MUDLARKING: Restoring Riparian Corridors to The City
The pandemic has obliged us to leverage the convenience of our spaces to reappropriate time towards wellness, connections with nature, equitable access to public amenities, and family and social connections. Our cities will need to change to meet increasing demands for health and resilience locally.
Rivers are resilient natural systems. They can be channeled and culverted for convenience, but the forces that created them will continue to feed living underground streams. This integrated mixture of proposals capitalizes on the vitality of ancient water systems to create resilient urban environments, comprised of diverse living systems. These river daylighting interventions replenish the Square Mile with the restoration of key segments of historic London rivers, forming regenerative eco-systems within the historic fabric of the City of London.
The River Walbrook was the lifeblood of the 8th century, Anglo-Saxon walled city, Lundenburh. It ran through the center of the town before flowing into the Thames. Currently ‘lost’ to storm sewer vaults beneath the streets and buildings of Central London, this river, and the nearby River Fleet, offer opportunities for the city to reconnect with nature and adapt to evolving urban life. In response to increasing extreme weather, new green spaces are located at flood risk areas, as part of a resilient water retention strategy. These riparian environments reestablish the cyclic patterns of local ecosystems, providing indigenous plant and animal species with the habitat they need to thrive. Our intent is to propagate these linear green interventions throughout The City, weaving pedestrian circulation and vegetated space through a bigger system of water collection and slow percolation. The outdoor spaces associated with these systems create places for work, culture, play, respite, and education.
The improved evapotranspiration conditions associated with the introduction of surface water and the greening of London, reduce air pollution and lower air temperature. Walking around The City is healthier, cleaner, and more marvelous. Street excavation and greening enhances the pedestrian experience and highlights natural networks, linking new green spaces, existing urban amenities, and the Thames. Small and large connections down to the hidden Rivers Walbrook and Fleet combine to create a collage of interventions which reorganize Central London circulation around a network of green, resilient, and healthy spaces that support the continued vitality of The City.