Presentation on theme: "History of the project 2007. John Ashwell had raised money from the Lottery to paint the front of his block of Georgian town houses 21-35 Wharfdale Road."— Presentation transcript:
History of the project 2007. John Ashwell had raised money from the Lottery to paint the front of his block of Georgian town houses 21-35 Wharfdale Road in heritage colours. He had already raised money locally to get hundreds of trees planted, including all those on Wharfdale Road. The street was starting to look less downtrodden and more like somewhere people live. Except… For this ugly, dirty, unloved wall that dominates the street as you walk, cycle or drive down. John, together with Mike Jackson and Sophie Talbot, had an idea. Let’s make this wall a feature. They wanted to turn it into a vertical garden. Mike wanted to make sure it would be sustainable and easy to maintain from a gardener’s perspective. Sophie wanted to make sure it would be part of the green corridor providing habitat for urban wildlife in KX that runs from Regent’s Park, the canal, the sides of the rail tracks and Camley Street Natural Park. John wanted it to be an exciting public art installation. Originally Sophie wanted to get it designed participatively, involving the whole community. She wanted to get local teenagers trained up to run design workshops with the wider community. The three didn’t want to set up a new organisation to manage the project; they wanted to work in partnership with an existing local organisation like the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, Groundwork or Thornhill Bridge Community Gardeners.
History continued… This was not to be so, to make the project work they set up a brand new charity in 2008 and incorporated it as a limited company. Their good neighbour Stephan Schulte said, if you are creating a new charity don’t be short-sighted and limit it to this one project. Other local people might want to run projects just like you and, as you’ve done the work of setting up an organisation, they could run their projects through the charity you’ve set up. He suggested we call the charity King’s Cross Community Projects. And this was done. The three started raising money for the project later in 2008. Alas, the economy turned upside down just as they started fundraising so the costly participative element of the project was lost. Luckily, Islington Council had been given a small amount of money by the developer on the North West corner of Wharfdale Road that could only be used for a small scale project like this one. They applied for that money under Section 106 and won it. Without the community sharing in developing the design, the three needed to commission somebody and they had no idea who. Sophie searched the internet and made initial contact with two sculptors, both with local connections. John set up a meeting with the steelwork designer he often works with based on the canal at Camley Street. Mike set up a meeting with Sir Anthony Caro’s studio as Sir Anthony is a fan of Camden Garden Centre where Mike works.
… More history They knew Sir Anthony Caro – one of the UK’s greatest living sculptors, trained under Henry Moore – was a long shot. But his project manager Patrick Cunningham said, you need to meet Anthony’s student, Neil Ayling. Which they did. After lengthy discussions with each possible designer, the three very happily agreed to commission Neil. In 2010 Multi-national company E C Harris whose HQ is on York Way said they wanted to support King’s Cross Community Projects. They’ve been wonderful, taking on a large portion of project management and gifting us enough money to maintain the wall in future years. Places for People, owners of the land at the base of the wall, are in negotiation with us over a legal agreement allowing the wall to be installed and giving metered access to their water supply for irrigation. Complete Offices, owners of Lighterman House are happy with the design and will be installing all the foundations needed for the sculpture at no cost to us. Alan Conisbee, locally based structural engineer has made sure the structure will be sound and no harm will come to the wall behind or the land below. The planting scheme will be designed by Mike in conjunction with vertical landscape designer Marie Clarke. 2012. Now it’s up to you…
The simplest way to make a greenwall is to grow a climbing plant like ivy and allow it to completely cover your wall. Ivy will only damage a building when it is being removed. Otherwise, not only does it help to remove particulates from polluted air, it also provides valuable habitat and food for urban wildlife – particularly birds - and insulates buildings keeping them warmer in cold weather and cooler in hot weather. The most famous greenwall designer in the world is Patrick Blanc, an example of his work can be seen on The Driver pub at the eastern end of Wharfdale Road. He produces beautiful works of art but they do require a relatively large amount of maintenance such as pruning, replanting and regular feeding with nutrients. We wanted to create a vertical garden that wouldn’t require anywhere near as much maintenance or feeding. We were lucky in that we could design our garden to be one meter deep. At this depth it aligns with the start of the bin yard door without causing an obstruction. Our original design comprised three large planters each getting slimmer as the height increases. This enables a great deal of soil to be used combined with sub soil irrigation to get water to the roots of the plants. It wasn’t very attractive however, hence we approached artists to design something better. Neil’s design allows deep level planting. Mike and Marie’s planting scheme will be designed with low maintenance in mind. John will design the sub irrigation system, Places for People will allow us metered access to their water supply so that we pay for all the water we use. Neil and John will design a solar powered lighting system to subtly light the pods from inside. From greenwall to Living Sculpture
I was very excited by the prospect of a Living Wall on the Wharfdale road Kings Cross from the day I was approached to design the structure. It is so unique and the brief given to me by KCCP was instantly appealing to me. The brief was fairly open with a few key things I had to consider in the design. It had to be site specific for the Wall in Battle Bridge Court, Wharfdale road. The wall is very tall and there is only enough room for the structure to be around a metre deep. Also, the structure or sculpture must accommodate planting. This in itself was very exciting for me; a challenge, but one I knew I could work with. It gave me the chance to incorporate the colours and textures of planting into the sculptural qualities of the structure, something I haven’t worked with before in my sculptures. Sophie and Mike from KCCP gave me some suggested starting points for my research into the area, which I felt was important. I also found looking at maps and seeing how the area had developed over many years was a great insight. But none more so than what is happening right now and just walking around the area you get an instant sense that Kings Cross is under a huge make over and is developing into an international hub. This project was a chance to look forward and to bring a sense of community and identity to the area. Introducing additional greenery into this area is a great thing. There is a great community feel here and so will, I am sure, be enjoyed by many people through the seasons. The Wharfdale Living Wall is a chance to create a beacon for the local community and a focal point for years to come. A word from the artist