Nurture through nature
Southmead is a northern suburb of Bristol dominated by council estates. The first was built before the Second World War, the second was built just after – both in a bid to clear central Bristol of slum housing. Today the area is changing. Right to buy has seen some houses move into private ownership, and new mixed developments have begun to alter the social fabric.
What all residents share is Southmead’s public green spaces. But while there’s plenty to go around, some are of a dubious quality.
Churchman Thornhill Finch entered a competition to redesign a wide strip of green running through the centre of Southmead, bordering Greystoke Avenue. Although planted with some semi-mature trees, it was little more than an expanded verge with nothing to encourage community use.
We saw an opportunity to create a rich natural corridor - a gorgeous greenway for Southmead. This would be a space where residents could connect with nature, and where members of the community could connect with each other.
Our vision delivered a rich biodiversity boost – introducing a diverse mix of species to a sterile grass desert. New habitats would be created for urban wildlife – from bees to badgers– with links to nearby parks and allotments creating a green corridor.
Enhancing the environment would also bring tangible benefits to the local community. Benches, tables, and wild nooks would encourage people to seek a little peace amongst rustling leaves and the fragrant scents of nature. But they would also encourage people to meet and mingle – to chat, to play, to ponder.
It’s a joined-up approach often missing in deprived areas. Research has shown that less than 1 percent of people living in social housing use the green space in their estate due to the lack of facilities and concerns about safety. As a profession it’s in our gift to help change that statistic – a responsibility we’re ready and willing to address.