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Using water as a creative design tool

Are you hearing a lot about SUDS and WSUD* at the moment?

Out of season we tend to forget how devastating flooding can be to communities and property, but planning for water is an ongoing and pressing need. While increasing attention is given to surface water run-off on development sites this is a piecemeal solution and only the start of better water management. Its time for SUDs to stop being a tick box for the developer to get planning consent and for the industry to tune into this great galvanising design opportunity – an essential which adds lasting environmental value.

Catering for water capacity from the outset can make a holistic scheme with embedded benefits for wildlife as well as local communities living in proximity to a biodiverse environment. It also adds a structuring logic to the way that we design. Making sense of how levels work and keeping water at the surface is essential to the success of the system so that water brings all its benefits to living organisms, as well as playing its light refracting dance which people love. Resist at all costs the closed circuit of pipes and culverts, use rills and channels, streams and swales, pools and ponds to ensure that water is live, visible and vital.

There is a compelling draw to water, it can focus and give spatial quality to public space, conjures delight and adds value to waterfront development, aiding identity and character. It also brings additional layers and diverse design ideas to the scheme, inspiring contemplation and a sense of wellbeing to residents and visitors alike.

While residential schemes provide opportunities for small scale schemes our city centre project for Peterborough (a city with long flooding history) included the retention and reuse of water within the public realm in a series of integrated and diverse solutions which reduced the rigidity of the streetscape, provided seasonal change in transformational and versatile spaces.

Jane Fowles

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Jane Fowles

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