Podcast by Hassell Studio
The value of emotional connections to nature
Plants in our cities are important for many reasons, like flooding and urban cooling and biodiversity and human wellbeing and health.
But they also have economic impacts that make green cities as attractive to developers and investors as those who just want to stop and smell the roses.
Episodes 12 and 13 of Hassell Talks looked at why we value wild, natural planting in our cities as well as the importance of scale, ecology and sustainability when creating landscapes that appear natural and organic.
For Episode 14, Principal Jon Hazelwood explores the significance of our emotional connections to nature in cities. He is joined by writer, garden designer and TV presenter Michael McCoy as well as Professor Nigel Dunnett, who is responsible for some of the UK’s most spectacular planted environments like the Barbican, Buckingham Palace's Diamond Garden and the planting designs for the London Olympic park (with his colleague James Hitchmough).
Is 'native' the only answer to the biodiversity question?
The impact of nature on our immediate wellbeing has never been more apparent in our cities than during the lockdowns around the world in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. So does it matter if the nature is native or introduced?
This debate around native or exotic urban planting can sometimes be a thorny one, culturally, environmentally and emotionally and over the longer term, climate change brings the role of planting and landscape into sharp focus as we consider the future health of our cities.
On the other hand, wholly exotic landscapes bring with them issues of culture, context and invasive issues. Perhaps the answer is somewhere in the middle. Carefully controlled “wild” environments like small pocket parks or larger spaces like New York's famous High Line in are vastly different, but non-native plants play a crucial role alongside native species. In this way designers are ensuring biodiversity, eco-systems and cultural aspects are all catered and cared for.
Following on from Episode 12 of Hassell Talks, 'Making cities wild again', in this episode host Jon Hazelwood brings together Professor James Hitchmough and internationally acclaimed garden designer Piet Oudolf to propose a different, less binary way of thinking about natives and non-natives. Together they look at why carefully considered planting needs to be seen at scale, and for people, ecology and wildlife.
Why would we want nature in the city anyway?
It might be hard to measure, but we know interacting with nature has an impact on our emotions – and that’s never been more apparent in cities during lockdown.
But does the kind of planting we encounter in urban environments matter? Are planned and cultivated spaces what we need, or could we be craving ‘wilder’, less predictable landscapes that fully immerse us in nature?
When it was published in 2015, the book Planting in a Post-Wild World challenged conventional ideas about designing green spaces that would flourish in our cities and suburbs – and capture people’s hearts and minds. It made a groundbreaking argument for a hybrid approach of both the wild and the cultivated that continues to gather momentum today.
Case in point: The High Line in New York – the poster child for naturalistic planting in a city. No other public space project has had such a powerful influence on design thinking in recent times.
In this episode of Hassell Talks, landscape architect Jon Hazelwood talks to Claudia West – director of Phyto studio and co-author of Planting in a Post-Wild World – and Robert Hammond, co-founder and CEO of The High Line, about planting the seeds for a deeper, more fulfilling relationship with nature, whatever the space, scale or budget
A better fit: tailoring design for a sustainable future
Beyond the impeccable dress sense, designers working in fashion and city-making have a lot in common - both sectors can have indisputable impacts on the world - on a very large scale.
Right now they also have an opportunity to think more deeply about the impact of their work on people, places and our collective future. While fashion is often fast and seasonal and architectural design is often a longer process, both are responsible for dictating trends and aspirations – and both can generate significant amounts of waste.
Our Head of Design Technology and Innovation, Xavier de Kestelier, got together with Christopher Raeburn, Creative Director at Timberland and sustainable fashion brand RÆBURN, to talk about whether technology and similarities in the supply chain can lead to more collaboration between the industries and greater sustainability overall.
“There are some cross industry initiatives that we can work towards, along with things like carbon neutrality and travel that now need to be just standard,” says Christopher.
“But what can we do over and above that? We should, in the right way, challenge each other."
Re-emerge resilient: what can trends tell us about the future for cities, spaces and designers
We don’t know exactly what our lives, work and communities will look like post COVID-19.
But one thing we’re sure of is that some trends we saw developing over the past few years have only accelerated since the global pandemic took hold.
They’re trends that are changing how we reimagine or repurpose spaces, think about mobility, and connect with each other and our communities – not to mention increase the appeal of a slowed-down culture. These shifts all have implications for the way people are interacting with places – and as designers this is a time to listen and partner with clients and communities to help us all re-emerge resilient.
For this episode of our podcast, we’re joined by our good friend and collaborator David Grant of Brickfields Consulting. As consumer research experts, David and his team have been delving deeper into these trends, giving our clients and designers extra insights into the people who will use the places we create.
David joins Hassell Principals Angus Bruce, Liz Westgarth, Chong Wang and Richard Mullane to discuss the impact and opportunities for cities from San Francisco to Sydney and Shanghai to London.
Autonomy, mastery and meaning: What the next generation of design talent wants
Can design firms be truly future-focused if they’re not appealing to the next generation? What will attract the best designers of the future? How do firms give talent the right platforms to make a positive difference?
We are obsessed with how design can make a difference in the future so in this episode of Hassell Talks we dive right in with Jan Owen AM, Co Chair / Convenor of Learning Creates Australia, and former CEO of Foundation for Young Australians, and Managing Director Steve Coster to uncover what makes tomorrow’s design leaders tick, what they’re looking for – and how to unleash their world-changing potential.