Pioneering new Living Wall to filter air in London Bridge


On Friday 14th June London’s most effective air-filtering living wall was launched at King’s College London’s London Bridge Campus, SE1.

The very latest in horticultural and environmental design has been used to develop a pioneering Living Wall that has been installed on the side of Orchard-Lisle House, London Bridge. The vertical garden covering 75m2 was opened by Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, at an event to celebrate the completion of the project. Ms Rodrigues was joined by Fenella Griffin of Untitled Practice and Niall McEvoy of Scotscape to explain the architectural and planting concepts that inspired the design.

This green wall has been funded through the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s Air Quality Business Fund which has awarded £200,000 to create a Business Low Emissions Neighbourhood in the area.

Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Environment, said: “I’m delighted that green walls such as this wonderful example here today are being installed and delivered by partnerships that recognise they have an important role to play in improving their neighbourhoods.

“Business Improvement Districts, in particular, have been at the forefront of this approach and I’ve been particularly impressed by the commitment from Team London Bridge and Better Bankside to promoting and supporting environmental improvements to the public realm.”

The wall has been planted with a diverse selection of species to provide the maximum benefits to the local community and its wildlife. It is the first time this system supporting such a variety of plant size has been used in London.

The choice of 73 native and non-native species is carefully curated to provide year-round biodiversity impact. It contains 30 Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) approved flowering species and 18 RHS approved pollinating species, which are proven to support an increased insect population.

Variations in plant size allow for air movement to pass through the dense foliage, which acts as an urban air filter. Plants with hairy, waxy or sticky leaves trap particulates (PM10, PM2.5, and PM1) which are harmful to our health. These are held until they are washed clean by rain. 50 lamb’s ear plants were given to attendees, to highlight the kind of leaf structure which captures particulates.

The wall is designed to be self-sustaining. Rainwater from the building’s roof flows through the downpipe, is stored in a tank and then recirculated into the wall to irrigate the plants, all controlled remotely. As the temperature goes above 20 degrees, the watering is increased.

The Orchard-Lisle Living Wall has been transformed as part of the Borough High Street Low Emission Neighbourhood initiative led by Team London Bridge and Better Bankside, supported by the Mayor of London. Interventions highlight calm and healthy walking routes in the busy London Bridge and Bankside area and are complemented by initiatives to promote green business practices like reduced deliveries and clean vehicles.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity owns Orchard-Lisle House and will support the upkeep of the living wall. 

The wall has been created by Scotscape with the support of Untitled Practice Landscape Architects. 

Click here to view the planting guide.