Greta on Green Spaces

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Next up to take the Instagram reigns this February was our lovely Greta, who provided us with another insight into all things edge!

Passion for nature

My background is Landscape Architecture, which I studied in my home country of Lithuania. My passion for nature, sustainable living and green space design started at a very young age when I had my own little flower garden at my childhood home. When I grew up this then progressed to designing and planning my parents’ garden at their new home, as well as the surrounding area.

After graduating in Lithuania, I moved to the UK, where I discovered (by accident!) the Master’s degree course in Urban Design at Oxford Brookes University. I have to admit, at that time I didn’t know the discipline of Urban Design even existed, but finding the course, studying Urban Design and meeting Hannah and Sarah, who have been an inspiration to me from the very start of my professional career, was SO meant to be.

To me, Urban Design is the challenge of creating places that will be used and enjoyed by a wide range of different people for different purposes.

If there is a forest, there is a house

On the 16th of February, my home country of Lithuania celebrates Independence Day, which marks the act of independence from Germany in 1918. The holiday is celebrated with an amazing festive spirit, and sees the whole country festooned in the national colours of yellow, green and red.

It only seemed right to mark this memorable occasion with some beautiful examples of the country’s traditional and very distinctive wooden architecture, which gives Lithuania its unique architectural personality. ⠀

If there is a forest, there is a house. Lithuanians have followed this rule for centuries, and wood has always been one of the main construction materials. Time, wars, fires and modern life have destroyed many of Lithuania’s architectural masterpieces but some of them still stand today, representing the country’s unique identity. Referred to as a cheap, ‘progress hindering’ material during the Soviet period, today wood is once again featuring in modern Lithuanian architecture, creating cosy, healthy and sustainable environments. Some of the country’s most beautiful examples of traditional wooden architecture, and even entire villages, are now carefully protected.

Designing for people

From a very young age I have always been interested in nature and green spaces, so during my time at University I spent a lot of time learning about their importance when it comes to designing for people, communities and cities. I always try to make sure that my work focuses on bringing nature and biodiversity into urban space design wherever possible, because it’s so important not only for people but it’s also vital for wildlife.⠀

Pop-up urban parks (PUPs), or ‘temporary green spaces,’ are one of those unique ideas that I love, which bring people joy and excitement, benefitting their wellbeing, enhancing biodiversity and bringing nature back into cities – and who doesn’t like to be surprised by the unexpected – especially when walking through a big city? Pop-up parks are usually installed on public streets to transform grey spaces into something more exciting and enjoyable and are a great way to encourage locals and visitors to come together. More importantly they help to reduce traffic, increase public life and create places for people – not cars, something I’m particularly passionate about.

Pasaka

I believe in finding positivity in everything you face in your life. One of the positive things about the current lockdown and being stuck at home is that you suddenly have so much time to think about your life – your past and the future. I’ve found myself feeling nostalgic and thinking a lot about my university days in Lithuania, when I started studying Landscape Architecture and finding my path not knowing what the future had in store. I’ve also spent the time going through my old projects, and revisiting some of my earlier work.

I love designs that have meaning and can tell a story. My final year project for Kindergarten Environment Management, was entitled ‘PASAKA’, and was inspired by Alice in Wonderland. I used popular, magical themes from the well-known fairy-tale and incorporated them into the design of the play areas, social zones and other open spaces. I also asked children to draw what they would like to see in their kindergarten environment and the drawings they produced helped me to decide what elements were the most important when it came to their space. They also helped influence the colour palette of the final design.

Beautiful Palanga

I love and admire towns and cities that have a unique design, as well as offering a variety of experiences, activities and exciting places to explore – both as a local and as a visitor. In my opinion, my hometown of Palanga is exactly that kind of place. It’s vibrant and exciting with a lot to offer – and a good example of great urban design, where a combination of traditional and contemporary architecture work together in harmony.

The town is full of vibrant and attractive outdoor spaces with beautiful landscaping and lighting. Palanga is also the busiest summer resort in Lithuania, attracting tourists who come to enjoy the sandy beaches and vibrant atmosphere. There are plenty of bars and cafés on the beach to enjoy during the day that come night-time, transform into a place for people to gather and enjoy the evening looking out over the sea. The town is also full of small parks and squares, as well as a large botanical garden with a palace and museum tucked away inside.

Palanga encourages connectivity through walking and cycling, with picturesque footpaths and cycle trails weaving their way through woodland and alongside the beach leading straight into the town. Recently the town’s main street has been transformed into a two-way cycle route, with only one side of the road left for cars. This initiative has been really successful and helped to promote more sustainable transport methods in the town as well as reducing traffic.

Written by Greta