Monday, 16 February 2015

Imagine if we could turn a city's derelicts into jungles?

TheMushyPea is currently residing in Bristol. It's a wonderful city, bursting with sustainable innovations, beautiful buildings, great bars and an alarming amount of patchwork clothing. It is also filled with a large number of derelict buildings. Old warehouses, abandoned 50s office blocks, yards and car parks. You name it, Bristol's got it.

There are strong positives to this state of affairs. It provides opportunities. It means opening a gallery or exhibition space is possible. It gives the potential for new housing and work areas within the city. Green cities must also be dense cities after all - otherwise we gobble up greenbelt and force people into their cars.

Having said all that there are a lot of pretty ugly urban catastrophes around. Some have been this way for decades, and might remain so for decades more. Furthermore many of the redevelopment plans, while perhaps an improvement, are hardly inspiring.

Imagine buildings like this coated in luscious greenery,
their forecourts a riot of wildlife. 
I think we could do better. Imagine if we could start to take just a few of the big hulking eyesores that dot the city, just a fraction of the most egregious concrete canyons, and 'rewild' them. We could coat the exteriors in green walls of native species, put in bat boxes and holes for birds. Shrubs and climbers could explode in the abandoned foyers and parking spots. Squirrels and polecats would battle through empty offices. It would be radical, and incredibly beautiful. It would be acknowledged around the world.

And it would be relatively cheap. There might need to be a few compulsory purchase orders, but in the scheme of urban renewal I would wager it would be a steal.

At a time when we know we need to bridge the disconnect between nature and urban living, what better way to show that Bristol is prepared to really do things differently.

Some sort of tropical overgrown building. Ours won't have these plants, but they'll still be beautiful.