Engineering firm Arup and development company Grosvenor have teamed up with urban life specialists, Green Fortune to unveil a ground-breaking new ‘living wall’ in Mayfair. The structure is being trialled in the UK for the very first time and has been installed at the St Marks’ building. The property which is Grade I listed is being renovated to create a new community and retail space. A completion date for the £5 million makeover has been confirmed for some time in 2017.
The wall, which has been daubed, ‘Living Wall Lite’ spans 80m square and consists of flowers, strawberries (yes really) and grass. The foliage is intended to distract people’s attention away from the monstrous scaffolding which has been erected at the site. Studies have shown that living walls can reduce noise pollution by up to 10 decibels as well as improving air quality by up to 20%. Seeds were planted in late June and the wall has since flourished into something of a vertical garden.
The initiative has been welcomed by Grosvenor Development Director, Mark Tredwell, who felt that the introduction of the green wall is in line with the company’s long-term ambition to improve environmental sustainability, especially in the more exclusive areas of London. Tredwell also wants to ensure that the Grosvenor London Estate continues to ‘adapt’ and ‘evolve’ in order to reduce air pollutions and introduce rich biodiversity for the filthy-rich residents who call Mayfair their home.
For many, the Living Wall Lite has the potential to transform scaffolding and hoardings. As Alistair Law of Arup suggests, ‘By introducing plants and flowers, we can create a more attractive and healthier environment for local residents, businesses and workers on site.”
The living wall is going down well with locals and is well suited to historical restorations, which often progress rather slowly. However, what builders and construction workers make of them is another matter. Materials often have to be handed or hoisted up through scaffold openings. So anything that hinders vision or movement might pose a danger to the poor souls who have to work instead behind the scenes instead of admiring the pleasant view. Falling debris or hazardous material could also damage the vertical plumage as well as the numerous sensors used to measure noise, air and temperature.
While the living wall has garnered unanimous praise from the media, it seems to have gone largely unnoticed that St Mark’s, a Grade I listed building of significant historical interest and former church, is being converted into shops. Nevertheless, if the Living Wall distracts people from ugly scaffolding while reassuring them that their air-quality is being improved with each breath then all is well and good in our beautiful society. Unfortunately if you’re one of those people who like a bit of scaffolding on your building facades or, even worse, think that wacky environmental building projects are, um, complete nonsense, then your views are going to be ignored.
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