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Tag Archive for 'environment'

Patrick Blanc to be featured on a Gardeners World Special this week ….

gardenersworld

from the BBC website:

Last year Joe Swift described how back gardens are being sold for development, reducing the amount of green space that oxygenates our cities and soothes our troubled souls. But instead of beating his chest and saying how terrible this is, he heads off to discover how to grow gardens where land is scare. In France, he visits the Parisian botanist Patrick Blanc’s famous hanging gardens, which use an ingenious irrigation system to grow plants on vertical walls. In the UK, he meets one man who has cultivated a jungle on his balcony, and another who has a garden of succulents growing on the dashboard of his van. He also meets Nigel Dunnett from Sheffield University, who is an expert on green roofs – a way of turning the humble house roof into a demi-paradise; an industry that is booming.

This Special Gardeners World show will be broadcast this coming Friday, March 20th 2009 on BBC Two @ 8pm, definitely one not to miss!

For more information on Patrick Blanc and his amazing work with Vertical Gardens read my post from last year here.

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What is ‘ecofont’ and where to recycle old printer ink cartridges? …

ecofont

Many of us try and avoid having to print things out onto paper nowadays.   However, sometimes the need for a hard copy is impossible to ignore.  I stumbled across Ecofont the other day over at Manchester-based blogger Lucy Danger’s “3R’s Recycling” site and it sounds like an interesting idea.

Ecofont is a newly created print font which you can download for free onto your PC or Mac.  It has a crisp modern feel but because of the holes within each letter it aims to use 20% less ink than any other font.  Next time I need to do a printout I shall give it a go and report back.  You can download the font and read a little more about it on the ecofont website.

Continuing in the recycling vein, I recently had to replace a whole load of ink cartridges on my printer and spent some time researching the best place to recycle them.  It used to be difficult getting anywhere to accept Epson cartridges for recycling but it seem they are trying to improve their green credentials and now offer a free recycling box for companies which can be requested through their website.   For individuals it is possible to log onto their website and request a freepost bag or use their freepost address with your own envelope.

I had HP and Canon cartridges and used greenertomorrow.org.uk; very simple just visit the website, request a freepost envelope and pop your old ink carts inside and post back.

The greenest option, if you live in a town or city, might be to drop off used cartridges at your local charity shop.  Most of them offer this facility and the charity can sometimes get a small financial reward in the process.

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Creative Studio sharing … a Danish example but it needs a green roof!

Maybe one day I will dabble in a bit of studio sharing. I often think it sounds like a stimulating and fun environment to work within, different creative skillsets all housed in one building with the possibility of collaboration plus the practical benefits of sharing facilities. Whilst savouring the wonderful design work on the bloesem site, I discovered a successful creative workspace enterprise called ‘Lynfabrikken’ (the lightning factory) based in Denmark.
I suppose the closest thing we have here in Manchester would be The Craft and Design Centre but it rents out only small units and does not have the space to attract photographers/musicians/film-makers. Maybe Islington Mill has the potential to grow into something bigger, though the Danish example seems to have a more central location and therefore the ability to morph itself into trendy cafe, place to be seen plus a gallery and performance venue. Lynfabrikken is open to the public with opportunities to buy and view unique work and provides a meeting spot for all the creative tenants and their clients.
I shall carry on with my idealised daydream for the Perfect Studio ….
Of course it would have to utilise all roof space, maybe a green living roof similar to the Unicorn Grocery roof project in Chorlton, their site has a live web-cam (you can actually control the camera movements!).
The Unicorn scheme provides a green escape for their employees and was designed specifically to attract the rare black redstart, a bird happy in the urban environment but rapidly disappearing from the UK. There have been reports of at least one breeding pair of these birds this summer in the centre of Manchester (near the CIS building) so maybe they will wing their way over to Unicorn one day soon.

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Two cycle schemes trying to make a difference: “Ciclovia” in Bogota and the “Velib” in Paris.

