A Supertree Dream?

You may have heard rumours.  I don’t know what you think about them.  There’s talk of building and improvements, regeneration, the ‘Arnside and Glencoyne Square Regeneration Project’.  But what is that, maybe you haven’t heard?

The Arnside and Glencoyne Square Regeneration Project has been started to give us a chance to redefine the heart of our neighbourhood.  It’s being steered by the Southmead Development Trust in partnership with BS10 Parks and Planning.  Both these organisations have built a reputation on putting Southmead Residents first, and that’s the principal central to this project: it’s all about building something for the benefit of all of us who live here.

This is the first in a series of articles that asks you to respond, to be creative, provocative, realistic, whatever you want!  What do you dream of for Southmead?  I’m going to start off with something you probably think is plain nuts, but it is also totally cool . . . ‘Vertical Gardens’!

In 2005 the prime minister of Singapore announced the opening of an international competition for the design of a new park on reclaimed land.  Entries flooded in and the result was, what is today, ‘Gardens by the Bay’ – a 250-acre nature park that opened in 2012.

The park is made up of three individual gardens. The largest, Bay South Garden, is the work of a British team led by Grant Associates from just down the road in Bath, and it’s in the centre of this garden that you can find the ‘Supertree Grove’.  The enormous metal tree-like structures tower up to 50 metres into the air; awesome at a distance, these creations are overwhelming closer-up.  On more detailed inspection you see that these seemingly man-made trees are actually shrouded by thousands of small plants.  You realise that what you are looking at is a forest of ferns, vines, orchids and tropical flowers, their leaves and petals combining to give shade and habitat.  High up in the steel branches, solar panels mimic the action of the leaves turning sunlight into useful energy, and rainwater is harvested to supply the park’s ‘Flower Dome’ and ‘Cloud Forest’.

I’ll be honest with you; there are no plans for anything like this for Southmead at the moment, of course not.  But could there be, if we really wanted it?

Vertical gardens around the world come in many forms, and the concept is really only beginning to be explored.  In recent years the innovation has been driven by Patrick Blanc of the French National Centre for Scientific Research.  Take a look at his book ‘The Vertical Garden: From Nature To The City’, or online at www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com for information and inspiration.

So back to the question: is there something here for Southmead?  What could we benefit from?  What would it look like?

Please send me your comments, dreams, and designs, to AGRP c/o Greenway Centre.