A team of landscape designers have come up with the Green Block, a living building material that could help London become a National Park City, the first of its kind.
Like many urban centres worldwide, London too is blighted by air pollution, with especially high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (diesel engines are a big culprit for this one) and fine particulates; a recent study found 9,500 premature deaths per year are attributable to air pollution in London alone, which is a much higher number than previously thought.
A recently launched campaign to turn London into a National Park City doesn't just aim to improve the air quality of London and the health of its inhabitants, but to turn the city into a place in which people and nature can live more harmoniously together, and where green spaces are valued, enhanced and made more accessible to all.
Unsurprisingly, 84% of Londoners are in favour of the initiative.
To help the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, turn this vision into a reality, the landscape team at WATG came up with the Green Block, a living building material, maintenance-free and modular, which is permeated with native wild flower seeds and even has its own irrigation reservoir.
According to WATG, the Green Block can support and enhance biodiversity in London (and any other city) in a number of creative ways. The block could be used to delineate cycle lanes, to green up shop fronts and business facades, create green corridors in between city areas, or as cladding for buildings, and of course they could also bring back greenery to the concreted-over front gardens one sees a lot of in London these days, all the while enhancing biodiversity, improving air quality and turning dull grey areas into beautiful and living green spaces that people enjoy spending time in.
The idea of green walls is nothing new, with the high-tech sensor-filled leafy "living wall" set up in London's Mayfair district just last year. What makes Green Block different is that it is designed with ease of implementation and accessibility in mind, and it has no high-tech high-maintenance features: the blocks are self-sustaining and can be erected pretty much anywhere in the city.
The Green Block, and green infrastructure initiatives in general, can provide a great way to help combat a number of city problems in one fell swoop, and to provide cleaner air, improved biodiversity, noise reduction, more pleasant surroundings to live and work in, better public health. The provision of pleasant spaces in which people can come together can also help reduce the stress and isolation of city life.
Together with green transport solutions, such as e-mobility and cycling infrastructure, and a renewable energy focus, it will be an essential strategy for healthier and more sustainable living in the increasingly populated cities of the future.