Construction News

Sun September 22 2019

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Verdant columns for Southampton viaduct

7 Aug In what is being billed as a UK first, Southampton City Council is planting foliage to climb up the columns of a highway viaduct to soften its appearance and offset some of the traffic pollution.

CGI of the living wall at Millbrook Roundabout
CGI of the living wall at Millbrook Roundabout

Southampton City Council’s highways contractor Balfour Beatty Living Places is working with living walls specialist Biotecture to install the first hydroponic living wall on a highways scheme.

Hydroponic living walls are sustainable, vertical installations containing living plants and foliage which grow without the need for soil. By absorbing carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, as well as particulate matter, they can go a little way to tackling air pollution. Biotecture has previously installed living walls at Birmingham New Street Station and on at The No.1 Court Wimbledon.

The Southampton living wall is being built on part of the newly reconstructed Millbrook Roundabout that Balfour Beatty completed earlier this year. Balfour Beatty is installing the foundations and a six-metre-high steel frame; Biotecture will design and position the hydroponic living wall.

Works started this summer and project completion is expected in autumn 2019.

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Biotecture managing director Richard Sabin said: “Yet to be seen on the UK road network, the Millbrook green columns are evocative of the Via Verde highway pillars in Mexico City, and they’ll help with air pollution reduction. We are very excited to be working on this flagship scheme in Southampton.”

Balfour Beatty Living Places managing director Steve Helliwell said: “We are incredibly proud to be working with Southampton City Council and Biotecture on this flagship project – a first in the UK. This is a project which has the potential to transform the way we sustainably deliver highways schemes across the industry.

“Through this project, we will not only improve air quality for local residents but improve the aesthetic of the roundabout for the travelling public and the wider community in Southampton.”

City councillor Jacqui Rayment, cabinet member for transport & public realm, said: “We have committed to making Southampton a clean, green, sustainable and successful city through our Green City Charter. The Living Wall project at Millbrook Roundabout is the first of its kind in the UK. It’s an exciting way to make our public spaces more attractive whilst at the same time having a beneficial effect on the environment. Investing in greening projects like this will play an important part in safeguarding our local environment for future generations.”   

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