Tallest living wall in England pops up in Newcastle's Science Central

Vertical living wall on The Core building in Newcastle Science Central includes ivy, seagrass, thyme - and edible wild strawberries

Living wall at new Science Central building
Living wall at new Science Central building

The tallest living wall in England - complete with wild strawberries - has been installed on the side of a new North East science hub.

The 26m-high green construction is now in place on The Core building at Newcastle’s Science Central complex, creating a vertical garden of ivies, seagrass, thyme, primulas, euphorbia and wildlife nests.

Measuring 366sq m in area and containing more than 35,000 plants, the wall was constructed by Sussex firm ANS Group Europe as part of plans by Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council to make the site, which used to be home to the Scottish and Newcastle brewery, a world-leading example of urban sustainability.

The Core will be the first building to open at Science Central this autumn, with a university research centre, homes for hi-tech businesses, flats and houses and leisure facilities expected to follow on the site over the next two decades, while public open spaces are being completed now.

Nick Feest, installation manager for ANS, explained that the wall was put together by building rails on the side of the building onto which boxes of 12 plants - previously grown in the company’s nurseries - were slotted, before being linked into an irrigation system.

He said: “The biggest challenge in Newcastle was the height, as it is the tallest in the country. We did it all in a 29-tonne scissor lift.

Living wall at new Science Central building
Living wall at new Science Central building

“It is all installed and now we are just waiting for the building to open. It took a team of four two weeks from putting in the first rail to the last plant, and we worked long hours to get it done in time but the weather was kind.”

He added: “The reaction we usually get to these living walls and that people have never seen anything like them before. It is unusual and this is the first we have done this far north.

“It attracts a huge amount of wildlife, particularly insects and smaller birds, which is a very positive thing and this year people might even be able to pick strawberries.”

The wall will require two major horticultural check-ups each year, along with smaller-scale maintenance during the year.

Science Central buildings will also feature planted sedum roofs, rainwater harvesting and low energy LED lighting to promote sustainability.

Once The Core opens, the whole of the 24-acre site will be open to the public, connecting the Newcastle’s West End directly to the city centre once more.

One North East, the city council and Newcastle University jointly acquired the site in 2006 to bring forward £255m worth of investment over the next two decades. However, the university and council leaders were forced to spend another £3m to take control of the project when the Government scrapped the regional development agency, which had a one-third share worth £8m in the overall scheme.

Science Central chiefs are holding a community event on Wednesday, July 16, from 5.30pm to 7pm at Murray House Community Centre in Diana Street for members of the public to hear about the latest news.


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