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Vertical Meadows by Arup


Vertical urban surfaces and building facades remain a largely untapped resource for green infrastructure as they pose specific installation and maintenance challenges. These challenges are being address by Arup, whose Foresight team have developed design solutions for both permanent and temporary green facades.

Vertical Meadow (formerly known as Living Wall Lite) is an innovative and cost effective living wall system for temporary applications such as construction site scaffolding and hoardings. It has been developed by Arup in partnership with Green Fortune, a living wall provider with a track record of over 300 living walls across Europe. Plants and flowers are grown from seed in-situ on a temporary mat that is easily fixed to any scaffolding or hoarding. Within two or three weeks the first shoots start to appear, before growing into a verdant vertical meadow. The species-rich wildflower meadows that grow are a haven for biodiversity, attracting bees with a high pollen flower mix as well as other insects such as ladybirds and spiders. Wild strawberries also help to produce food for other fauna such as local birds.

Like the trees and parkland in cities, the wall’s aesthetics will change with the seasons. In the spring and summer it will be lush and verdant and in the winter it will brown-off and die back a little, only to bounce back the following spring. This seasonality creates ongoing interest - a dynamic visual impact that constantly evolves.

Rainwater can be channelled through the system, both minimising the mains water irrigation for the plants, and reducing pressure on the mains drainage system. When connected to a re-circulation system water usage can be optimised for the whole system.

There are also positive impacts on local air quality and noise. Plants capture dust and particulates, and release them via precipitation into the drains. This can help to reduce dust and pollution by up to 20%. Studies show that people with views of greenery have a lower perception of noise. Moreover, plants help to attenuate street noise by reducing reverberation, and the wall helps minimise noise breakout from the work. Initial tests show a reduction of 13dB - comparable.

The Vertical Meadow system can be applied as a hoarding or scaffolding wrap. The mat arrives to site in rolls for installation by the site team, with Green Fortune overseeing the process and installing the irrigation system. A broad and adaptable seed mix ensures that each Vertical Meadow thrives in a range of varied site conditions. Basic monitoring and maintenance is quick and simple, and the site team can be trained to carry it out themselves. The system uses materials with low embodied energy, and because plants are grown from seed in-situ, there is none of the energy usage associated with growing plants in greenhouses off-site.

The Vertical Meadow System is currently being deployed by Grosvenor over scaffolding at the St Mark’s building, a Grade I listed property in London.

Arup’s permanent green façade, Living Wall, has been designed in partnership with DesignLaw and utilises similar techniques and has all of the ecosystem benefits provided by the Vertical Meadow. The permanent installation is modular system of aluminium foam tiles, backed with a pre-seeded root mat. Water and nutrients are delivered through a hydroponic systems and the tiles can be attached via a standard façade backing cassette.

It is hoped that these innovative systems developed with Arup and partners will promote greening, increase biodiversity and enhance ecosystem services of our current and future cities.



Urban areas should aim for 20% tree canopy cover

Forest Research’s Urban Forest Research Group is recommending that towns and cities should set a tree cover target of at least 20% (15% for coastal towns) and aim to achieve this level of cover within 10-20 years. Achieving this would require measuring existing tree canopy cover and setting realistic targets for increasing it. This recommendation was announced as part of a paper given to the Trees, People and the Built Environment conference in April by Forest Research’s Dr Kieron Doick. The research paper can be downloaded here.

Edinburgh's Living Laboratory

Part of a project which won almost £40,000 funding from NERC last year has turned Edinburgh's coastline into a Living Laboratory, with pupils making a short report for Newsround.

The project, being led by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s (RBGE) Urban Biodiversity Project Officer, Leonie Alexander, over it's lifetime will promote awareness of coastal climate change, risks in urban coastal areas and naturalisation of sea defences as part of Edinburgh’s Living Landscape partnership.

The education strand of the project has worked with primary and secondary schools in North Edinburgh to explore coastal biodiversity combining art, ecology, engineering and biogeomorphology – interplay between nature and rocks. Leonie, who is the Principal Investigator, explained: “The pupils have had chance to get down on the beach, learn about coastal wildlife and processes and have used this knowledge to design and make structures from concrete on the beach with Artecology, making a film about the work as they did it. 

