Friday 23rd of April 2010
The view from our old flat’s balcony made it to the papers
The wall of plants in the children’s opposite us has failed to grow and died. It cost a fortune.
A council was today accused of wasting £100,000 of taxpayers’ money after an award-winning “living wall” died.
The 30ft-high structure, which was praised as a pioneering green concept when it was unveiled in north London, was created to make up for the loss of open space when a new children’s centre was created in a park.
But critics are now accusing Islington council of frittering away public money on a “green extravagance” using untested technology.
The wall was built in Paradise Park, Holloway, four years ago with more than 30 different plants, including strawberries, thyme and various flowering shrubs, attached to it by steel mesh.
Instead of being rooted in the ground, they were intended to thrive with their roots exposed, using a unique re-cycled watering system, which was meant to spread moisture throughout the wall along tiny pipes.
But the system failed and the wall, once lush and green, is now brown and almost completely lifeless.
Tim Newark of Islington Taxpayers’ Alliance said the so-called “vertical garden” was a costly waste of money. “The architects should have worked out all the problems before it was installed,” he said. “The council should not experiment with taxpayers’ money.
“What about the extra tens of thousands which will no doubt be spent now trying to make it work – or getting rid of it and recladding the walls?”
Labour ward Cllr Barry Edwards claimed that when the installation went up it looked “wonderful”.
He added: “Since then we’ve had problems. Now the wall seems pretty well dead. The fancy watering system has never quite worked. Either it overwatered or it underwatered the plants.
“It would have been better to let someone else try it first, experience all the problems and find a solution before trying it here.”
The wall was designed by Australian-born architect Deborah Saunt, tipped as a rising star of the profession.
An Islington Council spokesperson said: “The wall was the first of its type to be installed in the UK and, as with anything new, carried a certain element of risk. Of course we’re disappointed that it hasn’t thrived. It seems this could be down to its design and we are looking at the best way to restore it.”
Photos taken from that balcony:
Before the centre was built:
internet name suggestions for you, as you asked us for some:
Isaac Newton’s dog