Tag Archives: design

Garden Villages – An opportunity not to be missed

The news that the first ever garden villages have been given government backing is to be cautiously welcomed, however, we need to ensure that these new developments, which have the potential to deliver more than 48,000 homes across England, deliver more than just a solution to the pressing problem of a housing shortage.

While the word ‘garden’ is included in the name, these new developments must amount to more than merely high density housing to solve a single problem. The name ‘garden villages’ certainly conjures up images of picturesque traditional English villages, but we need to remember that greenery very much underpins that images. Hedgerows, shrubbery, trees, ivy-covered walls – these are all staples of that image. So what should the planners and designers be doing to truly deliver something that delivers on this image?

The garden villages will be between 1,500 and 10,000 homes and are part of the government’s commitment to support locally-led development. The soundbite claims the ambition is to ‘make sure this is a country that works for everyone’.

Fourteen new garden villages have been given support and a £6 million fund has been made available over the next two financial years to support the delivery of these projects.

At the same time the government also announced its support for three new garden towns in which alongside the seven garden towns previously announced and the 17 new garden villages have the potential to deliver almost 200,000 new homes. However, the same caution needs to be applied to these towns as well as the garden villages.

The worry is that there is no single model of design needed to be approved for a garden village, other than they should be ‘built to a high quality, be attractive and well designed, and be built as a response to meeting local housing needs, especially for first-time buyers’.

This is worrying vague and without specifics and ideas of ‘high quality, attractive and well-designed’ are purely subjective.

Of course there are simple things that developers and designers can do to ensure these new developments are suitably green to ensure the ‘garden’ aspect of the name does not seem cynical. Instead of fences between properties, living ivy green screens can provide an instant green solution very much in keeping with traditional English villages. They have a very narrow footprint, so even if houses are built close together they take up much less room than a hedge.

Public buildings can also be designed with greenery in mind. While the ivy clad wall is beautiful, it can place a strain on a building. However, the latest developments in living walls offer a solution. Easy to install and maintain, living walls are proving increasingly popular, even in our city centres.

Garden villages and garden towns sound appealing, but to ensure the reality matches the dream, these are the technologies designers need to consider.

Mobilane LivePanel on display to help attract new franchisees at Inleaf

Inleaf, the Manchester-based commercial plants specialist has added a Mobilane LivePanel system and three LivePictures to its showroom to allow the company to better demonstrate their benefits to clients, as well as to other installers interested in becoming Inleaf franchisees.

Founded by husband and wife Daniel and Charlotte Atherton – a qualified Landscape Architect – Inleaf are keen supporters of Mobilane systems and have recently completed the design and installation of a 25m square installation as part of an office refurbishment for a pharmaceutical company in Chester.

“Having the LivePanel and LivePicture at the showroom is useful for demonstrating the systems to clients,” explains Daniel Atherton. “However, Inleaf is a franchise operation and all our franchise events are held at our showrooms, so the LivePanels and LivePictures are useful for educating potential franchisees about the unique products they can offer.”

Daniel and Charlotte set the company up with the aim of becoming a franchise, and created their showroom to allow them to train people. With a long-term goal to have franchisees nationwide, Inleaf will recruit, train and support franchisees, as well as taking the lead on new products such as Mobilane systems.

“We launched in February,” continues Daniel, “And we are getting our first franchisees lined up. The industry is very competitive, but with our franchise opportunity we believe franchisees can become successful. There has been a sea change in the last few years and there is a growing market for living walls. The sense we are getting is there is a lot more awareness, which is largely client-led. For example, the Chester installation was part of the client and architect’s brief. We are seeing this more and more.

“In terms of general plants in the commercial space, we are finding a wide range of companies coming to us for solutions, with clients understanding the wide range of benefits of plants in the work place. However, there is still a job to be done in educating smaller businesses, which is where our demonstration systems at the showroom come in.”


For further information on Mobilane systems visit www.mobilane.co.uk. Follow us on Twitter @Mobilane

For further information on Inleaf and its franchise opportunity visit www.Inleaf.co.uk

LivePanel Living Wall features in Waitrose Greenest Store

When Waitrose opened its Bracknell store at the end of last year it was announced as their greenest yet.  It is a remarkable example of how sustainable and environmental design is truly at the heart of all new developments.  A key feature at this store is one of our beautiful LivePanel Living Walls which, at 49 square metres, is hard to miss when you arrive to do your shopping.

It truly is an array of colour.  The plants chosen to feature in this wall are from a large variety of colourful and variegated plants to ensure that it remains an attractive feature all year round.  Our plants were specially grown off site and delivered ready for the installation so that all in all it took our contractors, Hedera Screens, only 3 days to install on site.

The beauty of our LivePanels is not just in there aesthetic value it is also in that they are extremely flexible in  design and offer extensive environmental benefits.   In terms of scale and size there really are no boundaries and we can create bespoke designs to suit the topography and weather conditions of each site.  We can even build in company logos, choose specific colours and ensure the wall stays green through the winter months.

Historically, there have been issues involved with planting and maintaining living walls however the design and systems we use overcome any failure problems.  Put simply, we use a modular construction system meaning that the panes can be easily adjusted to fit any space.  The sections have a specially developed substrate which is designed to enable the plants to easily establish themselves and thrive.  There is an integrated automated irrigation system which provides the plants with essential water and nutrients to ensure that they are kept in the best condition and mitigates against the human error of forgetting to water them!   The panels are installed onto the face of the building and secured by an aluminium frame.

One of the most advantageous benefits about our LivePanel system is that it is extremely low maintenance leaving it a hassle free addition to help enhance the appearance of buildings.