Natural Capital

The city is a landscape; its soils and geology define its fundamental character. Our work and interests stem from understanding time and territory, the geology and wider landscape patterns, the river catchment with propositions for water sensitive urban design, the urban forest with how liveable the city is and how resilient the urban dweller feels. Our work ranges from strategic planning to forensic analysis of the below-ground condition, considering the soil’s biological complexity and its capacity for yield and absorption. Collaborations enable our practice to reach widely into the marginal territories that inform our work; the poetry and science of soils; the sound of geology; the value of shared grass roots knowledge; the biomimetics of spider sheet webs. Our profession concerns that which makes land a landscape, the people who inhabit it and the resilience of the environment and the individual that together create city communities in all their density and diversity. We seek an archaeological narrative and creative ways of how to stimulate the stewardship of the city’s natural capital.

Johanna Gibbons, Interview (2015)

Johanna Gibbons & J+L Gibbons + Muf Architecture – Art, Dalston Eastern Curve Gardens (2009)


Rather than traditional

Working in collaboration with muf architecture/art and Objectif, Making Space in Dalston is a project concerning an alternative approach to regeneration. It evolved a process of communication and action research to help develop a shared vision with residents, businesses and local organizations.

The project looked at how more public space could be created without losing the existing qualities of the neighbourhood. A key concern was how to embrace change while nurturing the self-organising distinctiveness of Dalston that is inherent in both its social capital and physical character.

Rather than a traditional top-down master plan, the project set out to identify projects through dialogue from grassroots up. The stakeholders themselves became the driving force and promoters of change.

A total of 76 projects were identified in 10 themes, through discussion with almost 200 individuals or groups. Projects were either permanent or temporary. Some were termed ‘meantime’ projects in space awaiting development.

Johanna Gibbons, Making Space in Dalston (2012)

Here we have a little description of how to make a project getting rid of the concept of the unity of design: instead of having a one-concept transformation Gibbons purposes to scatter the action into many that will respond to little desires and wills so, instead of having a part of the users in favor and other against a big bet, we’ll have many elements that are more able to approach people’s desires and complex opinions. We’ll get a more adaptable result too, and an extra learning of the design process. All those benefits will come just living without the big discourse of unity in creation. This way to understand the creative process without the strength of the author’s assertion could have to do with what we are talking about when we speak about the necessary “feminist turn” in the discipline.

Johanna Gibbons + Muf Art/Architecture, Making Space in Dalston (2012)