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Tomo covered the advantages of integrating blue-green infrastructure into the urban form. There are multiple benefits related to lifestyle, physical and mental health, as well as tackling the effects of climate-change.

As the global urban population continues to increase, cities will need to absorb more rain in less time in order to prevent flooding. At the same time, cities will need to store water in some way, in order to bridge prolonged periods of drought. Furthermore, cities must integrate more and more green space into their forms as a way of reducing heat in hotter months. A global decline in biodiversity as a result of mankind’s practices mean urban design can play a role in mitigating these losses (to some degree) by increasing green space in inner cities, and preserving green belts on the periphery (United Nations 2011).

2009-2010 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects, Credit: UN, Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Tomo mentioned the potential for green roofs, green walls and green space in Newcastle and the potential of these measures in flood prevention. Improving the city’s green and blue infrastructure could have both qualitative and qualitative advantages through greater provision of green roofs, wetlands, surface water ponds, and more green urban space. Furthermore, a greater availability of green space and urban water helps increase biodiversity in towns and cities. Green areas help particularly when it comes to improving the sponge effect of towns and cities.

Green-blue grids can facilitate a whole host of functions including: water treatment and storage, district cooling, biomass production, nature development, food production, recreation, as well as acting like the lungs of the urban environment. With regards to heat alleviation, districts with greater amounts of vegetation or surface water can but up to 10 degrees cooler than heavily bricked or concrete urban areas (Urban Green-Blue Grids).

Many may consider cities as anti-ecology, which would be fair to assume given the fact that cities have become so inefficient at handling waste. Cities are massive-scale consumers of water, resources and food, meanwhile producing enormous amounts of waste in the form of air pollution and CO2. Improving biodiversity however, does not have to be such a challenge, because providing the space for species to flourish can be made possible through extending blue-green grids and optimising all available space. Take a look New York City Beekeepers Association, who are producing local raw honey in none other than Brooklyn, NYC!

Beekeeping in New York City, Credit: Teresa Yost, NYCBA

One aspect of blue-green grids that I am particularly fond of is the potential for urban food production. I find the juxtaposition of something once exclusively rural like agriculture, integrated into cities, very exciting.

There is great potential for urban blue-green grids in cities. Interestingly, the scale of urban sustainability, if executed efficiently, should range from the macro scale – urban districts – to the micro scale – each individual house. Food production, for example, can be implemented at the macro scale, as well as the micro scale. Housing can be designed to produce as little waste as possible, meanwhile producing and consuming its own energy, generated through various means of sustainable energy production.

A Roof Garden Farm, Credit: Walter Kolb

References:

UN (United Nations); 2009-2010 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects; Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the UN, 2011

Urbangreenbluegrids.com. (2017). Urban green-blue grids: for sustainable and resilient cities. [online] Available at: http://www.urbangreenbluegrids.com/about/introduction-to-green-blue-urban-grids/ [Accessed 5 Jan. 2018].

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New York City Beekeepers Association – http://www.bees.nyc/blog/

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School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk


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