Standing at 350 square metres and with a total of 10,000 herbaceous plants and ferns, the Living Wall at the Rubens at the Palace Hotel (www.rubenshotel.com) will be one of the largest and most environmentally beneficial living walls in London, boasting a number of unique innovations.
On the doorstep of Buckingham Palace, and designed to provide waves of blossoming plants throughout the year which will create bands of colour accross the wall, it will also be one of London’s most visually prominant and colourful living walls, brightening the popular tourist walk from Victoria station to the Royal residence and improving the air quality for those living and working in the area.
The living wall will provide wildlife habitat, help keep the hotel cooler in summer and warmer in winter, clean the air, deaden noise and bring more cheer to this corner of Victoria, which is presently undergoing significant renovation.
The plant list includes a wide variety of native species and those deemed by the Royal Horticultural Society as attracting insect pollinators – drawing bees, butterflies and birds, which is crucial in light of the decline in the bee population and the government’s recent announcement for an urgent review. Buttercups, two varieties of crocus and strawberries will particularly attract butterflies and bees. From spring bulbs to everygreen geraniums, the plants have been selected with seasonal colour in mind, ranging from blues, pinks, purples, whites and yellows.
The wall will also improve the air quality in the area. The vegetation can trap microscopic pollutants known as particulate matter (PM10s). High levels of PM10s have been shown to cause respiratory illnesses that can result in death, so keeping their levels down is important for the health of the surrounding population.
The wall also includes a number of special features, including irrigation tanks to store rainwater harvested from the roofs. In a world’s first, the wall will also be programmed to respond to heavy rain by slowly pumping water through the wall and increasing storage capacity of the rainwater tanks, taking the pressure off the drains and thereby helping to reduce the risk of surface water flooding in the neighbourhood.
The Rubens at the Palace was identified as a suitable location during the Victoria Business Improvement District Green Infrastructure Audit (www.victoriabid.co.uk) one of several funded by the Greater London Authority http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/environment/greening-london/urban-greening/greening-bids The wall was designed by Gary Grant of the Green Roof Consultancy Ltd (www.greenroofconsultancy.com) and installed and maintained by TreeBox Ltd (www.treebox.co.uk)
The Rubens at the Palace is part of the Red Carnation Hotels, a collection of luxury boutique hotels in London, Dorset, Guernsey, Geneva, South Africa, Florida and Ireland. Jonathan Raggett, Managing Director of Red Carnation Hotels, of which the Rubens at the Palace is a part, commented:
“We’re excited to be unveiling the living wall on the side of the Rubens at the Palace. We take the issue of sustainable tourism very seriously across the entire Red Carnation Hotel collection, and this wall will minimise the hotel’s impact on the environment but also improve the air quality and aesthetic in this part of London.”
Armando Raish, managing director of Treebox, said: “Due to the variety of plants used in its construction, we expect the living wall at The Rubens to significantly increase the number and variety of bugs and bees in this part of Victoria, helping to promote biodiversity and return nature to this urban environment. The wall will also help improve the respiratory health of the people who live and visit Victoria by absorbing pollutants, an important feature of the wall given the mounting evidence that shows just how harmful particulate matter can be to human health.”
The Red Carnation Hotel Collection is part of The Travel Corporation, an international travel group with over 25 award winning brands, from luxury hotels and boutique river cruise ships to niche tour operators and other leisure interests. In 2008, The Travel Corporation established the TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, to undertake conservation work and foster sustainability in the tourism industry. Collectively funded by TTC’s family of brands, TreadRight supports projects that fall under the themes of water, biodiversity, leadership and community, and which drive the foundation’s vision to preserve the earth’s unique environments and diversity for future generations.
To find out more about the foundation visit: www.treadright.org