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    Marshalls - Cities of the Future

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    Marshalls - Cities of the Future

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    Marshalls - Cities of the Future

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    Marshalls - Cities of the Future


Painting the UK’s cities green

Georgina Johnston
27 Dec 2019

Sustainability is a priority on the agenda for the UK housing market

The UK housing market is looking to prioritise a greener future, according to new research by leading hard landscaping manufacturer Marshalls. The research asked 2,000 UK residents on how much value they placed on eco-friendly features such as sustainable materials, water conservation and solar panels when looking for a new home. It was reported that 68% of UK residents would ensure a property had eco-friendly features before making a decision on it, and that 62% of respondents felt that business and building owners should foot the bill for eco-friendly changes to city center buildings. Images envision how the major UK cities could embrace a greener future through Vertical Forests, Biomimicry, Forest Cities and Roof Gardens.

The majority of respondents (56%) claimed they would always consider the environmental impact of a property when looking for a new home, whilst a further 12% revealed they would not even consider a property that didn’t have some level of environmentally friendly features.

Of those who place the environmental impact of their homes as a high priority, over half (56%) would also be willing to pay additional costs to ensure it was as sustainable as possible.

In terms of the value of this overspend, on average, those willing to pay more would spend an extra 10% for a property to make sure that it wasn’t detrimental to the environment, compared with a property that did not contain sustainability features.

This level of environmental responsibility doesn’t just stop with homes however, with respondents also stating their belief that it should be business owners and building owners who foot the bill to ensure our city centres are as environmentally friendly as possible through features such as vertical forests, biomimicry and roof gardens.

Whilst many of the UK’s cities and towns have already pledged to improve their natural environment by implementing a more urbanized forest atmosphere, the research shows 62% of Brits believe that any further developments in this field should be funded from private building owners, rather than councils or the government.

Taking inspiration from the 2019 Future Spaces research into the emerging themes that could change the nature of our built environment, Marshalls have envisioned how four major UK cities could possibly look if they embraced the ideas of biophilic design and urban greenery. 

The images demonstrate what biophilic theorists call 'wildness' - the presence of the unkempt amongst the order of the city: the transformative 'sensory shock' of seeing 'the wildness of nature bursting through the cracks of the urban' by integrating green infrastructure into the design and planning process.

Biophilic cities meet residents' innate desire to connect with nature by providing opportunities to 'enjoy the multisensory aspects of nature' by protecting and promoting its presence within the city.


With the potential to be known as a “forest city”, the improvement to Glasgow’s overall look would be striking. With walkways, bridges and paths littered with trees and shrubbery, Glaswegians could expect to feel immersed in nature from the moment they leave home, to the moment they return from work. With the adoption of biomimicry architecture to mimic natural forms, there would also be a number of striking new buildings across the Scottish city’s skyline.


Londoners could be surrounded by trees and shrubs, as they grow on the facades of existing buildings helping to capture the carbon dioxide as well as producing oxygen. Not only would this bring colour and vibrance to its many main shopping areas and quirky side streets, it would also help to counteract the gasses emitted from the many cars, busses and motorcycles that grace London’s streets daily.


For Birmingham, the second city could be seen to be the new “capital of vertical forests”; thanks to the cities towering residential blocks and distinct lack of land availability, the introduction of greener measures would see these blocks covered with trees and cascading shrubs to cover the current facades.


By embracing biomimicry architecture, the new addition of a spiraled building, designed to mimic the flow and natural forms of nature, adorned with plants and trees to truly emulate the power and fluidity of all things natural, will make an impressive addition to the Leeds skyline.

These impressive structures would be set to capture the carbon dioxide and work to produce oxygen. Not only could they counteract pollution, but they could improve the overall wellbeing and health of residents and visitors, too. 

It is encouraging to see so many people prioritising eco friendly features in the decision-making process when looking for a new property. It can sometimes be a daunting experience to include additional features into a project, however the study shows that there is a clear desire in the market to see more properties embrace these features. The industry is already embracing this trend and we have seen strong growth is environmental and ethical products such as low-carbon permeable paving and high ethical standards. However, there is always more that can be done by embracing the ideologies of Biomimicry and Urban Greening to help the UK move forward into a future of sustainable urban environments.

Chris Harrop, Director of Sustainability and Marketing at Marshalls

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