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When everybody is planting apples a visionary plants oranges.

Matshona Dhliwayo

Client: McAleer & Rushe

Install Date: 2021

Biotecture worked with architects, Urban Innovations, to design and deliver 690m2 of living wall on a multi-story car park in Coventry. The introduction of this expansive living wall helped to satisfy planning concerns and creates a striking feature on what might have otherwise been a blank wall. The living walls at Cannon Park features a bold planting design creating a three-dimensional ‘wave’ or ‘drift’ aesthetic that will become more prominent as the plants mature. The design highlights Biotecture’s ability to match plant choice and design to client requirements.

The challenge

Cannon Park Shopping Centre in Coventry is currently being transformed. The wider development led by MPR includes refurbishment of the existing shopping centre, a new 780 bed student residence and a new 400 space multi storey car park.

Biotecture worked collaboratively with the architects, Urban Innovations and landscape architects, Parkhood, on ways to visually truncate the 17m high car park. These structures can appear as large, monolithic blocks characterised by lack of windows unless careful consideration is given to mitigating measures.

Concerns had also been raised at planning stage around the height of the development and so the architects were looking for ways of minimising its impact on the skyline. They envisaged living walls featuring a three-dimensional aesthetic to create a sense of rugged texture; a bold design where areas of foliage projected outwards from the wall.

The project team felt that the plant species Biotecture guided them towards would achieve this vision and elevate the whole development, making it more favourable with the local planning department and residents.

There was a requirement at Cannon Park for the living wall on the car park to achieve a fire rating because the 17m high structure was adjacent, albeit separate, to the student accommodation. The front, west, elevation features a steel frame structure that is set forward several metres from the main car park. The living wall had to integrate with and cover this entire structure. The living wall on the north elevation was fixed directly to the steel frame car park structure.

  • 690m2 of living wall supplied to minimise the visual scale of a new build car park
  • 34,890 plants featuring 17 different species
  • Freestanding living wall separate to the main car park structure
  • Achieves fire rating to B-s3, d2 and BS 476 classification for spread of flame (class 0)
  • Bold planting design to create a wave appearance across the wall

The solution

Biotecture delivered 690m2 of our hydroponic living wall system on the north and west facing walls of the car park. The hydroponic system – the same as that used by Biotecture on many other projects including Edgware Road Underground Station, which reaches its 10th anniversary in December 2021 – uses Grodan® as the growing medium. Grodan is dimensionally stable, chemically inert, and water retentive resulting in healthier and longer-lasting plants.

Biotecture proposed a planting scheme that addressed the landscape architect’s brief for a three-dimensional drift or ‘wave’ pattern across the foliage, selecting plants with extra-long foliage depending on the position in the living wall.

A total of 34,890 plants featuring 17 different species were supplied. When viewed from afar the subtle elongated bands of lighter coloured leaf species creates a sense of movement in the breeze. These ‘waves’ or drifts will embellish as the plants mature, adding further visual interest.

Biotecture is also specified on phase two of the development, starting in 2022, and comprising extensive areas of living wall on the new student accommodation.

Getting the overall look of the living wall was important on this project; we didn’t want it to turn into a monoculture of greenness. Biotecture worked closely with us in the early stages to guide us in selecting the most appropriate variety of plants that would meet our specific vision for the project. The results are truly stunning, and the living wall turns what would be an ordinary car park design into something quite extra-ordinary.

David Watkiss Director, Parkhood, Landscape Architect
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