Urban designer Kathryn Firth reviewing the masterplan for the Phoenix

We’re at a turning point in history. This is an existential crisis where nothing less than everything is at stake. The juggernaut of planetary destruction has extraordinary momentum.

But the global climate and ecological crises can seem abstract, even overwhelming. We’ve created a society in which profound social injustices and alienation can seem to be ‘other’, carrying a fatalistic inevitability to which we feel indifferent.

It is understandable that many of us are confused or feel powerless to act. People feel urgency but lack agency. Human Nature’s mission is nothing less than to change this. It is time to take these challenges head on and seize the myriad opportunities for a new world of cooperation, civility, productivity, inclusion and delight.

Welcome to the neighbourhood

Human Nature is a new-generation real estate, ventures and lifestyle business. We aim to move further, faster, deeper in finding solutions rooted in neighbourhoods – at a scale and with a proximity all can relate to – that will help people to flourish while safeguarding the planet for future generations.

We seek to make and remake places and grow communities with the philosophy and discipline of what John Elkington calls ‘exponential sustainability’. This, the new imperative in world affairs, has to be translated at speed into practical action on the ground in everyone’s neighbourhood.

“The world is something that we make. And could just as easily make differently”
David Graeber


Phoenix Project Masterplan
Material Cultures for Human Nature

We’re making new types, tenures and designs for homes and creative workspaces, beautiful streets, super-greened environments and wonderful public spaces. Together these can help any neighbourhood become a safe, joyful and fulfilling place to live, work and play, inspiring and enabling all to flourish while addressing the greatest social and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

At Human Nature we believe there is no better or more effective place to start working through the challenges and seizing the opportunities for renewal than in place itself: in our homes and in our neighbourhoods.

The relatable stories that arise from this can fuel a new social imagination about the far better future we can obtain. Changing where we live so that we might more easily and happily change how we live.

“Let’s start living on the planet as if we intended to stay”
Crispin Tickell

This is where we can see for ourselves the many benefits of making and re-making places, renewing society, improving economic productivity while regenerating climate and the natural world for a new kind of abundance and ease in the way we live.

We aim to develop model processes, typologies, designs, intrinsically sustainable construction systems, technologies and commercial and community ventures that with the benefit of aligned investment, corporate government and community partners, can be replicated, scaled and applied rapidly in neighbourhoods everywhere.

Sustainability is a series of great opportunities disguised as insoluble problems
John Holdren, Barack Obama’s chief scientific adviser

At the Phoenix in Lewes we are putting all of these ingredients together in one neighbourhood, pioneering this uncompromising approach at an impactful scale.

Many of the components of future-proofed, resilient and adaptable places can be found here; they are woven together through skilled multi-disciplinary design to craft a remarkable new community, founded in and hopefully burnishing Lewes’ established qualities and strengths.

Here we are intent on demonstrating that by changing where we live we can inspire and help people to change how we live. Scaling solutions from place to planet. Read more about the project here.

“This looks like the beginning of the future”
Visitor to the Phoenix Project Design Festival, September 2021

Phoenix Project, Lewes, South Downs

Human Nature is teaming up with far-sighted and innovative investors, public and government partners, creative businesses and passionate community organisations and citizens of all kinds. Together we are helping to forge a new movement.

We are pragmatic optimists, business activists, willing partners and most of all, doers.

The world demands that every sector, every community, every business must achieve a step-change, cut the excuses, jump the barriers, find the enterprise and creativity to innovate as never before, step-by-practical-step. No-one can do this on their own: it takes a village. Join us.

“If you find something that you want to change, you have two options. One, is to talk about the change you are going to make. Or, two, stop talking and begin”
Manifesto of a Doer

Founded by two former directors of Greenpeace with over 60 years’ experience in the international sustainable built environment, Human Nature draws its inspiration and practical experience from a wide range of people, sectors and competencies.

Our founders developed the first green commercial office in London in 1990, ran United Nations programmes on Green Cities, led or otherwise participated in major masterplans and regeneration schemes for some of the biggest place-based schemes in the UK including the 2012 London Olympic Games. We developed a landmark millennium project, regenerating derelict coal mines, creating important new habitats and pioneering sustainable design, construction, resource management and learning for sustainability.

We have researched, lobbied for, shaped and written government policies in planning, regeneration, housing and climate change. We’ve run festivals, public design enquiries, planning applications and public communication campaigns on climate change and sustainability for government, pension funds, city and county councils, regeneration agencies, major investors and landowners and PLC developers. One of our NEDs developed and led the Live Lagom campaign for Ikea and later helped that global retailer forge a new purpose grounded in sustainable and healthy living.

Our people come from business – global corporations and entrepreneurial start-ups – social enterprise, campaigns, community activism and government. They bring expertise in organisational design, strategy and transformation, management, regeneration, housing and placemaking, digital marketing, campaigning, retail, finance, food and beverage, design, and construction.