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How Green Could Our Cities Be?

by Simon Rogers

A new campaign by the government's city advisers to persuade local authorities to green their cities has produced some unique images of England's urban areas.


You may never have seen Liverpool or Hackney look exactly like this. Instead of houses, there are gardens; instead of roads, there are parks.

The images – produced for the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe) – show what happens when everything made of concrete, brick and tarmac is removed from an urban environment.

Published today, the not-to-scale aerial shots of Liverpool, Gloucester and the inner London boroughs of Hackney and Islington have been hand-coloured to show only their green infrastructure – gardens, parks and waterways. It is part of a campaign by Cabe as the government's advisers on urban design to persuade local authorities to focus more investment on green space.

"Normal maps encourage us to think of our cities as made of concrete and tarmac with some green punctuation," said Cabe's Matthew Bell. "We made these images to show another way of understanding the places where we live." Cabe argues that switching public spending to schemes such as trees, parks, green roofs and waterways would address climate change more effectively, improve public health and improve communities.

It says the £1.28bn budget for widening a 63-mile section of the M25 could pay for 3.2m trees or 5,000 miles of off-road routes for cyclists and pedestrians.

Bell said the maps showed "an abundance of green", but the Cabe report warns there is a chronic shortage of people in local authorities with the right skills to design and manage green infrastructure. As a result, said Bell, "we won't create healthier places adapted to climate change".

This piece originally appeared on The Guardian's Data Blog

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Great project idea. I think it is possible to transform our cities. However, unlike this grand scale study, perhaps it is more sustainable to work on a smaller scale. As neighborhood by neighborhood change, the city will change as a whole.

Posted by: Theodore on 14 Nov 09

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