Read: 5-6 Min
Chiswick Oasis - Letting London Breathe
Two years ago St Mary’s RC Primary School in Chiswick was audited by the Mayor’s Office among the 50 most polluted schools in London. A recent survey by the Times put it on top of the list of the most polluted schools in the whole of Hounslow.
In 2018 a group of parents set out to change all that and turn it into one of the greenest by building a green infrastructure in St Mary’s playground along the brick wall that separates the school to the A4 (with a flow of at least 80,000 vehicles a day).
THE GRAND OPENING OF A NEW LIVING WALL
Crowdfunded on Spacehive the campaign reached over 300 backers and received messages of support from celebrities including Emma Thompson, Jeremy Paxman and Claudia Winkleman - to name a few. The campaign met its target and raised over £75,000 with great support from the Mayor of London who pledged £32,000 as part of their bid to support projects by London boroughs to improve air quality.
Saturday 29th June 2019 saw the Grand Opening of the school's Living Wall. Celebrated with a day of festivities and fundraising, the newly installed wall at Chiswick Oasis was unveiled by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan with support from local MP's Ron Mushiso and Ruth Cadbury, Councillor Steve Curran and Mayor of Hounslow Tony Louki.
The event was attended by hundreds of people: parents, local residents who came to see the Green Wall in full glory and learn about the efforts the school is employing to improve the air quality both inside the building as well as outside - including the use of an innovative air-purifying paint from Airlite in their dining hall and playground.
THE 400 ft LIVING WALL
Working with a team of specialists the 400ft living wall was planted with 12,000 plants, acting as a green barrier to the pollution from the busy A4 that runs alongside the playground.
Key Benefits for Living Wall
- Reduces urban heat island effect and smog
- Cleans outside air of pollutants and dust and offsets the carbon footprint of people and fuel emissions
- Cleans interior air space by removing VOCs and other harmful toxins like benzene and formaldehyde
- Acts as a sound proofing barrier
- Soil and plants are a natural filter that can clean the water that flows through the wall.
The project was executed by Arup UKIMEA whose experts provided landscape architecture and ecology advice for the new green wall in conjunction with ANS Group Global, a leading provider of living walls, moss art and green roofs.
PIPÉT x AIRLITE AIR PURIFYING MURAL
In addition to the green Living Wall, parents seized the opportunity to further tackle air pollution in the playground by decorating a stretch of bare brick wall with a special air-purifying paint.
I was delighted to be asked by London architect Joanna Hoehenwarter - a parent and member of Chiswick Oasis - to design a special mural which was to be painted by the children, parents and visitors (including guest of honour the Mayor of London) at the Grand Opening.
Having selected our Tropical Madura print, I set about designing the artwork with a positive focus on nature, including a number of large butterflies and flowers. My hope is that the cleaner air and lush neighbouring living wall will encourage the natural habitat to thrive, bringing more wildlife to the area!
Here's a few images of the design in work...
The available colour palette for the project.
Ensuring the design balances by replacing the colours in the original artwork like-for-like where possible.
The existing Madura design has been adapted to create movement and depth, which involved changing and modifying each individual element within the mural.
Recolouring the design and working in vectors to scale up the artwork for the 16m wall. Keeping the bold outlines was essential for colouring in by the community.
The final digital design and colour spec that was presented to Chiswick Oasis. A slightly different colour scheme than I'm used to, but great challenge to work within an available range of colours - Courtesy of Airlite UK
"A simple 1m2 of painted wall will clean the air as effectively as a large mature tree". Airlite
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Teaming up with Airlite UK, the 16m long tropical wall not only provides a space to inject some colour into the playground, but uses a special air-purifying paint that neutralises and reduces pollutants in the atmosphere around us. Airlite UK Paint specialists Greg and Chris were on hand during the day to help mix the paint whilst educating children, parents and visitors about the benefits of Airlite paint to reduce the effects of air pollution.
Activated by light, Airlite eliminates major airborne pollutants (including Nitrate oxides, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, dichloromethane, benzene), prevents the growth of bacteria and moulds, eliminates bad odours and prevents dirt and dust from attracting to walls.
"When applied as a simple paint, indoors and outdoors, it interacts with the surrounding environment by simulating the air purification processes of nature itself. When triggered by light, it generates the same negative ions developed during a storm and turns pollution and smog particles into hydro-soluble mineral salts in a 100% natural way". Airlite
According to Airlite, a simple 1m2 of painted wall will clean the air effectively as a large mature tree. At approx 35m2 that makes our wall the equivalent to 35 mature trees. That's pretty impressive for a paint. We hope this will contribute to making your playground a cleaner and brighter place to play!
Find out more about the innovative paint that's purifying the air at St. Mary's School here: Airlite UK
Below are some photos of our 16m air-purifying wall in progress. Coloured in full after just one very hot and sunny day of painting. Fantastic efforts and great help from all the children, visitors and I was delighted to meet the Mayor of London who helped us paint...
Here's Mike, a parent and member of Chiswick Oasis, drawing up the design outlines ready to be painted at the opening day.
Thanks for such a great job Mike and Joanna!
Airlite UK paint specialist Greg mixing up the next colour ready to paint.
With a paint life of 3 hours from preparing, we had to work fast in the hot sun!
Marking out the colour guide ready for painting.
Children and adults of all ages joined in and had a great day participating in painting the mural.
Thank you, Sadiq Khan for helping paint our 16m air purifying mural and supporting the amazing Chiswick Oasis campaign. Here's to making St Mary's Catholic Primary School a greener and cleaner place for all involved.
Designer Gina Pipét with Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (above) and Ruth Cadbury, local MP for Brentford and Isleworth.
So important to have such great support from where it counts and raise awareness to be able to make a real difference. 🙏🏻
The finishing touch!
Loved how vibrant this looked on the brick wall. Airlite painted up beautifully and has no harmful odours.
🌿🍃🌱Huge respect to all the dedicated parents, supporters and fundraisers who have made the green Living Wall possible. 🌿🍃🌱
St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Chiswick are continuing to further the campaign by installing Air purifiers inside each classrooms and well as planting more trees around the premises.
If you'd like to find out more or support their campaign visit Chiswick Oasis: https://www.
Thank you Chiswick Oasis for inviting us to be part of your campaign and work on such a great project.