“If they’d asked me, I’d have piped it to the raingardens”
Kevin Barton, Robert Bray Associates
That was the advice of the contractor at a community raingarden complex currently under construction in East London whilst I was admiring their handiwork in constructing our channels and shallow pavement bridges.
Whilst it would have been cheaper (and far simpler for the contractor) to pipe the rainwater to the four themed raingarden basins, most of the magic would have been lost.
As it is, the channels remind me of the countless hours playing on beaches channelling water flows to fill moats or lakes for my toy yacht and forming bridges over them with driftwood. On this project, when it rains, the landscape will come alive with water flowing along sett channels, under paths, through planted channels and into raingardens filled with beautiful flowering plants, nature areas, balancing beams, stepping stones and even a food growing area.
As important as the appearance and entertainment though is the fact that these features make the system legible – easy to read and understand by residents and visitors, allowing them to follow the flow from rainwater pipe to raingarden – and just as easy to maintain. Also, the basins would have to be deeper to accommodate the pipe inverts – as it is we have kept the flow at the surface as much as possible.
So yes, we could have proposed pipes, but where would be the fun in that?!