|Genius design - combining stormwater and landscape (& using native plants!)|
Friday, May 22, 2015
Genius Design. Creating Smart Stormwater and Landscape Ecology.
Land is usually expensive in the urban core and that is why it is so important for the site designer to try and maximize buildable space while incorporating green space, stormwater and parking.
Historically the trend has been to specify the square or rectangular stormwater pond and the linear, parallel strips of landscape separately.
Really, the only reason I can think this practice was started was because many civil designers grew up playing with square Legos.
Or maybe neatly compartmentalized site design components on the blueprints were easier to get approved by the planning department.
People get into a mindset. Most do not like change. So once the square stormwater pond and parallel strips of landscape islands and no trees and lots of black asphalt became the norm, well... who were civil designers to rock the boat with natural complicated curves? After all, most schools teach - square stormwater pond plus parallel strips of landscape islands plus sprawl equals quick governmental approval for the project.
But occasionally I see a really successful genius design where the smart engineer foregoes the separate stormwater and landscape components. Instead they maximize space and create urban ecology by using natural curves and native plants integrated together into a sustainable and cost efficient functioning part of the site layout.
The above photo is an example of how to perfectly combine landscape buffer requirements with stormwater obligations and create a wonderful native fern living wall too!
Native wetland trees, cypress, Taxodium spp., were planted in a depression and act as visual barriers to the adjacent highway while also serving as stormwater siphons, transpiring several hundred gallons of water each day into the atmosphere - assisting in water attenuation and flood control.
Instead of a gaping, unsightly, litter filled stormwater pond that requires extra real estate, this designer has created vital urban ecology all the while satisfying stormwater and landscape requirements with the jurisdictional permitting agency.
I can hear the square designers howling now. Yes, I know that there are many factors in creating adequate stormwater facilities. But it just makes sense to maximize site density with respect to the environment, the community and the economy.
Think outside the box (square)!