Perspectives Covid-19 Response

Gillespies Covid-19 Response

Redefining the landscapes of our time

We are entering a new era where the relationship we have with our open spaces and buildings is changing forever. Landscape, urban design and landscape planning are the means to reconnect us with one another and the external environment, restoring vitality, well-being and, perhaps most importantly, joy in the places we all share.

Gillespies continue to champion the role well-designed landscapes and public realms can play in improving people’s health and quality of life, as well as its ability to bring people together from all backgrounds to share and enjoy spaces in an informal and congenial way. We are passionate about creating healthy, sustainable and successful places that add real value to people’s lives, and we will use this expertise to help you lead the way in bringing life back to our cities, towns and neighbourhoods.

A new healthy and nature-led urbanism

The increasing pace of development is at odds with that of the natural world, with potentially catastrophic consequences, not only for the planet but also for our physical and mental health. Rapid urbanisation has led to cities dominated by high-rise developments, monotonous neighbourhoods, traffic-dominated streets and diminishing public spaces. But recent events have offered us a sense of an alternative, ‘greener’ reality, one with less traffic, cleaner air; safer and quieter streets, and a renewed appreciation of how contact with nature and its flow and seasonality can improve our well-being while reminding us of the importance of nurturing the wider ecosystems of which we are a part of.

Gillespies’ work continues to place nature at the very heart of our communities, finding innovative ways to embed green space and nature into the fabric of our environments. Pioneering landscape-led projects, such as our work at Elephant Park in Elephant and Castle and King’s Road Park in Fulham are setting a new standard for inner-city urban regeneration, where the landscape and public spaces are playing a crucial role in mitigating the impacts of climate change and improving public health, through the delivery of new habitats and healthier, more pleasant environments.

Speeding time up does not make for successful places. The need now is to build in slower, calmer spaces that resonate with our desire for healthier and more balanced lives. Hardworking, resilient and adaptable landscapes will be part of the solution to combatting the global issues of climate change, public health and social inequalities.

Elephant Park for client Lendlease © Cityscape Digital

Reawakening our cities, streets and squares

We believe in the future of our cities. They are powerful generators of ideas and cultural exchange that continue to warrant investment. The means to recapture their success relies strongly on repurposing them to make them more inclusive and relevant to new and future ways of living, working and socialising. Gillespies’ knowledge of trends and expertise in shaping new cities, high streets and public realms means we can accelerate positive change.

Our experience has taught us the value of building in flexibility so that our public spaces can adapt to shifting patterns of use as society’s needs change. We used this principle in the design of Bradford City Park, a community space and water feature that during the summer draws thousands of people to the heart of Bradford and is the scene of good-natured conviviality. The park can be quickly drained to provide a flexible space for community events, weekly markets, and a spill-out space for nearby cafés and restaurants.

More so than ever, the quality of an environment is of vital importance in determining whether a city is a healthy place to live and work. The life force of cities is centred on movement, but transportation makes up nearly 30% of our global emissions. As such, successful cities will need to give greater priority to the delivery of more low-carbon forms of transport, such as public transport, pedestrian and cyclist routes, to ensure the resilience of our urban and rural centres.

Strengthening and supporting our neighbourhoods to become sustainable local centres, with transport, work, shops, play and schools on our doorstep, will also be vital in making our urban areas more attractive and healthier places to live, work and grow.

A new community space in Bradford © Tim Green, Flickr

Bringing change through collaboration

We have seen people around the world talking to each other like never before, finding novel ways to share experiences and ideas, which are helping to look after peoples’ wellbeing and rebuild a lost sense of community. Creativity, be it individual endeavours or across communities, is also thriving as people seek opportunities to reshape their lives and that of the spaces around them. However, recent events have also highlighted the profound inequalities that exist globally within society. In particular, the social inequalities between those living in high-rise apartments with limited or no access to private or public outdoor space and those living in leafy suburbs with private gardens and nature on their doorstep.

Gillespies’ aim is to restore people’s confidence in public spaces: to rethink how we live, move and connect with one another. We can achieve this by engaging with everyone who has a vested interest in reactivating and greening our cities, streets and public spaces. Together we want to address the existing green space inequalities, by building spaces and landscapes within developments that are fair, inclusive and safe for all. The diversity of our great cities and neighbourhoods is one of their greatest strengths and the new spaces we share should be socially harmonious places where everyone can succeed and prosper, no matter their background.

Aldgate Square in the City of London