The Mailbox is the UK’s largest mixed-use building and home to well-known brands such as Malmaison, Ramada hotels and Harvey Nichols. Located within Birmingham’s city centre, being mindful of the surrounding environment was a key consideration and resulted in the specification of ANS Global’s living wall. Six years later and the living wall, which surrounds Cote Brasserie’s outdoor terrace, looks just as healthy as when it was first installed.
A living wall can create a relaxing retail environment and add a touch of eco-luxury to hotels, restaurants and other leisure venues. The 60m2 wall of multiple plant species was therefore a great way to complement high-end brands at the Mailbox.
Associated Architects worked closely with the design team at ANS Global to specify the living wall for the Mailbox. The wall couples aesthetics with sustainable and environmental architecture.
The Mailbox is also an excellent example of the longevity of living walls. Having taken advantage of ANS Global’s maintenance contract, the results are long lasting. This is self-evident as the wall was installed six years ago and is still very healthy. As part of the maintenance, ANS’ team made minor adjustments to the species of plants as they learned which species thrived in the environment surrounding the Birmingham location.
Living walls can dramatically enhance their surroundings and, with design options being endless, each wall can be unique to its application. As long as there is wall space available, vertical gardens can be created pretty much anywhere. They also help to protect exterior walls from weather damage and corrosion, providing further longevity for the space and ultimately reducing life cycle costs for the building owners.
Furthermore, the benefits can be seen for the customers, too. Visitors to the Mailbox have been given the opportunity to take a break from retail therapy to engage in horticultural therapy; the living wall allows shoppers to get closer to nature within an urban environment.
Scott Anderson, Sales Director at ANS Global, commented on what projects like these have meant for living walls within the retail sector, saying, “Businesses are becoming increasingly assessed on their commitment to sustainability. Living walls reduce a building’s overall carbon footprint and are a great visual demonstration of their positive contribution to the environment. For those located within an urban environment, such as the Mailbox, the pressure may be even higher due to pollution created by nearby airports or car combustion.
“The living walls provide complex eco habitats that encourage biodiversity and provide a haven for many forms of wildlife. A standard living wall comprises a carefully selected combination of plant species creating a sustainable environment for many creatures; and importantly, much needed extra habitat for urban wildlife. As such, the market has been growing, with more retail companies opting to give back to the environment in a similar way to the Mailbox.”
Case Study Location
The living wall – surrounding Cote Brasserie’s outdoor terrace – is a fantastic addition to the Mailbox’s bustling canalside area. The natural lush greenery perfectly complements the urban backdrop of the Mailbox and offers visitors an oasis of calm in a busy city centre. ANS Global was great to work with – the team understood our vision and requirements from the offset and met these with enthusiasm and top quality service. - David Pardoe, head of marketing, retail and tenant engagement at the Mailbox