To the naked eye the Helix site is a hive of construction activity. The Biosphere is nearing completion, the Learning & Teaching Centre and the National Innovation Centres building are both well underway, and ground has been broken for The Lumen.
In amongst the building works is a long, thin green oasis tucked behind the Urban Sciences Building. It is, however, much more than a simple piece of landscaping. It is one example of the experimental and research aspects of Newcastle Helix as a 'living laboratory.'
The National Green Infrastructure Facility is demonstrating the value of Sustainable Drainage Systems and Green Infrastructure to urban development.
Observations and findings from the facility will influence how our cities prepare for extreme weather events, an expected impact of climate change.
The National Green Infrastructure Facility is interlinked with the national network of Urban Observatories across the country. Led by Newcastle University, the network is part of UKCRIC - the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities. Big data analytics provided by the Urban Observatory, the largest open urban sensor network in the world, is enabling the National Green Infrastructure Facility to develop unprecedented understanding of urban hydrological processes at a range of scales.
Its co-location with other types of urban infrastructure experiments and facilities such as the Urban Sciences Building and the Urban Observatory will enable better delivery of integrated solutions for cities.
The National Green Infrastructure Facility is a great example of what makes Helix unique: hundreds of researchers, businesses and progressive homeowners living and working side-by-side in a place that's unlike anything else.