Absolute must reads for park and urban design!

The Social life of small Urban Places

The Movie

The film quality of the movie at the start is rather poor, but stick with it, as it’s about the content.

Made in 1980 so some amusement can be gained from the conservative fashion, but the main point is the simplicity of how humans react in public space and what makes a space successful or not.
Note; at the end of the film recommendations are made to the New York City planning control. The effects can been seen today, think of how many areas have movable chairs and how the atmosphere of the city has changed from many complete no go areas, to a city that now feels much safer, at ease and sittable!

“The present issue (as with all popular cities) is ‘gentrification’ when regeneration arrives”

The present issue (as with all popular cities) is gentrification, the meat-packing district has been changed by the High Line Park which is great, but the lower paid workers who service the area are being pushed out by unregulated high rents, all cause and effect. So what ever we do as designers/planners we have to always look to the bigger picture, build a frame-work for flexibility so area can evolve without expensive re-builds and social cleansing.

High Line: A Quick Overview from Grant Beerling on Vimeo.

“I so love this little film, Holly Whyte’s voice reminds me of my wise grandparents, thoughtful, never rushing a sentence, understanding the power of a pause and the simple profound observations of the world around them.”


Some Books,Absolutely must be on your shelf

The Social life of small Urban Places

Author William H Whyte


A good review blog of the book. An essential for anyone who wants to understand Why some one would possibly want to visit and stay in your local park….Ignore this book at your peril. Based most of my final degree design on his proven observations

“A park without people is a field”


The Wit and Wisdom of Holly Whyte 

Gathered by Albert LaFarge 

Continue reading

Thats All Folks!!!

A quick note

I will not be adding to this blog for a while as it will clog it up for those present 3 rd years BA’s (good luck to all) who maybe having a look around to see were we got up to in the storm that is the last 5 months of the Degree.

If any of you are the slightest bit interested here is a link to my final work that was pinned up (spelling mistakes and all).


Also continuing (must be raving mad) to study on the MA see ‘Felix in a Hat’ on the side. Sequential’s are slowly improving, determined not to lose that touch that so many before me seem to lose from graduation to finishing the MA. Time will tell.

Any questions etc, feel free to ask, just put a comment on this post. And remember ‘it ain’t over till the …… guy sings’ (bless him, you won’t find a better teacher).

Trees in photoshop

Photoshop CS5 Tutorial.

Ok it was late and thus a bit monotone, and a few errors for you to spot!

The idea is to show you how to create a simple tree from above with shadow. Its a starter for you guys to build upon so the detail is basic for that reason. A foundation if you like.

It took a long time to work it all out so it has some value to me (at least). So i will share it with Greenwich Students LA and Garden Design, to give you guys something to work with. Really appreciate if you don’t publish this video, download it by all means as it won’t be up forever.

 Come back for updates.

Original Vid below.(Update May 2014)

Photoshop CS5 Graphic Trees from Grant Beerling on Vimeo.

Boys Stuff

If it has an Engine

Thats it really, love looking at any old vehicle, everything has been designed by somebody and thus its quite fun trying to work out their inspiration.

Robby the Robot

If robby drove or built a tractor (and as we all know Robby could build any thing, especially good at Whisky as the story goes, ‘Forbidden Planet’) i suspect it would look like this.

Kent Show 2011

Hadlow Show Garden

I went along to see the Show Garden that my good friend Whitney designed for Hadlow College.

Outstanding design and followed the brief to perfection. A ‘Top Gold’ (read best in show) was awarded, and rightly so….

So why was it so good? 

Well these are just my humble observations

1) Balance, the ratio between soft/hard/water and the building was perfect

2) No Full stops, meaning that the viewer tended to look at the whole picture rather than just hot spots of design. Thus leading them in to explore further and notice the detail.

3) Journeys, plenty of them each leading to a destination, very hard to do in a small space.

4) Space, or the use of in the sense that the seating tended to be in the furthest corner thus back to the wall and more impression of space.

5) Tones, of the planting flowed interspersed with neutral whites to lift the strong orange/burnt yellows out.

6) Humour and idea’s, well we are British and we love a quirky idea.

Design and Whits blog

A few photo’s

As usual got a bit involved trying to do the art picture and forgot to take any overall pictures, hopefully Whit will put some up on her blog about the process of the site

Well done Whitney!


A small update on a Garden (alas no funds to do the lot)

Always difficult matching your own work with other, in this case a builders ‘attempt’ and some DIY, so tried to match and improve, but with one eye on the future ie more updates so a bit of a balancing act.

Materials and issues

Every space throws up issues, in this case small, all grass removed, gradient falling towards the house, sleepers everywhere.

