Caroline Hertzman on designing the green environments of the future

Public space has become a bigger part of people's everyday lives, used for social gatherings, birthday celebrations, walk-and-talk meetings and even as office space. A development that took off during the pandemic, and which landscape architect Caroline Hertzman believes will continue.

How should you as landscape architects think when designing the green environments of the future?

- It is extremely important that we take into account the increased use of public spaces and green areas in future urban planning. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw the importance of public parks and green spaces in the city. Parks where many people can spend time and still keep their distance. Public space has become a bigger part of people's everyday lives and is used for social gatherings, birthday celebrations, walk-and-talk meetings, and even as office space. In the future, I think this is something that will grow. In a time of isolation, we found other ways to socialize and this is something I think we will continue to use. Awareness of the importance of the designed living environment for health and well-being has also increased.

- Apartment buildings are being built higher and more densely, while residential courtyards are shrinking. This makes it important to plan for coherent green spaces in the local area. The denser the city, the greater the demands on the design of the spaces in between. This is partly for people's well-being and stress management, and partly because of the increasingly hardened city, which is finding it difficult to cope with the pressure of climate change. In some new neighborhoods in Malmö, we see how the street space has been used for larger plantings that contribute to a more designed and interesting street environment while taking into account climate change and biodiversity.

If you are particularly passionate about natural green spaces in the city, tell us more!

- Not everything should be fixed in the city! It is important that there are also more natural green areas. Areas that are suitable for children to build huts and explore. That provide natural protection for wildlife and facilitate the survival of biodiversity. It is therefore important to preserve existing groves and woodlands in new urban areas. Newly created parks and green spaces are obvious but also require a lot of management. By preserving already grown "natural" parts, the green area grows, becomes more varied and interesting while the operating costs are lower in the already grown and wilder parts. Let nature take its course.

How do you see the impact of climate change on design?

- Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and here we as landscape architects can really make a difference. It is important to include in urban planning areas that can handle, for example, cloudbursts and rain. I also think it's important to focus on and integrate ecosystem services in the designed environment, such as delaying stormwater through planting in the street. We must protect our nature and our heritage. From an environmental perspective, it is obviously important to work with sustainable materials and not to think short-term. Materials should last a long time and withstand heavy wear and tear from users. Most people aspire to a living city, and the city must be able to cope with life.