City of London recycling to be part of riverside refurbishment

Planning permission is in place for a five-storey ‘living wall’ made from recycled drinks cans on the banks of London’s River Thames.

The living wall will form part of the refurbishment of a site at 20 Cousin Lane on the City of London’s embankment and will be made from drinks cans and composted garden waste collected from the recycling bins of City of London residents and businesses.

Commissioned by PSR Agency Limited and due for completion by 2021, the project will be a collaborative effort between planners at the City of London Corporation, waste management company Veolia UK and Red Squirrel Architects.

The artist's render of the 'living wall' in the City of London.

Of the materials to be used for building the wall, around two metric tonnes will be recycled aluminium and 1.5 tonnes will be composted garden waste. The project aims to emphasise the importance of circular economy principles, including the role of recycling in protecting and preserving the environment, as well as to demonstrate how collected recyclables can be repurposed to extend their usable life.

City of London Corporation Planning and Transportation Chair Alastair Moss said: “This innovative, radical project is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when designers and planners work together and think outside the box. I hope its message of a circular economy will influence everyone to recycle more and consider their own impact on the environment.”

Drinks cans that have been recovered at Veolia UK’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Southwark will be used in the construction process. To achieve a unique design, they will be shredded and re-cast by a specialist metal fabricator into latticed modular honeycomb panels. The aluminium panels will then be hung within a grid of recycled steel girders. Compost made from recycled garden waste will be used to plant an extensive wall and planter boxes on the facades of the building.

Director of Red Squirrel Architects Miles Griffies said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that planning permission has been granted for this unique scheme. The close collaboration with the City of London Corporation and Veolia UK has been an interesting and enjoyable process. There are clear and obvious benefits to our urban landscape in adopting circular economy principles, recycling, and urban greening; especially when these culminate to make a great piece of architecture.”

Richard Kirkman, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer of Veolia UK and Ireland, added: “This bold project will remind people of the need to practice sustainable waste behaviours, as well as showcase the unique beauty that can be achieved by turning used items into something new.”