Rhubarb goes green


The green wall at Rhubarb, in Digbeth


As pressure mounts on companies to be more sustainable, a Birmingham property developer has taken an innovative approach to further its ‘green’ credentials.

Blok Properties has installed a ‘green wall’ at its new office scheme, on Heath Mill Lane, in Digbeth, called Rhubarb.

The 39 ft high by 8 ft wide wall, which is fixed to the side of the building, is the first to be installed in Birmingham city centre.

Green walls, also known as ‘living walls’, are a relatively new idea but are growing in popularity as a means of enhancing a building’s environmental and aesthetic qualities, particularly in urban areas.

The wall was supplied and installed by Aldingbourne Nurseries. It is constructed from modular panels, made from recycled polypropylene, a rainwater harvesting and automatic irrigation system, and a growing compound and vegetation, all of which are assembled and planted at Aldingbourne Nurseries in West Sussex.  The planted and established modules are then brought to the project site, creating an immediate visual impact when the wall was erected.

It is Aldingbourne’s second project in the Midlands. The company is also responsible for the 40 metre living wall recently installed at the LG Arena at the National Exhibition Centre.

As well as being a design feature, the living wall will provide environmental benefits. The Rhubarb green wall will absorb carbon dioxide, thereby reducing pollution and greatly improving local air quality.

Piers Harding, a director of Blok Properties, said: “From the outset we wanted to create a development using both sustainable methods and materials, and wherever possible we have stuck to it. The green wall was a feature we were always keen to have to both represent the ethos behind Rhubarb and provide a striking visual impact in the immediate vicinity.

“In high-density urban areas it is important that we try to reintroduce more greenery and living walls are the perfect way to do this as they can be installed virtually anywhere. Hopefully other developers will follow our lead and we’ll start seeing more and more green walls on buildings in the city.”     

Steve McIntyre, senior partner at Aldingbourne Nurseries, said: “The plants on the Rhubarb wall, which include Heuchera, Armeria Maritima, Vincas, Festuca, amongst many others, were selected to give colour all year round. They will enhance the local atmosphere and create interest for occupiers of the building, visitors and passers by.”

Rhubarb is Blok Properties’ first office development in Birmingham.  The building, which has been designed by local architects Bryant Priest Newman, comprises 15 self-contained office studios, ranging from 360 sq ft to 860 sq ft, arranged over five floors.

An interior shot of the offices at Rhubarb

Each studio has its own cloakroom facilities and fully equipped kitchen, low-energy heating and cooling system, floor to ceiling windows, contemporary lighting, and intercom entry. The building also has lift access, some on-site car parking and is DDA compliant. Occupiers should benefit from reduced running costs due to the building’s low energy use.

Work commenced on the £2.4 million scheme last year and the building is available for occupation from October.

All studios are available to buy from £89,000, or to rent from £495 per month.

Savills and Wareing & Company are marketing the development.  


For further information about Rhubarb contact Mark Thompson at Wareing & Company, 01926 430700, or Jonathan Ottewell at Savills, 0121 634 8419.


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