Saturday, September 24, 2011

Edgware Road Tube Station Gets a Make-over

Photo courtesy: Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

As my readers may have guessed by now, I am a huge fan of living walls. There are just so many reasons to love them - aesthetically pleasing; environmentally-friendly; soften the harsh non-caring feel of concrete; remind us we have roots other than our family; slow an overworked mind; delight the senses...

I am pleased to see that these walls are catching on all over the world; and, the projects are becoming larger and more varied.

Located at a busy, noisy and ugly intersection in downtown London, the new vertical garden, which is 180 sq.m. (1938 sq.ft.) in size, will cover one side of the Edgware Road Tube station. This living wall will ensure that it is not so ugly anymore. An ugly duckling will become a beautiful swan.

Photo courtesy: Bonnie Alter/CC BY-NC 2.0

Last week the finishing touches were added, in time for its unveiling this week.

Workmen from Biotecture, the company installing it, were just putting in the last plants. It is planted with a mixture of evergreen and perennial plants selected to survive in a roadside environment. Plants will also be selected for their ability to trap dirt particles.

Fewer dirt and dust particles along with the air-cleaning power of this wall will help alleviate some of the pollution at this corner. And, let's not forget that a marvelous living wall brimming with life and colour now stands where a nondescript, cold concrete wall once did.

Photo courtesy: Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Biotecture will experiment with a variety of plants having smaller leaves and different textures and growth habits to understand their ability to trap small particles. Plants in the wall include Munsted lavender, geraniums, lamb's ears, heuchera and veronica.

Plants will be grown in a peat-free substrate and the structure that supports the plants includes a waterproof backing called Ecosheet -- which is manufactured in the UK from recycled materials.

Photo courtesy: Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

The wall will be monitored every week for dirt particle absorption from the traffic emissions. It is drip-fed twice a day. Using a SIM card, the Biotecture offices can monitor the irrigation from an off-site location.

It has been proved again and again that drip is the most effective and efficient watering system available. When a drip system is properly installed, it can save up to 30% of the water used.

The wall is part of a series of green measures the city is introducing in order to reduce pollution from traffic emissions.

The government has given Transport for London a grant from a new Clean Air Fund specifically designed to help London comply with legally binding European targets for reducing pollution.

In addition, there are plans for approximately 500 new street trees and shrubs to be planted at busy intersections.

Good on you, London! May you lead the way in green, living walls.

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