The Green Prescription

Discussing the importance of urban greening and ‘the green prescription’, and how this effects peoples wellbeing.

By Alice Harwood

Deacon Design were invited by course leader Dr Monkiz Khasreen to deliver a guest lecture to Architectural Design and Technology undergraduates, as part of their Sustainable Architectural Design module. We discussed the importance of urban greening and ‘the green prescription’, and how this effects peoples wellbeing.

The lecture space was shared with Mike Worthington of Snug Architects who showcased their innovative design for Hope Street, Southampton. Hope Street is a pilot project that supports a healing trauma service for women caught up in the justice system, and includes space for them to have their children living with them. 

The design for the placemaking, internal and external spaces was underpinned by thoughtful design decisions based on creating the most helpful configuration of light, space, and materials to achieve an environment conducive to trauma healing and rehabilitation.

The ethos of placemaking with wellbeing driving the design thinking is applicable at all scales from regional planning and spatial design down to very localised community spaces.  The concept of health & wellbeing can be expanded and broadened to include the understanding of how the quality human environment in the widest sense is contributes to the economic and societal health of nations.

Health and Wellbeing in the Landscape

There is a growing formal recognition of the importance of nature connection to preventative healthcare as well as health and wellbeing outcomes in the context of healing. The NHS long term plan, published January 2019 commits to the broader concept of social prescribing and the Covid 19 pandemic highlighted the importance of being outside to people’s mental and physical health as well as the inequality of access to green space.

Evolving government policy requirement for Local Planning Authorities to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain (Environment Act 2021, policy to become mandatory November 2023) reflects wider concerns in response to Climate Change and can provide an catalyst for the mainstreaming of designing for Green Infrastructure and the multiple benefits this approach can provide for people, the economy and the environment.

Public Health & Green Infrastructure

The TCPA makes clear the importance of multifunctionality and connectivity in its discussion of Green Infrastructure. Through design thinking that focusses on the benefits and function of GI, Landscape Architects have the opportunity to contribute to placemaking that makes healthy lifestyle choices more available to the population.   Examples include walkable cities. safe and accessible active transport choices, designing safe, accessible, and inclusive urban green spaces.  Aside from the spatial design, Landscape Architects can help create opportunities for active engagement in the Community Gardens and nature-based voluntary groups which will form a component of the formal Green Prescription ethos.

Applying Strategic GI to Spatial Planning

Deacon Design employed a Landscape-Led Approach to this Settlement Gap spatial planning study.  This approach to urban and regional development prioritizes the landscape as a starting point for planning and design. This approach seeks to create resilient and sustainable places by working with the natural and cultural factors of a site.

Landscape led planning helps to embed opportunities for connected multifunctional natural landscapes forming the structure for communities of all scales and creating opportunities for the natural environment to link through urban areas.

Our approach understands that successful landscape and urban design must integrate social, economic, and environmental factors.

Urban Regeneration and Urban Extension

Urban Regeneration projects have the opportunity to respond to address Health and Wellbeing issues that have evolved within an existing place.  Where projects have an existing community, existing data can be used to inform design thinking to deliberately address key concerns and meet the needs of an existing community, including through consultation and co-design.

Urban Extensions are often designed for a theoretical community as the designers anticipate the needs of the end-user.  This one stop approach can sometimes prove difficult in delivering a sense of place. Employing a landscape architect from the outset can help map opportunities for people and nature-friendly developments. Planning for landscape scale sustainable drainage, ecology and recreation will help to embed the GI network to support healthy lifestyles.

Community co-design & Stakeholder engagement

Co-design describes a process where the end-user community members act as equal collaborators in the design process. Co-design understands the users unique insights and experiences, which can inform the design process to result in more effective and relevant solutions. By involving the community and end-users in the design process, we can create solutions that are more meaningful and relevant.

Deacon Design worked with pupils and teachers at Orchard Lea Infant School to create a garden that is both a fun space to be in and has ecological and educational value.

Collaborative and Multidisciplinary approach.

The continuing trend towards collaborative multifunctional and landscape led design provides an exciting opportunity for Landscape Architects to meaningfully contribute to the Health & wellbeing agenda. Evolving design and delivery models such as co-design are an important part of this approach, ensuring end-user needs are meaningfully embedded into the design. A design process that allows community stakeholders to be heard creates positive places that will be used fully and will function well, encourage healthy lifestyles and community cohesion.

If you would like to discuss how we could work with you and your design team to help deliver Green Prescription on your site please do drop us a line on 01329 557820