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  • Samantha Hamilton

Urban Green Spaces: Vital for communities, potentially challenging R&D for architects

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a wide-scale reassessment of priorities in many peoples’ lives. In particular, the successive “lockdowns” and isolation from wider distance travel, forcing people to stay at home, has and will continue to have lasting effects on both professional and personal lives. While it is well known that Covid caused a sharp rise in the numbers of workers operating out of home offices, it also caused a surge in hobby adoption, including 7 million new gardeners. Millions of people also moved from urban centres into greener rural settings (facilitated by the shift from cubicles to home offices), which has demonstrated the significance of green spaces for human fulfilment.


This presents something of an ultimatum for the planning and construction of sustainable cities and urban accommodation: without accessible green spaces, people will leave in search of them. These can even be quite small alterations, ivy-clad walls and pocket gardens, that are relatively easy to maintain but still represent a boon to mental health. They may also act as carbon sinks and could develop into more extensive community projects in the future, by expanding allotments and vegetable patches, which improve both sustainability and the cohesion of a community in an increasingly atomised time. Even beyond the truly urban landscape, this approach to gardens could increase community engagement in suburbia, helping to ensure a future in which the isolation of recent years can decline.


The need to incorporate more green spaces directly into urban accommodation, either in renovation or new constructions, has existing solutions, but these still require reconsiderations of design, including the load capacity of the superstructure. Small green spaces such as pocket gardens can still present significant uncertainty to an architect, particularly in their incorporation into a structure that may not have originally been designed to house plant life. Plants require sunlight, so architects will have to consider the geography of the building relative to the movements of the sun. Consideration must also be given to ease of maintenance for these green spaces to ensure they last as long as the buildings that house them. Therefore, the work by architects to include these green spaces will likely be eligible to qualify for R&D tax credits. With the demand for their inclusion and potential governmental support even for private projects, it seems a natural next step.


Many architects and associated engineers (e.g. structural engineers) may not be aware that they qualify for R&D tax credits, and any potential for innovation is worth exploring.


If you, or anyone you know, want to discuss our R&D tax and/or R&D grants services in more detail, please contact us via or 0141 378 4969!  

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