Greening the Riverside / № 1 Jamaica St
Client/ The Riverside Group - 2011
№ 1 Jamaica Street is a large supported housing temporary shelter managed by The Riverside Group. Over a hundred vulnerable people live at the shelter at any one time, ranging from people with mental health issues, alcohol/drug problems, and homelessness. The premise was a hard, echoey and faceless environment. Our mission: to make the shelter a healthier, happier and more beautiful place that creates an opportunity for residents to learn about growing and looking after plants.
The project set about creating an edible and biodiverse landscape around the outside of the building. To achieve this a week in the wood workshop was necessary to construct the custom made planters, along with the delivery of 12 tonnes of soil. We planted fruit trees, fruit bushes and herbs along with two majestic birch trees to provide the residents with a sense of pride of place, as well as the possibility of enjoying fruit through the summer and autumn. The roof terrace was converted into a haven of possibilities for the residents to grow vegetables and edible herbs such as chamomile.
The interior presented another opportunity to use plants to create fresh air. Many of the plants used have significant capacities to remove indoor airborne contaminants. We also played with the idea of sensory memory gardening. A number of residents have significant memory issues, which contributes to disorientation in a large building with too many stairs and corridors to navigate through. So our idea was to use differently scented geraniums on each of the 3 floors so that when residents rub or brush the plant, they can locate which floor they are on. Many of the plants used are also easy to propagate, so that when residents express an interest in learning about plants they can be taught how to propagate plants and then take the plantlets to be looked after in their private rooms.