walls and roofs
  • Duncan Baker-Brown – The reuse atlas
  • Jasmine & Simon Dale – The Lammas eco village and building Hobbiton
  • Bill Knight & James Shorten – Why do planning experts grow mushrooms?
  • Cath Hassell – SuDS in the City – Sustainable water solutions
  • Sandy Halliday – Pushing the envelope – putting the eco in economics

For tickets etc, please visit https://brightonpermaculture.org.uk/courses/greenarchitecture

Come and say hello!

Building Green at the Hanover Action public meeting, 28 October

Building Green founder James Farrell is speaking at the next meeting of Hanover Action, Friday 28 October.

The meeting is from 6.30 pm at Hanover Community Centre on Southover Street, and there will be talks and plant stalls. More details here.

The subject is ‘Greening our urban landscape‘, and James is speaking about the potential to plant up your building surfaces.

Joining James is Organic Roofs head honcho Lee Evans, and Paul Norman from the One Planet Living Group.

Come along – it’s free! – learn stuff, make friends, get inspired!

Brighton & Hove Building Green

Rooftop revolution?

Councillor Robert Nemeth has called for a ‘rooftop revolution’ to do something with Brighton’s ‘wasted roof space’. Visitors to the i360 look across a pretty desolate landscape north over Brighton.

Here at Building Green we couldn’t agree more and will seek a meeting. We’re pleased to see the Aroe MSK installation on the Hilton roof, but think green roofs would be a greater contribution to the health of the city.

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Read the article in the Independent here and here.

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In London there are planning requirements for green roofs and walls on developments over a certain size. In Germany and Switzerland things are rather more established, with Government incentives that encourage greening that creates benefits for storm water management. Portland does this too, with it’s Ecoroof incentive.

That’s the gauntlet for Brighton & Hove then – develop the incentives and policies to make the city a leader in making the most of that ‘wasted space’. A hella better view for i360 tourists too!

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Some inspiration from across the Pond

So we like to think we have some great green roofs and walls here in Brighton. Well, we do – but there are lessons we can learn from others including the good citizens of Olympia WA, San Francisco CA and Portland OR.

I was lucky enough to visit this summer – here are some pictures that I hope act as inspiration. We could think, and act, so much bigger.

In the Government complex at Olympia, Washington, is a large area of green roof established on underground car parks. Food is grown for local food banks, tended by Government workers. Some lovely large squash ripening in the sun. There is a large area of wildflower mix (‘Ecolawn’) sown for insects and appearance, and is not watered. This has been established by the Department of Enterprise Services – basically the legal and procurement department!

Nearby, just outside the historic Capitol building, is an area of rain gardens that have been retrofitted to help manage storm water. They are very attractive, and feature seating to encourage enjoyment.

San Francisco Academy of Sciences has a living roof…that is so large it is a visitor attraction in its own right. Not a very good photo, so I’ve stolen one from the website and there are more here.

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Also in San Francisco were these mini gardens, usually in shopping areas, that brought planting into very urban settings, softened the street scene and provided fun features and places to relax. A ‘public parklet’ indeed!

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Portland, Oregon is well known for its approach to sustainable urban planning and design. The whole neighbourhood we stayed in (Alberta – much like Brighton in its hipsterness) has bioswales and other street level drainage built in. Basically permeable sidewalks (ownership extends to the kerb so householders plant up their strip of sidewalk however they like), roof drainage to ground level, street level swales and other features incorporated into street furniture and traffic calming. Drains are clearly marked to encourage people not to use them for disposing nasties. Much of the sidewalk strip was used to grow veggies and fruit – including a nearby pub that harvested salad crops from the street and boasted of it on its menu.

Here in Brighton, a number of partners including the Council and Environment Agency have launched a pilot ‘sustainable drainage’ scheme in Portslade. Great, but surely we could be bolder?