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Covering nature in netting shows our detachment from the natural world

Emily Booth
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In the rush to build, let’s not lose our sense of connection with local communities and the environment, writes Emily Booth

It’s spring! – the real one, not that seriously odd February hot spell – and, among the blossom and the burgeoning hedgerows, you might have been unlucky enough to see nature’s new greenery covered in netting. It’s an image that’s hard to get out of your mind – wrapped trees with ghostly blurred outlines. Sometimes the netting is itself green, the better to blend in with the real thing, I suppose. 

There are, apparently, various sound and logical reasons for netting (eg to stop birds nesting before removal of trees on building sites) and, of course, it’s all perfectly legal.

But the deep-seated feeling that it’s deeply wrong won’t go away. That netting suggests just how disconnected we are becoming from our natural world. Though the instinctive outrage we feel about it shows we haven’t lost all our capacity for a connection with a world beyond our immediate needs.

Power and expediency can often win out at the expense of community and environment 

To be connected increasingly requires conscious effort – and it is crucial for architects, who need to design the homes and spaces that people need, but who also need to think about how these changes can be best integrated and most sensitively managed.

To be connected with the people you are building for and with – without breaking links with the environment and local communities – is so important. It’s often easier on smaller projects: those light-touch, small-scale gems where architecture can be at its simplest and best, and where client and architect can work closely and effectively together. The bigger the project, the harder it can be to keep those myriad connections strong – and the more support, the stronger the will and the greater the innovation required. But all building requires change, and power and expediency can often win out at the expense of community and environment.

There is such a sense of disconnectedness and disjointedness just now: between in and out voters, between rich and poor, between them and us. Resist it. Make connections. Keep connecting.

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