By Catherine Shaw
Digital image by Luna Zeng
I'm currently studying horticulture and am interested in the philosophy of ecocentrism, which takes 'a more holistic approach to the world, giving value to species, ecosystems, or the earth as a whole'.
My idea focusses on the spaces between buildings. The unused gap in a row of townhouses, or a small overgrown brownfield site. The Bio-Skelter is intended to inject biodiversity into city neighbourhoods, helping them to meet clean air targets and bring communities together.
The design I imagined is based on the shape of a Helter-Skelter with a winding stair in place of the slide, providing access to all levels.
Top Level: The top level would be reserved for pollinators with minimal access to people. There would be bee hives, insect boxes and small bird boxes and the planting would include evergreen shrubs, which birds use for shelter, and bee-friendly flowers for collecting nectar.
Water butts and pipes would collect rainwater to re-use for the plants.
Mid Levels. These levels could be used for a mixture of plants. Depending on the location, drought-loving or shade-loving plants would be selected. It might also be suitable to cultivate some plants that are native to the local area from the endangered list, for conservation and education purposes.
Ground Level. At ground level the structure would be used to grow edibles. Fruit trees and shrubs could be trained to wrap around the structure. The local community would have access to this section, to grow, tend and harvest the crops. These could include fruit, berries, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers.
A still pond or water feature at ground level might also encourage water-loving insects and provide a place for aquatic plants and animals.
Funding for Bio-Skelters could come via the Public Private Partnership strategy, or become part of developer and contractor obligations under the Section 106 agreement with local authorities. Neighbourhoods might also look to take responsibility for their local Bio-Skelter under a co-operative agreement.