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Curious Metal Box Garden shines light on tranquil ways

A new temporary garden has landed on America Street, part of a project promoting greater use of quieter and more tranquil back streets
Valerie Beirne
Bankside Urban Forest Manager

The Metal Box Garden, Phase 1 of Better Bankside's Clean Air Mini-Neighbourhood, launched on 18th September to coincide with London Design Week 2017.  It comprised an installation of specially commissioned planted skips in America Street.  This temporary installation will highlight how investing in greening the quieter and more tranquil back streets can help support more walking across the neighbourhood. 

The Metal Box Gardens are situated close to the Metal Box Factory, an old Victorian warehouse which used to make decorative tin boxes, and which is now home to over 100 small businesses and restaurants including Hixter Bankside and Caravan Bankside.

Phase 2 of the project will focus on transforming the historic Keppel Row alleyway into a verdant pedestrian thoroughfare linking Southwark Bridge Road and Great Guildford Street.  Award winning architects Gort Scott are leading on the designs, which will further consulted on at an on-street event during the evening of 11th October.

The Clean Air Mini Neighbourhood is working with over 100 businesses in the area of Bankside between Southwark Street and the rail viaduct, and aims to improve the look and feel of some of the quieter routes which crisscross the area to support greater footfall.  The project is also working with businesses to reduce the number of business-related vehicle journeys in the immediate vicinity.

The Mayor of London is funding the Clean Air Mini Neighbourhood with £36,500 through his Mayor’s Air Quality Fund. Since becoming Mayor, Sadiq has more than doubled investment in tackling air quality to £875 million over the next five years. He has also introduced the boldest plans to tackle air pollution in the world, including a £10 toxicity-charge (T-Charge) starting on October 23, the introduction of the world's first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in 2019 (subject to consultation) and the cleaning up of London's public transport fleet we lead the way in ultra-low emission technology.

Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, said: “Through the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund we are supporting businesses and local authorities to take action to cut pollution in their local areas. Better Bankside’s project is a fantastic example of a business group using funding from the Mayor to reduce exposure to pollution, at the same time as encouraging walking and attracting people to local shops”

Kings College London are working with the project team, to evaluate how successful the project is in reducing peoples’ exposure to air pollution.  Better Bankside hopes the Clean Air Mini Neighbourhood project can persuade local workers and visitors to the area to use these quieter tranquil routes with cleaner air.

Andrew Grieve, Senior Air Quality Analyst at King’s College, said: “Better Bankside are working with King’s College London on a groundbreaking new project to better understand where and when pedestrians are being exposed to pollution in the Bankside area. By combining pollution concentration and footfall data the project will, for the first time, give a clearer view of where pedestrians are exposed, allowing Bankside to target interventions more effectively.”

Donald Hyslop, Chairman of Better Bankside, said: “Bankside is a thriving, busy commercial area of London, meaning heavy traffic and elevated levels of air pollution. Our Clean Air Mini Neighbourhood project cannot solve London’s air pollution problems, but it can help residents, office workers and visitors to the area to find quieter back streets with lower levels of air pollution.”

The Clean Air Mini Neighbourhood is supported by Cross River Partnership’s Clean Air Better Business programme and the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund, who together are supporting central London BIDs and boroughs to improve air quality.

Created Sep 25 2017