McArthurGlen’s Designer Outlet in the Kent town of Ashford has announced that work has started on Europe’s largest living wall installation, which forms part of the shopping centre’s £90 million expansion.
Made up of approximately 120,000 plants, the 25,000sq ft feature is designed to create a striking atmosphere in the centre, with vertical gardens covering the walls of a new entry promenade, various walkways and many new stores.
Chichester-based company Biotecture will design, grow and install the £1.5 million living wall, which will make McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford one of the world’s greenest shopping centres.
The thousands of plants required for the project are currently growing in Biotecture’s West Sussex nurseries, ready to be installed at the centre in the coming months. The wall will include leafy greens, background foliage, plus seasonal pops of colour. Some of the plants include fortune spindle, boxleaf honeysuckle and ivy providing year-round coverage and texture, as well as elephant’s ears ‘baby doll’, rose of sharon, heuchera and viola to provide bright hues in shades of pink, purple, lilac, yellow and white.
According to Biotecture, there are several benefits to incorporating plants and green infrastructure within urban environments. It claims living walls are proven to reduce air pollution and aid biodiversity, while meeting sustainability targets.
McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford said the living wall has been designed as part of its commitment to creating ‘the best possible experience for its guests, with a visit to the centre providing an exciting day out with entertainment, dining and relaxation options for the whole family’.
Peter Corr, centre manager of McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford, said: “As south-east England’s leading designer outlet, and just over 30 minutes from London, our centre has seen 18 years of growth and evolution. We welcome over 3.6 million visitors every year and in response to market demand, this autumn we are launching a new phase that will elevate the whole shopping experience for our guests and the retail environment for our brand partners. This spectacular living wall installation is a key feature of this exciting expansion that will attract new shoppers locally, from London and also internationally.”
Construction on the centre’s new 100,000sq ft expansion – its first since opening in 2000 – began last January. The existing 185,000sq ft centre, which has the world’s largest tented retail structure, was designed by the renowned architect Lord Richard Rogers who is famous for the Lloyd’s building in London as well as The O2 Arena.
When the expansion opens later this year, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Ashford will introduce up to 50 new premium and luxury brands. New facilities will include an events space, food piazza, interactive children’s play area and 725 new car parking spaces.