This is your third project for Habitat First. Is there a common thread which runs through the sites from an ecological perspective?
It’s not something we shout about but so far all our estates are former quarries. It’s an incredible opportunity from a re-wilding perspective as we have a pretty blank slate and we can encourage native plants and animals to thrive as part of our overall design.
Birchwood is set to achieve a really high score in terms of nature conservation. DEFRA has rated our biodiversity index at 114, which is a huge jump from quarry’s original restoration plan score of only 7 points. The site will be in a much better position than if it had simply been turned into a lake.
How does ecology feed into the architectural masterplan?
Essentially, we build with nature in mind. The river is a very important wildlife corridor so we ensure it’s kept dark, and clean. We also adhere to the principles of SUDS or sustainable drainage, with reed beds to reduce the impact of rainwater runoff. And, of course, we incorporate nesting boxes into every house, for doormice, bats and bees.
I think it’s a win-win. We create a habitat where both wildlife and humans benefit, enabling species to increase and people to feel close to nature, which academics call “biophilic living” – there’s a whole movement around it in health and wellness circles.
Tell us more…
I’m a big fan of Dr Miles Richardson, who suggests we all need places to pause and reflect within natural surroundings. He has analysed the Japanese concept of forest bathing, and found that being in the woods encourages our bodies to release calming hormones, which helps contribute towards our happiness and satisfaction, reducing stress levels and improving healing times.Back to Ecology