intu Milton Keynes is set to install a dramatic and visually spectacular 'living wall' that will complete and complement its £2.8m car park redevelopment.
The regional shopping centre has been working with internationally renowned company, Biotecture, which specialises in transforming urban sites into 'living and breathing' installations.
Responsible for some of the UK's most iconic living walls, including MTV London, Edgware Road Tube Station, the Walkie Talkie Tower, and Kings Cross, London, Biotecture confirms this is the biggest install of its kind in the region.
Due to be completed in November, intu Milton Keynes's car park entrance and the inner core of its upward ramps will be covered with plants and foliage, creating a stunning visual welcome for shoppers that will also improve the quality of air and produce a habitat for wildlife.
Another significant and increasingly recognised benefit, now supported with comprehensive scientific evidence, is that of 'biophilia', an idea termed by Edward Wilson in 1984. It suggests that when humans are surrounded by plants and nature their mood is improved, they are overall less stressed and in general their wellbeing is improved. Wilson himself explained Biophilia as: "the idea that humans possess a biological inclination to affiliate with natural systems instrumental to their health" (Wilson, 1984) He went on to say that "the mere insertion of plants into the built environment can enhance comfort, satisfaction, wellbeing and performance" (Kellert, et al., 2008).
Shelley Peppard general manager at intu Milton Keynes adds: "Plants have a natural calming effect on people and, as the walls establish themselves, we expect wildlife to make this their home as it has in Biotecture's other locations. We hope it will become an attraction for people to visit us and show why Milton Keynes is unique and a great place to live and work.
"Milton Keynes is often wrongly associated with concrete and having no soul, which is why we are bringing one of the busiest parts of the city centre to life with a living and breathing wall."
intu Milton Keynes has invested £2.8m to completely redevelop its multi-storey car park, which is due to be fully completed by the time the living wall is installed. Works have included laying a completely new floor, better marked spaces, easier to follow wayfinding for cars and pedestrians, clearly marked walkways around the car park, a brighter look and feel - and, soon to be added, more electric vehicle bays - an extra 12 in total.
Shelley adds, "We attract visitors from all over the world and we want to show them what an incredible forward-thinking city Milton Keynes is. The living walls will look beautiful and has additional benefits to the well-being of our customers and those that work here."
"We are really pleased to be working with intu Milton Keynes on this green infrastructure project. The combination of living walls to the entrance and climbing plants adorning the ramps is the first of its kind on any car park that we are aware of. We are sure that the green installations will help to create a fresh, vibrant and unique car park experience!" Said Richard Sabin, managing director at Biotecture.
Living walls are known to act as green corridors through cities, creating a network of green spaces that enable wildlife, like butterflies and honey bees to survive and thrive in the urban environment.
At present, intu Milton Keynes' plants are growing in a nursery in West Sussex and getting ready for installation. The walls will be maintained throughout the year by Biotecture's team to ensure all plants are healthy.
Photograph shown is not of intu MK.