The main solution was to provide a new soak away (new crate system wrapped in geotextile felt). Volume .5m cubed (100m2 =1m cubed for well drained soils) for 25m2 area. Slit gully for ascetics, with an adapted ‘p’ trap gully to trap any fines and access for cleaning. All falls 1-80/100. Normal type one compacted/6 to 1 sharp sand mix for slabs, pointed with buff resin system (which if you pay for the proper German stuff is brilliant and quick, sorry Jamie i disagree with you on this one, now i’ll go and dive for cover).


Worked on yellow and ochre as colours to reflect the colours of the slabs plus to give a warm feel to the whole area. Worked with perennials for the best display albeit for the summer only, a case of a good display for the height of the outdoor season or compromise with spots of colour through out the year… no brainer as far as i am concerned in this situation.
Contrasting shapes with and narrow colour range to keep the effect.

Who are the ‘Green Engineers’?

That is the Question.

Two days of green engineering and i thought i would be ready to go back to my Neanderthal ways, being a cynic, unless its proven in my mind (in my few years on the planet i have seen  a lot trends promoted and used for ill gain, so its always good to question and not just accept because ‘billy big bollocks ‘ says so) then its hot air blather which is no use for beast or man.

But i can so see the logic in proceeding down this route, not the sandals and sack cloth,but the high and low tech solutions to everyday needs, in particular, waste.
As in not wasting resources moving products around the planet, saving and reusing local resources first before going further a field. Lastly, efficient buildings whose creation is mainly due to the landscape, not the other way round. 

The idea that LA’s are ‘engineers’ from our lesson on SUDS was an inspiration. I knew a bit about swales and suds (or at least i thought i did) but never joined the dots. A really fantastic lesson. The fact that this was backed up with evidence and the interest from Governments from around the world proved even more that what we are now entering is an age of proactive green policy rather than chest beating ‘i don’t own a car and am a vegan’ macho talk.

So ‘if’ i and the rest of us make it, then we have a duty to not to be shrinking violets, otherwise the holistic big picture of building as part of the landscape will be lost amongst the desire for engineered infrastructure that engineers love so much. Forgetting the impact on the world, rather than the often the simple solutions of using what the landscape has used for millions of years. Very inspired even if we did not make it to China!

Taking green technology to the limit, The new hospital (completion 2014) in Bermuda

A lot of thinking and re-evaluating to be done.

Can’t see the wood for the Tree’s

Focussed on the point.

A bizarre saying, never really understood it for years, but at the moment its crystal clear and i am sure for most of us it has a chime of truth. 
Looking at your own work for hours/days/months, doubt creeps in until you have no idea whether its good, inspirational and ground breaking or tired, predictable and safe.
Then the trap of adding more ‘stuff’ and losing the less is more simplicity ,which we all know is so hard to achieve. It comes back to the would i like to spend a day in the Park? As an 8 year old or 70?

This so has to become a ‘place’ again. It must become a point of reference to what a park could and should be the local and wider community. Otherwise leave it as it is and spend the money else were, were it would be beneficial.

Enough rambling,


Sunday Morning, this is were i am at

1:200 plan. Updated and tightened the annotation. Added trees to correspond to planting plan. Lightened the South bank. Cross section markers. Reduced the size of the scale bar. I am sure i have missed stuff

Boy, did i spend some time on this little puppy. There can never be enough information for a contractor. So site visits would still have to happen though the idea of leaving a drawing that the informed contractor could refer to and not be phoning up every five minutes is the challenge.

Flattened the textures for the different materials to reduce any confusion. Though i am sure a specification book could go with each drawing, as i seem to have a lot of questions for the designer, oh shit thats me!
I can easily see how a year of designing as a team with hundreds of drawings and specification documents could easily happen , and then have a major F/Up
because somebody has missed the ‘bleedin obvious’!

Sunday have loads to still do, given up on getting the model done, but you never know!!!

Dark Satanic Mills

Ozzy the Victorian Man

While i was designing some Victorian/Gothic style fencing, had some music on for a change (tend to work in silence as the old grey matter tends to ‘get in the groove’ alas the wrong groove).
Itunes Genius playlist, What could better than a bit of Black Sabbath playing a delightful tune from their ever popular long player ‘Master of Reality’ called ‘Into the Void’ a real throat slitter, perfect for a Gothic Fence design.
A quick sketch of the front entrance

Gothic Arch theme. The slits and holes for a bit of decoration

A bit more ‘Adams Family’ with diamond shapes.

All out of Oak,it will cost a fortune but last 40+years without any treatment, the beauty of hard wood.
All made at Hever Saw Mills , hopefully.