National Grid’s HQ, National Grid House, on the outskirts of Warwick, within view of the Historic Castle, houses some 2800 staff. It is operational 24 hours a day, every day of the year and is a site which controls and is critical to the power distribution infrastructure in the UK. National Grids commitment to sustainability in all their undertakings has meant that the brief for a new car park on this site would always lead to something extraordinary – with the car park now finished it has literally come alive.
The new car park is a 446 space split level, prefabricated steel framed car park clad in and home to a living wall of 1027 sq.m, making this Europe’s largest. The Living wall is home to over 97,000 plants of over 20 different species.
The plant species have been selected to include predominantly Native and Wildlife friendly species, the majority of which are evergreen to provide coverage all year round. The planting of the green wall incorporates Mentha which is a Mint; and this acts as a deterrent for wasps. There are also plants that attract butterflies, such as Hebe pinguifolia "Pagei", others that provide nectar for Bees (Vinca minor "Bowles Purple") and others that provide good nesting properties and habitual protection for birds in Winter and Early Spring such as Buxussempervirens. The living wall is designed to add both to the ecology and biodiversity of the area but also it will flower and bloom adding colour and variety with the seasons. Fruit bearing plants are included – strawberries for instance.
The living wall is the most visible sustainability measure, others are embedded within the design and include: • utilising existing site levels the car park has been split in cross section to minimise excavation and spoil • it is naturally ventilated • the entire building is lit at night by 558 low energy LED lights controlled by PIR’s • the wall will house bird and insect boxes • porous paving is utilised at ground level • Goldbeck prefabricated superstructure construction, including all steel and concrete elements was erected in 6 weeks with 175 planned ‘just in time’ deliveries.