Greening the city

It's been great working with landscape architects Gustafson Porter Bowman and environmentalist Gary Grant to provide wildlife support on an enormous 300m long retaining wall to the rail lands of the Stratford International Quarter, adjacent to Queen Elizabeth Park.

The wall will have indigenous climbing plants trained up it with various holes, voids and crevices to act as roosting, nesting or overwintering sites for a range of species including snails, spiders, beetles, bees, birds and bats. habi-sabi bat boxes, bird boxes and bee/bug hotels supplements these opportunities and provide additional support in the early years as the plants establish.Probably the most valuable type of wall for biodiversity is a dry stone wall as the open joints and voids provide refuges for wildlife. Although it is not feasible to create a dry stone wall at the required scale, the chosen formwork provides some of the crevices and voids typically found in a dry stone wall. As the plants cover the wall they will create secluded spaces with a more stable microclimate. Exposed spots, without vegetation, will receive the warmth of the sun, which may provide conditions suitable for mining bees and roosting bats.

The habi-sabi design with customized split battens gave the whole team confidence that secure fixings could be made wherever needed along the wall, despite its organic irregularity. The Reckli moulds were cast from an existing drystone wall in Yorkshire in 9m non repeating sections. The first habi-sabi were fitted early December 2016 with a rolling programme for the duration of the construction programme through spring 2017 to take advantage of in situ scaffolding.


Catherine du Toit
Catherine du Toit