Luscious foliage sprouts up in London's backstreets under the shadow of The Shard
As London prepares itself for the official inauguration of The Shard next Thursday (5 July), in a quiet laneway between offices and residential units, a young Australian architect and a local landscape designer have been injecting a little greenery. Andrew Burns and Sarah Eberle have transformed a narrow cut-through into a flourishing green passageway called Gibbon’s Rent with help from members of the local community.
Landscape designer Sarah Eberle blended a variety of foliage textures in large pots, interspersed with slim trees for an undulating visual effect. Residents from the surrounding area, local schools and representatives from nearby businesses were invited to attend planting sessions, each bringing a pot for the scheme, which was recently used as the opening event for the London Architecture Festival.
“This project is a small but very powerful lesson about how to build real community,” says Burns. “Particularly in urban areas, people are hungry for the connectedness that nature represents. What we have done is create a clear structure or geometry - we call it a harlequin - which then provides the opportunity for the community to engage with and embellish the geometry, and to complete the scheme. I see this ‘strategy of incompleteness’ - this invitation to the community to engage with and complete the project - as critical. It is something that is most often overlooked by councils and property developers.”
85m in length, the plan is to continue the development of the passageway over time with the ribbon of green becoming a community garden and vibrant social space. Burns and Eberle have completely revitalised this formally-neglected strip of land and brought the community together in a productive and sustainable fashion. This project has been made possible through the generous support of Team London Bridge, Southwark Council, The Peter De Haan Charitable Trust, NSW Architects Registration Board, and Farebrother Chartered Surveyors.