Building Green – the Bible

Tucked away on the resources section of the Building Green website is a broken link that tells the story of how this group came about.

London Ecology Unit published a highly influential book in 1993 called ‘Building Green – A guide to using plants on roofs, walls and pavements’. It was a prescient tome – heralding techniques and approaches from across Europe and the world that came established only years later in the UK, Building Green was a systemic, ecological approach to urban nature. It became the name of our community group.

When at the Greater London Authority, I created an electronic version of the out of print manuscript – the broken link referred to. Well, here it is in all its free, downloadable glory. Go crazy.

Johnstone and Newton – Building Green

In particular note the appendices which list plants for different locations – walls of different aspects, balconies, roofs etc. Check it out, it’s great – all credit to the originators Jacklyn Johnston and John Newton.

Save Madeira Terrace!

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Help us restore our iconic arches to their former glory! We will save this historical structure from falling into disrepair, in the process creating a new lively quarter for Brighton.

Save Madeira Terrace  is a crowdfunding campaign launched on 26 June and running until  30 Nov 2017 by which time it needs to raise £432,598.

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Brighton & Hove Building Green is a partner in this project, as the terraces sit hand in glove with Europe’s longest, oldest green wall.

Madeira Drive A5 leaflet Building Green 1509

Crowdfunding launch today – Madeira Terraces

Building Green are attending the launch of the Crowdfunding appeal for Madeira Terraces today. This will be key to securing the ‘proof of concept’ for the restoration of the Victorian terraces, which are integral to the status of the Madeira Drive Green wall.

The Council says that the crowdfunding is a way to kick start this process.  “It will:

Provide restored and rejuvenated new arches to show just how tremendous and beautiful the restored project could be

Allow us to test restoration methods and take apart the structure to investigate the ways in which it can most cost effectively be restored

Provide a new focal point – a show case or “show home” for the bigger project and a way to attract in commercial and external funding for the wider project.”

Building Green will continue to work with the Council and partners to press for and advise on the protection and restoration of the living wall which pre-dates and is integral with the Terraces.

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A visit to Max Miller Walk, Madeira Drive

Building Green was asked to advise on some leaks above Concorde 2 recently, which meant a rare trip to Max Miller walk via the Victorian lift in the building. I managed to get a nice pic of the fish detail on the drainpipe – this is one of the cast iron supports for the terrace…no wonder there are rust and decay issues!

The walk – and the Madeira Terraces – have been closed for some time due to safety fears.

The future of Maderia Drive – it’s in all our hands…and an important clue

Building Green attended an important first meeting about the future of Madeira Drive recently.

The Council hosted the meeting, and invitees included a number of community organisations like ours, local businesses, interested residents and others. There were some big names in the room, which bodes well for the level of interest in regenerating the neglected East Brighton seafront.

Building Green spoke about the value and importance of the Madeira Drive Green Wall, which contributes vital natural heritage alongside the built heritage of the seafront. We will be offering the expertise the support of our volunteers to ensure the green wall is protected and enhanced as part of any future development.

The meeting discussed the new crowdfunding appeal – to be launched soon – plans and suggestions for future development, and ‘meanwhile’ uses to bring much needed life, recreation and business activity to Madeira Drive.

On our way to the meeting, we stopped off at the Fishing Museum and found a woodcut that offers an important clue to the founding of the green wall. For some time, Building Green has been looking for evidence of when the wall was first planted (with Japanese Spindle). Our hunch was that it was earlier than 1880, though the only documentary evidence points to 1882 (JB Evison 1969 ‘Gardening by the sea’). Well, I know you’re holding your breath, so…the woodcut print was published in 1872 and seems to show evenly spaced shrubs planted along the footing of the cliff. How exciting!

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For a full history of our wonderful Madeira Drive, visit our unique page.

Who’s got the biggest green wall?

Is this a very male question? Maybe, but I was struck by the claims from the National Grid that their new car park green wall is the largest in Europe! Is our very own Madeira Drive green wall bigger and better?

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National Grid car park, Warwick

The National Grid boasts “a living wall of 1027 sq.m, making this Europe’s largest. The Living wall is home to over 97,000 plants of over 20 different species“. Undoubtedly impressive stuff.

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Madeira Drive’s green wall by comparison – planted by the Victorians along the East Cliff in c1880 – was approximately 20 metres high and 1.2 kilometres long when at its very best in the 1980s. 24,000 m2 in extent.

Now, substantially diminished with gaps where plants have died and not been replaced, the wall is – and I’m guessing here – very approximately a quarter of its former extent. Still 6000 m2 though!

Building Green and the Ecology Consultancy surveys have found 100 species of plant on the wall.

So sorry, National Grid – it appears our green wall is bigger than yours after all!

Madeira Drive A5 leaflet Building Green 1509

Maybe we need to amend the flyer now to say ‘The oldest and longest green wall in Europe!’.