The film is available here:

Evidence sought to make wetlands the number one solution

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) is asking designers and managers of man-made wetlands to complete a short survey that will help gather evidence for natural solutions to become the number one option for water management.

The survey is available at It’s designed to capture the wider benefits of such schemes, such as increasing local wildlife and being a place for kids to play, of SuDS (sustainable drainage systems), constructed treatment wetlands, and natural flood and coastal management schemes. WWT aims to strengthen the case for natural solutions to water management by presenting their full value to society.

Those completing the survey will be able to get support and advice on how to maximise the value of their scheme for wildlife and local people.

WWT’s Dr Chloe Hardman is behind the initiative. She said:“Natural approaches to solving flooding and pollution problems, such as SuDS and leaky dams, are be-coming mainstream, but we haven’t quite reached the tipping point where they are considered in every case. When wetland areas are included in these schemes, there is huge potential to create havens for wild-life and, as a result, lovely natural spaces for people to enjoy. Essentially we’re trying to assess the true value of these schemes. Some will already be assessing these benefits, but many won’t. Engineers don’t necessarily get the brief from their clients to build in wildlife or community benefits. So, we’re also here to join up the dots and help these schemes reach their full potential.”

The schemes that WWT is looking at fall broadly into the categories: natural flood management (such as leaky dams), SuDS, constructed treatment wetlands (or other wetlands designed to improve water quali-ty), and managed coastal realignment. The survey is available at and entries are added to an online map as they come in. Everyone who completes an entry will receive a summary of all the evidence gathered, along with case studies of the best examples. WWT will use the evidence to strengthen the case for natural solutions to water and waste problems at national and local government level.

How green infrastructure is transforming the way we live

CSGN Forum 2017: How green infrastructure is transforming the way we live

Thursday 15 June
John McIntyre Conference Centre, Pollock Halls, Edinburgh

This year’s Forum, our seventh, provides an opportunity to explore how green infrastructure projects are transforming the way we develop and repair our cities and towns.

Our event is aimed at public, private and third sector professionals, community activists and students working in or studying planning, engineering, architecture, green infrastructure, greenspace, active travel, sustainable development, urban regeneration, public health, community engagement and co-design.

As well as a key note Ministerial speech, during the day delegates will learn about three exciting projects which focus on the use of green infrastructure, innovation and liveability:
Senior Architect, Francesca Cesa Bianchi of Stefano Boeri Architects (SBA) will be presenting on the practices ground-breaking project Bosco Verticale in Milan. Translated as ‘vertical forest’, the project comprises two residential tower blocks that are clothed in vegetation contributing to the equivalent of 10,000 sqm of forest in a dense urban setting tempering the local microclimate, filtering pollution, creating new habitats and providing an extraordinary place in which to live. The ‘trees in the sky’ concept is taking off across the world and Francesca will speak about other projects the studio is developing;

Programme Manager, Wendy Langham from Eastside Partnership will talk about the Big Lottery Living Landmarks funded Connswater Community Greenway in east Belfast. Following the grant award in 2007, two major phases of development have created a 9km linear park with 16km of walking and cycling routes, 30 new or improved bridges crossing over three rivers, and works to deliver elements of Belfast’s Flood Alleviation scheme and improve water quality. Key drivers have been around health improvement, community cohesion, opportunities for employment and training and developing Belfast’s tourism offer;

Niels Jensen, a Traffic Planner with the City of Copenhagen will talk about Copenhagen’s Gronne Cykeruter or Green Cycle Routes. Well known for its high quality on-road cycling network, the City has also developed, since the 1930’s, a network of over 60km of routes through parks, open spaces, woodlands and other habitats which allow walkers and cyclists to commute away from traffic and in nature. Connecting key destinations and linking from the outskirts to the inner city these popular routes comprise new build and retrofit elements to create the network. With further routes being planned, Copenhagen remains on course as a World class city for active travel.

As well as learning about these major projects, delegates will also have an opportunity to find out about local active travel, greening and community growing projects in Edinburgh or to participate in workshops covering a range of topics including Scotland’s Greenspace Map, engaging with young people and encouraging communities to get involved in planning and placemaking.

The day will conclude with a panel and audience debate on accelerating the delivery of green infrastructure in our towns and cities.

This event is free to attend. With only 225 places available we suggest you book your place as soon as possible.

The full programme details and booking details are available here.