Well, it seems cycling has been deemed newsworthy in the UK at last. Naughty David Cameron has been found running a red light and going the wrong way down a one-way street on his bike. Something I would never do of course.
In an effort to balance out this negative press I urge you to take a look at this link: www.streetfilms.org/archives/lessons-from-bogota/ or click on the youTube image below.
It features a short film made all about an amazing scheme called “ciclovia” in Bogota where the usually car-laden streets are given over to pedestrians and cyclists every Sunday. It has been a massive success and shows how an area can be transformed if designers put community needs at the heart of things.
The film was made by a non-profit group aiming to reclaim New York back for its people. They want to improve the quality of life and make the streets safer for all New Yorkers; pedestrians and bicycles, skaters, rollerbladers, in fact any non-vehicular modes of transport. Via their website they provide evidence to back their case and a platform for discussion and dialogue on the issue: www.streetfilms.org.
Most people do agree that we must find alternatives to the car. Ideally, we want easy, cheap, practical and acceptable modes of transport. The rise of cycling in London has been dramatic since 2000 with a reported 83% increase in journey’s by bike. It shows the desire is there to use pedal power but conditions need to be right to make it happen and attitudes need to change.
In August last year Paris introduced a scheme called “Velib”, 20,000 bikes were dotted around 750 sites within the city centre for anyone to hire. One must purchase either a subscription (£20 for unlimited use all year) or pay per trip when the first half hour is free and then the cost is roughly a euro an hour. The system operates with either a pre-validated swipe card or the users credit card which then allows quick release of any bike from the bike’s locked collection points. Bikes do not have to be returned to the same spot.
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Use of the “Velib” has been high, with 1.6 million trips in the first month each bike being used roughly 30 times each day and that is despite many technical glitches suffered at the scheme’s start. The bikes also carry advertising space to subside some of the scheme’s costs. Using the bike as a portable marketing tool has encouraged advertisers to introduce schemes to Seville, Cordoba, Brussels and Vienna and is probably the most likely way a large scale scheme similar to the Parisian one may be brought to the UK.
Suprisingly, many of the Velib users are switchers from public transport rather than car-ditchers, so not quite the anticipated effect the French mayor had hoped for. However, it is still early days and has possibly started a slow sea change in opinion; the acceptance of the bike as a popular, even trendy, method of getting from A to B in a cosmopolitan and busy city. Could the UK be next to follow?

Spring Time in Manchester

I took this out on a walk yesterday and yes, I think spring is here …birds are twittering and things are growing again.

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Vertical Gardens

I am intrigued by the work created by Patrick Blanc a french botanist and artist. We know all too well the huge need for green spaces especially in urban environments, he has a fantastic solution – Vertical Gardens www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com
Patrick Blanc Garden, Paris, France

He is based in Paris, certainly a city with many beautiful squares and buildings, but it is a geographical area with little room for expansion. There is very little opportunity for the creation of new open spaces or parks when demand for housing is so huge. However, where there is a blank building wall he sees an opportunity. He fixes a solid frame onto the wall and, by allowing water to trickle down, it provides soil-free habitats for various plants which in turn can provide a home for all manner of lifeforms from birds to frogs. The Garden can be inside or out and plant species are chosen to suit the climatic conditions.

Mr Blanc began his botanical experiments in his own home and now he works on commissions all over the world with projects ongoing in China, Spain and his native France. His first UK commissions are Leamouth Peninsula a docklands regeneration scheme ongoing in 2008 and the Pacha Club, Kings Cross, London. Due to the density of the growth there is no need for weeding, so over time they develop from a two dimensional design to a 3D living work of art and each project is protected by copyright. He has a book “The Vertical Garden: In Nature and the City”
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Postcript to this article.  Click here for latest news on the Pacha Club, London commission.
UPDATE.  In the UK there is a Gardeners World Special featuring an interview with Patrick Blanc and discussion of his work.  Date for broadcast is 8pm on Friday 20th March 2009.  I’ve done a quick update post here.
UPDATE.  Short feature and images @ Wired.com regarding PB’s recent vertical garden at the Athenaeum, London.  24 August 2009