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Chichester-based BALI Registered Contractor Biotecture has started work on what will be the UK’s largest hydroponic, sustainable, living wall project – the living wall is playing an integral part in the huge 9,000 sqm expansion and development of the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in Ashford, Kent.

Construction started in February with the first fix works on two of the retail blocks. This includes irrigation, boarding, guttering and generally making the vertical surfaces ready for the attachment of the planted panels.  The first two retail and dining blocks are due to open in May 2019, with the official opening of the £90 million expansion of the Ashford outlet planned for Autumn 2019.

Over 2,000 sqm of hydroponic vertical green wall are being designed, grown and installed by Biotecture for 11 elevations throughout the Ashford retail expansion project. The living walls, varying in height from four to nine metres, are made up of approximately 120,000 plants and will create a stunning entry promenade, various walkways, as well as cover many of the 50 new stores across three new retail blocks, making it one of the greenest shopping centres globally. With a total length throughout the shopping outlet of approximately 650 linear metres of Biotecture living wall, this equates to the length of 60 double-decker buses.

Richard Sabin, Biotecture's managing director, said of the project;

This is a fabulous project.  We are working with the main contractor McLaren, and landscape architects Applied Landscape Design, to deliver the £1 million green wall contract and have taken on additional nursery space to accommodate the 8,000 or so hydroponic growing panels.

The thousands of plants required for the Ashford Designer Outlet are currently growing in Biotecture’s West Sussex nurseries. They include background plants such as Euonymus fortunei Dart’s Blanket, Lonicera nitida Maigrun, Hedera helix Shamrock providing year-round coverage and texture, as well as Bergenia ‘Baby Doll’, Hypericum calycinum, Heuchera Marmalade and Viola to provide local, seasonal colour and interest, making each block of shops unique.

The living walls are designed, installed and maintained by Biotecture who use their own patented, hydroponic system invented by the founders of the company. This unique growing and irrigation design remains the most flexible and resilient of any fully comprehensive living wall system.

Biotecture design, supply, install and maintain sustainable living walls and green infrastructure, and provide full aftercare. The green infrastructure can be external or internal. Larger scale projects include corporate offices, airports, universities, car parks, hospitality and leisure. Smaller scale green screens and spaces are also been provided by Biotecture for use in retail outlets, hospitals, schools, residential courtyards or roof gardens.  A selection of case studies and technical information is available for download on their website.

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