Architecture that promotes biodiversity

By Paul

This year, biodiversity has climbed developers’ list of priorities. Although the government has delayed biodiversity net gain legislation again, from February those creating large schemes will have to provide a biodiversity net gain of at least 10%. For smaller developments – ten homes or fewer – the new rule will apply from April 2024.

This is a great move from a natural habitat point of view. By including measures to boost biodiversity, architects and developers will create much more appealing places to live while protecting wildlife. Residents will feel better connected to the natural world around them.

At TAS Architects, we’ve always considered how our projects can boost biodiversity. Our projects are all designed to work within the existing landscape. The earlier that measures to boost biodiversity net gain can be factored into a project, the better.

The following are a few measures we’ve introduced in our projects.

Wildlife boxes and holes

At our RIBA award-winning project Manor Ridge Barns we introduced barn owl and bat boxes. These mitigate any loss from conversion of the derelict roofs. One building has an entire bat loft above the ceiling line.

We also experimented by creating integrated owl boxes in the walls of one of our low energy timber frame houses in Hertfordshire, which won the award for Sustainability at the Hertfordshire Architecture Awards in 2021. While it remains a challenge to persuade the barn owl to adopt a box as their new home, they have become a lovely home for some other families of nesting birds. Our team has been looking into using swift bricks, which are both cost effective and easy to install.

Building houses for wildlife

TAS Architects is working on a scheme of nine new homes that will explore how dwellings can become new homes to species other than their human inhabitants. This includes investigating buglife-approved wildflower-intensive green roofs.

Chimneys, which have no use in a new-building home today, could become biodiversity stacks – providing homes for wildlife while reflecting the architecture of the village. Bee bricks or hexagonal bee habitat tiles can be strategically placed in south-facing facades.

Natural planting

When we design a project, we include planting and landscaping that reflects the local environment. At our project Long Barn, which is close to completion, we have planted indigenous plants that will encourage wildlife.

The landscaping at Hidden House in Suffolk includes mixed grasses and an orchard, and we retained the mature trees. We have used biodiversity measures at other schemes such as a newt refuge that blends into the environment.

Natural flood risk mitigation

Drainage is more important than ever given the threat of climate change. We have investigated several techniques that help deal with excess water while improving the landscape for wildlife.

At Loxley Stables, we have introduced swales and a retention pond that fill up during periods of heavy rainfall. These not only mitigate any flooding risk but enhance the landscape around each dwelling.

Tags: Finished Projects, Design, Planning, Architectural process

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