Megan and I were sitting in a Building with Nature training course, when this opening question was posed. Casting my mind back across more years than I like to remember, the first thing that came to mind was a summer holiday club that I used to go to as a kid, set in a Nature Reserve in Birmingham. It was only a small site, a former forge surrounded by various industrial buildings, but there was space for paddling in the brook, a wooded area great for building dens, hills to roll down and several large ponds where we spotted water boatmen. We had a brilliant time, something I‘m not sure could be said for the poor Ranger who had to manage the whole thing.
It got me thinking about how lucky we were to have that on our doorstep. Doing some research now as an adult, I learnt that at one point the ponds had been drained to be used for landfill, but local campaigning led to the site being purchased by Birmingham City Council and turned into a Nature Reserve. It became a place that brought enjoyment to many local people. It is an example of the benefits that come from having wildlife close by, being able to spend time close to water and retaining landscape assets, which as I learn during the training course, are principles which underpin the Building with Nature design approach.
Although I hadn’t thought about those summer holiday experiences at the nature reserve for a long time, I wonder if they perhaps inspired my path into Landscape Architecture and interest in a landscape led masterplan approach, prioritising opportunities for wildlife and open space. At Define, the creation of high quality green infrastructure is always a core principle of our design approach, and now that Megan and I are qualified Building with Nature Assessors, we look forward to using this additional tool to achieve high quality green infrastructure on all of our projects.