Phoenix Project newsletter –  6th August 2021

Welcome to the latest edition of the Phoenix Project newsletter – a regular update of news and views from our Phoenix Project in Lewes, East Sussex. This newsletter is brought to you by Human Nature, a campaigning development company creating places that inspire and enable people to live great lives within the planet's limits. Sign up to future newsletters here.

In this edition:
Phoenix Project Design Festival 10-12th September

Over the past year we’ve been working on plans for a new walkable, renewably-powered, super-green neighbourhood on the former Phoenix industrial site in Lewes, East Sussex. These ideas will be presented in an exhibition in the Foundry Gallery at our Phoenix Project Design Festival 10-12th September. 
We’d love your feedback on this work in progress so we can enhance the plans and designs, blending local expertise with the experience of our professional team to make this a truly remarkable place for Lewes. Join us for an exhibition of work in progress plus talks, workshops and children’s activities.

Enjoy food and drink from local suppliers including
Beak Brewery – fast becoming one of the UK’s highest-rated craft breweries since launching in Lewes last year.
We’ll also have a great musical line-up, curated by the team behind the
Lewes Hilltop Sessions. Expect stars like Guy Chambers, local skiffle favourites The Magnificent Kevens, plus the bluesy funk and soul of Supernatural Things. There will also be a very special performance by young musicians from Lewes charity Starfish Youth Music.

Full programme details – including how to book into free talks and workshops, and buy tickets (required for some music sessions) will be posted on our
website in the coming weeks.

The Power of Doing: Preparing the Foundry Gallery

The Phoenix Project site has a long industrial and cultural heritage. As we work on plans for the neighbourhood’s next big chapter we want to keep as many buildings in action as possible.
The Foundry Gallery, which was built for Every’s Iron and Steel Works in the early nineteenth century and supplied the ironwork for Brighton Pier and Lewes Station, will be at the heart of the Phoenix Project Design Festival. In preparation, we’re clearing the space and installing exhibition boards that will introduce our plans and share Human Nature’s wider ethos. These will be made of Oriented Strand Board (OSB) – a sustainable alternative to plywood – and will be upcycled for use on the site after the festival. 

Image by Philip Volkers

Meet: Kathryn Firth, architect and urban designer

In each newsletter we introduce members of the Human Nature team and our network of architects, designers and specialists working on the Phoenix Project. In this edition meet Kathryn Firth, architect and urban designer at FPdesign; Kathryn has over 25 years’ international experience, including as Chief of Design at the London Legacy Development Corporation and teaching at The Bartlett, UCL and Harvard. 

What drew you to the Phoenix Project?
Jonathan Smales (Human Nature founder and CEO) has such passion for the project, it's hard not to want to be part of it! I’m excited by both the process and the ambition. On the former, Human Nature takes a very different approach to many developers. You often see others get one master-planner onboard who may also work out the designs for the buildings – very much one hand working on everything. But Human Nature work in a truly collaborative way. I believe that, at this scale, this process will create something better in the end – both in the ethos of the place and aesthetically. Bringing in different practices will make this feel more like a neighbourhood that's evolved over time.
“The most exciting aspect of the project is that Human Nature is really serious about making a place that's truly sustainable and is looking at innovative ways to do that. Everyone’s talking the talk about sustainability these days, but not many are actually putting the principles into practice. In this project sustainability is at the heart of everything from construction methodology through to the masterplan – which is the part that really gets me excited – where you're actually changing people's behaviour in ways they may hardly notice.
“For example, in a sustainably designed place it becomes ridiculous to get in the car every day – why would I when I can walk or cycle to do what I need? Or if I can grow food outside my back door maybe I don't need to go and buy packaged tomatoes. Things like that are seeing the light of day, and that's truly exciting to me”.

Read more of the interview here

Community: The Compost Club

We’ve recently welcomed the Compost Club as neighbours next to our office at Phoenix House.
Operating in Brighton, Hove and now Lewes, the company intercepts about 80,000 litres of food waste each year, using its nutrients to create a compost full of the organisms which give life to the soil. This results in the reduction of compost miles and the greening of local landscapes from people's gardens, allotments and bigger growing projects such as community and market gardens.
As director Michael Kennard, above, puts it, "How can we expect living plants if we don't have a living soil? Plants’ roots release energy 'exudates' to attract the right biology to make nutrients available to them. When these microorganisms are not present in the soil, the plants become vulnerable to pests and disease and don't produce healthy food.” 

Join Michael at the Phoenix Project Design Festival where he’ll be talking all things compost. He’ll also have a compost tumbler on display, compost for sale and a limited run of his book, 'How To Hot Compost' in print. 

Image by
Philip Volkers.

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