Job Done: Installation of vertical garden, east London

Project Devon Mansions Vertical Garden
Client Fair Community Housing Services
Design Mark Dion, Gross.Max
Contractors Old Southern Forge, QS

Resulting from a collaboration between American artist Mark Dion and Edinburgh-based landscape design practice Gross.Max, the £82,000 Vertical Garden has brought visual interest to a bare six-storey gable wall of a housing association-run residential block facing the busy southern approach road to London's Tower Bridge.

The housing association describes the project as a "positive beacon for the community".

Gross.Max partner Nigel Sampey said: "There were a lot of people involved for a relatively small project." These included project coordinator ArtOffice, which undertook community outreach work, including at the nearby Tate Modern gallery. The process was documented by Southwark Community TV.

The super-structure is a salvaged fire escape, which houses pot plants, climbers and a single tree of heaven (Ailanthus glandulosa). Planters contain a variety of soil types from sandy to heavy clay, echoing sedimentation layers found in the nearby Thames. Plants such as Buddleja were selected for their vigorous growth and attractiveness to wildlife, while hops, London rocket and fireweed attest to the area's history. The wall itself will gradually be covered with Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata).

According to Sampey: "It's still in its first season and will eventually be much more lush."


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