City launches first anti-pollution garden


The Square Mile opened it’s newest green space last week, but this little cluster of plants does more than brighten up the brutalist concrete walls of the Barbican.

The garden on Moor Lane is designed to combat air pollution, a first for the City of London as part of its Low Emission Neighbourhood project.

Conceived by landscape designers Studio Xmpl, the garden is made up of plants with hairy leaves or stems designed to capture and mitigate particulate air pollution and improve biodiversity.

The pop-up garden was launched last Thursday to coincide with National Clean Air Day, and is part of a raft of pilot schemes around the Golden Lane and Barbican Estates aimed at improving local air quality.

Proposals for the scheme include air pollution awareness events, working with businesses to tackle emissions from deliveries and freight, new electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and the introduction of green taxi ranks.

Volunteers from Friends of City Gardens and local residents volunteered more than 500 hours of their time to install the garden, with the help of local businesses and workers from nearby building sites.

Barbican resident and Friends of City Gardens chair, Sarah Hudson, said the project had united people from every corner of the community.

“We had residents from every estate in the City come down to help, Mace Construction sent their team [from the 100 Moorfields construction site] to help unload lorries and build bird boxes, Riney donated the gravel…this really was driven by the community,” she said.

The pop-up garden forms part of a low emissions route; a marked pathway from Barbican station encouraging pedestrians to make use of ‘cleaner’ walkways through the City, rather than ‘pollution-riddled’ Beech Street.

It will remain in place for at least two years, acting as a “prototype” for other groups to increase planting at street level within the Square Mile, the Friends of City Gardens’ City in Bloom Challenge for 2017.

Farringdon station has received a similar treatment, with repurposed ducting and pipes from Crossrail work planted up with air quality plants to form a long garden bed. Ms Hudson said the group are also looking at sites such as the Moor Lane bridge and Aldersgate bridge for additional pop-up anti-pollution gardens.

“We’ve had corporates like UBS and Redrow replanting their sites with air quality plants and the City really is leading on the number of green roofs in London,” she added.

“Everybody really is much more aware of the importance of biodiversity and keen to see patches of green pop up all over the City.”