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When everybody is planting apples a visionary plants oranges.

Matshona Dhliwayo

Client: Capital & Counties Properties PLC

Install Date: 2017

This first covent garden living wall vertical park at the gateway to Covent Garden is formed of over 8,000 plants from 21 different varieties and provides a real wow factor to the area and is in keeping with the history of Covent Garden.  For the client it gave them the facelift the building needed.  

Project Details

To coincide with the 500th anniversary of Covent Garden we were commissioned by Capital and Counties to create a vertical park at the gateway to the area.  Our package was to develop the whole of the façade to Regal House along both Long Acre and James Street.  This included a full structural assessment and strategy as well as looking at the potential planting palette and designs.

We were asked to include a number of additional features including retrofitting a rainwater harvesting system into the basement of the building to use to irrigate the living wall and providing a full dynamic lighting strategy for the building.  We also designed and specified some bespoke LED lit balcony planters.

The planting brief was to provide as much colour as possible taking into account the façade orientation and local conditions.  Planting selection was to provide for both biodiversity and air quality improvements.  This was with a view to providing for native birds and invertebrates in particular as well as flowering plants that would provide some nectar.

 

Highlights
  • Approx 200m2 of living wall on two aspects – West and North
  • High profile location wrapping around the corner of Long Acre and James Street in Covent Garden
  • Provides a real wow factor to anyone coming out of Covent Garden tube station
  • Full works including steel structure to support the living wall by Biotecture
  • Integrated and illuminated window planter boxes for additional dressing
  • Fully maintained by Biotecture since installation

Our Approach

As a turnkey package we took a three pronged approach to taking the project forwards.  Firstly we looked at the structure of the existing building with a view to seeing how we could best support the living wall.  Secondly we looked at the potential to irrigate the covent garden living wall from rainwater and thirdly we looked to develop the planting design to match the expectations of the client whilst being bound by the environment and aspect of the living walls.

We engaged Evolve Structural Engineers to work with us to develop a bespoke steel frame solution that we then fixed back through the brick façade to the structure of the building.  This was designed to fit around the existing features of the buildings including the windows.

In the basement of the building we diverted the main rainwater downpipe from the roof into our tanks.  This was then threaded through the existing building to the living wall.

To enable the planting design we carried out desktop shade studies to mimic the environment throughout year.  This informed the plant palette.  We then offered two design choices and the client selected an organic curvilinear planting design that would add the appearance of dynamic movement to the building.  Plants of similar form and /or colour were selected for the two aspects to provide uniformity of design.

 

To learn more about how outdoor living walls reduce air pollution, reduce urban temperatures, improve biodiversity and reduce noise for the benefit of the environment, the people and businesses you can visit our ‘Benefits of outdoor living walls’ page.

The living wall on Regal House has totally transformed the building.  It’s going strong and we’re currently working with Biotecture on several other proposals for living walls which is itself an endorsement

Amanda Stevenson Head of Sustainability, Capital and Counties Properties PLC
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