The regeneration of Swindon has taken another big step forward. Installers have started work on the positioning of one of the UK’s largest living green walls features in the town centre.
Created as part of the Public Realm works, the green walls have been in development for the last nine months and will form a key part of the new-look Canal Walk. They will cover the south side of the bridge that connects the Brunel Plaza with the Brunel Arcade and the north side of the vehicle bridge.
Green walls are living, planted structures that continuously change and evolve as the plants grow and mature within them. This means that large vertical faces on the sides of buildings and other structures become a tapestry of plant communities, providing lush, colourful facades. As well as spectacular visual appeal the walls also offer sound-absorption and carbon reduction benefits, making them a popular ecological counterpoint to modern construction developments. Green walls have been installed at the Westfield Shopping Centre at Shepherd’s Bush, West London and are becoming popular additions to offices and private residences.
Aldingbourne Nurseries, the Chichester-based producer of living walls and green roofs, regeneration consultants, Nicholas Pearson Associates and consulting engineers, Arup have worked together to create a design that reflects Canal Walk’s historical use as a waterside landscape. The wall will have an immediate impact as the plants will be fully established prior to installation.
Among the 25 varieties of plants featured are: tall plants such as Dryopteris, medium height Hosta Hallton, low growing Vinca Minor ACBA, red and purple flowered Cyrtomium fotunei, medium height blue and purple flowered Viola Queen Charlotte.
As a result, the form, colour and texture of the plant species, which are arranged in naturalistic swathes and patterns, will provide interest every month of the year. Violas, for example, flower in early spring, while the hostas flower in early summer, their leaves remaining colourful throughout autumn. The green walls will also benefit from sustainable rainwater harvesting techniques to keep the plants irrigated all year round.
Cllr Garry Perkins, Swindon Borough Council Deputy Leader said "The green wall is something that is genuinely different and we’re going to have one of the first in the country right in the town centre. There’s a lot of building work going on in the main shopping area at the moment, but things are coming together fast and I have always said that once it’s all finished, people will really like what they see."
The installation of the green walls is part of the project to rejuvenate the area of Swindon town centre that includes the length of Regent Street from Regent Circus to Jubilee Square and its sidestreets. Already in place are several new recycling bins, new street furniture and the "crumpled wall" water feature, while Regent Street construction is ahead of schedule.
More information: www.forwardswindon.co.uk
Pictured: 2 artist’s impressions of Swindon’s green wall; the green wall at growing and development stage