By one definition, this describes a design strategy aimed at reconnecting urban residents and workers with the living natural environment.
Biophilia is the term popularized by Harvard University myrmecologist (the study of ants!) and conservationist E.O. Wilson over the past quarter century to measure the extensive way humans are hard-wired to need connection with nature and other forms of life.
Today, the greening of the urban environment is recognised as a major contributor to regeneration schemes improving the sustainability ratings of towns and cities. Support for the practice of biophilic design is growing. The benefits of regenerated, green and pleasant urban environments have reversed the downward shabby post-industrial spiral. The rising expectation of residents and workers for the ambience of natural surroundings has produced a virtuous circle.
From being somewhat of a Cinderella discipline, town planning has achieved little dreamed of prominence in advancing the claims of towns and cities seeking inward investment and bustling prosperity. Since the turn of the century parks and public gardens neglected for most of the 20th century have seen major restorations and upgrades. In many instances a lost prosperity has returned to neglected parts of town.
Along the way, revival of civic pride and the demand for the greening of the built environment exposed the need for a revolution in landscaping technology.
Since September 1843 The Economist has carried its mission statement every week on its Contents page; to take part in “a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.”
Landscape professionals, to their great credit, have enthusiastically embraced ‘intelligence’! To some extent ‘sustainability’ issues have forced the pace but, with accumulating evidence of overall benefit and cost efficiency, the luddite supporters of orthodox traditional methods and materials are in full retreat.
Taking landscape edgings as an example, the use of great baulks of precious timber is ecological madness and grossly politically incorrect – and they have a finite, and easily damaged, useful life. Everyone involved in the industry is painfully aware of the multiple drawbacks of concrete kerbing – breakable, non-recyclable, time consuming installation including wet trades, grass die-back over haunching – what is there to like about it? And their flexibility? – tell me about it!
Because it was very cheap, plastic had a short run as a substitute but in practice was only suitable for the neat back gardens of suburban bungalows! If it got chewed by the lawn mower it could probably be replaced even if the replacement was a different colour and a non-matching profile.
The ExcelEdge range, the culmination of years of research and development by Kinley Systems Ltd, has secured for recycled and recyclable aluminium its recognised pre-eminence on so many criteria.
Let’s start with the aesthetic advantages. Discreet, almost invisible separation between differing surfaces. That’s any two surfaces or differing colours of the same material. Manually flexible to achieve imaginative curves, circles and gradients. Elimination of haunching and consequent grass die-back. Uniquely attractive spaces easily created.
Then the installation benefits. No haunching, so no wet-trades, construction times reduced by 75%, breakage and damage rates reduced by up to 90%, edgings and top surfaces laid simultaneously and instantly usable. The light weight of ExcelEdge packs makes mechanical handling unnecessary and reduces risk of injury to personnel.
Maintenance? Not quite eliminated, but very nearly! With grass/tarmac interfaces the flush edgings enable uninterrupted mowing operations. Damage from vehicles crossing the interface is hardly a measurable risk.
So, no contest then? Well, there’s this cost awareness business and the severe contest The Economist talks about. It is highly probable that there will always be shysters whose idea of cost is limited to the list-price per linear metre. Some developers may also blinker their vision because they expect to sell the completed construct with little thought about ensuring an enduring brand legacy for their business. Finally, you have those for whom that enduring brand legacy is ‘intelligence, which presses forward.’
If you’ve read this far, we reckon you must be pretty intelligent and more than capable of recognising the added value evident in whole life cost analysis. Apart from the shyster, specifiers generally are aware of the cost effectiveness of metal landscape edgings. .
Demand has driven innovative companies like Kinley to assiduously continue programmes of research and development. The range of ExcelEdge metal, and especially aluminium, edgings now extends to provide solutions to meet every challenge. The many profile sizes, in flexible or rigid format are supplemented by bespoke fabrications and specialist applications such as the new extra strong extruded RoofEdge Premium and the prestige HiGrade steel edgings.
For Kinley, the acceptance of ExcelEdge as an industry benchmark has brought opportunities to develop imaginative solutions to the challenges presented by other outdoor living spaces. Sustainable PEFC certified wood composite decking for terrace and green roof applications, as with metal edgings, has both practical and whole life cost benefits. Porcelain tiling opens up seamless indoor/outdoor living space transition possibilities. Sustainable, innovative, easily installed and stable Raaft decking sub-structures convert wish-list terraces into attractive reality, however tricky the location. CorTen or powder coated planters, bespoke or off the shelf, bring the biophilic promise to life and make Kinley Systems the default source for all its components.