Living wall helps London school fight against air pollution

A living wall breathes new life into a London primary school, with over £90,000 raised by parents to improve air quality for children

A group of parents at a London primary school have taken the issue of air pollution into their own hands. They have successfully crowdfunded more than £90,000 to install a living wall in the playground of St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Chiswick. Featuring over 12,000 plants, the living wall was officially opened by London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who also pledged £32,000 to the Chiswick Oasis project.

Living wall improves air quality

Bringing an old, rarely used space back to life, the 126m living wall, located in the school’s playground and running alongside the A4 – a major six lane road – aims to reduce air pollutants and improve air quality, after surveys revealed the schools is among the 50 most polluted schools in London. The project has received support from the local community, businesses, parents and celebrities, including Jeremy Paxman, Emma Thompson and Claudia Winkleman.

Receiving funding from the London Mayor’s ‘Crowdfund London’ programme, Sadiq Khan, attended the school’s launch event to officially open the living wall. He also used it as an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of improving urban air quality, as well as the value of community projects like Chiswick Oasis, which help to create positive change.

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who also pledged £32,000 to the Chiswick Oasis project.

He said:  “I am delighted to officially open the ‘Chiswick Oasis’ for the community who have done so much to bring this project to life.

“Our toxic air is a public health crisis that increases the risk of dementia and asthma and damages the lung development of our children. I’m doing all I can to tackle it but I can’t succeed without the support of my fellow Londoners. ‘Chiswick Oasis’ is a brilliant example of what can be achieved when communities work together to find innovative solutions to local problems and exactly the sort of project OUR Crowdfund London initiative was set up to support.”  

Air purifying qualities

With proven air purifying qualities and featuring thousands of plants found in the local area, the living wall was provided by world-leading living wall supplier, ANS Global, which will be maintaining the wall for free for the next five years. Set to improve air quality for pupils at the school and transforming the neglected playground area, the new green space will also be open to the public, as well as playing host to future community events, including markets and fairs.

ANS Global has also provided training to teachers and parents at the school, teaching them about how the living wall works, as well as how to maintain the feature so it continues to thrive. Supporters from the local community also had the opportunity to plant their own piece of the living wall at the launch event. It is hoped in the future that children will also be able to use the living wall to learn about nature and biodiversity as part of their curriculum.

Plants to tackle cleaner air

The Chiswick Oasis Project was launched by parents in 2018, with the aim of creating cleaner, greener air at St Mary’s, with the team also tackling indoor air quality by adding more plants, painting the school’s ground floor in air purifying paint and installing air purifiers. As well as launching a ‘No Car Friday’ initiative, the school plans to also create an edible vegetable garden. Crowdfunding efforts are also continuing with hopes to extend the living wall even further, to cover the whole playground.

Andrea Carnevali, a parent from St Mary’s and the man behind the “Chiswick Oasis” project says: “We are not just transforming one of the most polluted schools in London into one of the greenest, but I’d like to think that we’re also creating a model for all the other schools to be inspired by and to follow.”

Steve McIntyre, Urban Environment Consultant, ANS Global says: “It is fantastic to be involved in the St Mary’s Chiswick Oasis project, which addresses the very important issue of improving air quality in urban environments. Specifically designed to thrive for the long term, and requiring minimal maintenance, the wall features thousands of plants indigenous to the area that have been carefully selected to not only clean the air, but also support biodiversity and local wildlife, while also being an interactive learning tool for the children.

Catalyst to create more living walls

“Research has shown that just one square metre of vegetation can provide enough oxygen for a person for a year, which demonstrates the true power of plants in our environment. We hope that Chiswick Oasis is the catalyst for more schools to learn about living walls, which have the power to transform urban spaces, while making a positive and measurable impact on people’s lives.”

To donate or to find out more about the Chiswick Oasis project visit:

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