Wednesday walls – green walls from plastic bottles…

Today on Wednesday walls we are looking at a little bit of guerrilla gardening, with this fantastic pop up wall garden, which was installed at a home by Brazilian design studio Rosenbaum to help the underprivileged family gain direct access to food and medicinal herbs.

Brazilian design studio Rosenbaum created this hanging garden of recycled plastic bottles to help an underprivileged family with limited space in Sao Paulo live more sustainably. The old bottles were strung together and planted with flowers, spices and medicinal herbs.

We love this idea – we have written before about gutter gardening, which takes a similar form as this, but what we particularly love is the very low tech nature of this design and installation. Using locally sourced, waste 2ltr drinks bottles, the new installation is very simply constructed using suspended steel cables attached to the wall, which means that if any get broken, it is easy – and cheap to replace them.

As far as green walling goes, this is about as low tech as it gets, but the vital part is that the installation is completely suitable for the location, which is key to a great design intervention. Site, and client specific.

A wonderful, simple project that will create a real difference to the family, promote recycling and provide fresh food. And the best thing? It can be easily replicated…

(image via Innocent Facebook)

Monday musings – the new start of grow your own…

It appears as though we have been rather blessed with an early and sudden start to a hot spring. It has literally snuck up on us all, but wandering into the garden last week, we discovered that everything has woken up and is growing at the rate of knots. We also visited two different garden centres over the weekend – one to look at trees for a client and one to pick up a few seeds. Both were rammed.

grow your own

But we also spotted something very interesting. On both trips, in both the larger nursery and the standard DIY shed garden centre, there was a much bigger area given over to edible growing than ever before. Grow your own has taken over. 

Edible hedging, strips of vegetable seedlings, canes of berries, fruit trees of all sizes and a huge variety of seeds were there – and were very, very popular indeed. At one point we stood and watched as the traditional bedding plant area was pretty much bare of shoppers, but the fruit tree area could barely hold anyone else.

And we were part of the throng, purchasing violas (edible), bean seeds and a few extra varieties of mint. We also selected the trees we will be using in one of our schemes for our clients – a mix of apples, pears and a mulberry. We might even sneak in an almond.

So, for today, we really are having a bit of a musing. The mistrust of where our food comes from, plus the general increased interest in growing your own has filtered down to the DIY sheds who are fulfilling our desires for simple, semi self sufficiency with a bigger than ever range of grow your own products.

Which in our eyes, can only be a good thing. 

(image by claire potter)

SPOTTED – the first sweet violets of the year. Get foraging…

So. It appears that spring has sprung. For a bit anyway. With the sudden sun, the ground has started to warm up and both the plants and weeds alike are showing a burst of life. There is a reason that we get rather excited about this – the sun starts the main bulk of the foraging season and one of the first plants that you can find are out and about now. Sweet violets, or viola odorata.

sweet violets

We are very lucky as near our studio we have a huge bank of violets within a tiny walking distance – and the thing is, we are based not in the country, but slap bang on the edges of Brighton.

There is a bit of a misconception that foraging can only occur if you are in the wilds of the countryside, or at least near to the edges of the urban sprawl. In fact, it is often harder to find stuff within a close vicinity of the next, with the city and town environment providing far richer pickings. This is why we are starting to lead Edible City foraging walks in and around Brighton (email us for details).

violas

But, back to the sweet violet. These are now in full bloom and should be available near you now. As well as the arresting violet colour, they are accompanied by a strong and arresting perfume. Smaller than the violas that you get in the garden centre, these beautiful plants reside on sunny banks, often in huge numbers.

As with all foraging – be respectful, don’t ever pick any more than you need, ask permission and never dig anything up. But a few flowers to scatter on a chocolate cake or to perfume a canister of sugar will add a wealth of the incredible sweet violet flavour to your baking… think a wholly natural parma violet sweet and you are there..

(photos by claire potter)

the edible city – window shades with integrated growing

Even though lots of us like to eat local, seasonal and fresh, not a lot of us have either the time or the space to grow our own food. Inner city allotments are harder to find (and take up lots of time) and many of us do not have the option of outdoor space at all – especially if we live in apartments or flats. But, fortunately, there are lots of designers who are thinking about how we can tackle this issue with innovative products – and we were delighted when we discovered the Herbow concept by Hsu Hao-Po, Chang Yu-Hui & Chang Chung-Wei – a window shade with integrated growing.

Acting as both as a sun shade and adjustable rain screen, the Herbow is a series of window shades with integrated growing for a few plants to take advantage of the space and resources at hand.

Even though this product is only a concept, there is a definite need for this kind of joined up thinking – solving a few problems with a single product and allowing us to be closer to the production of our food.

(images via Yanko Design)

Monday Musings – a concept for the markets of the future?

With the rise in both our wider interest in the origins of our food and our desire for easy, seasonal consumption, it is no real wonder that farmers markets, pop up food stalls and street dining have exploded over recent years. However – the static market – even if it just inhabits one street per week, can result in an infrastructure nightmare, with road closures, a limited amount of visitors local to the area and the rubbish generated at the end of the day.

La Petite Ceinture market, traveling markets, train market Paris,

But what could be the answer? A recent proposal submitted to the 2013 M.ART Opengap Competition seeks to address these issues with a market that travels along the decommissioned or underused rail lines in Paris.

La Petite Ceinture by Amílcar Ferreira and Marcelo Fernandes refocusses the concept of the market as a commercial space by organising it into a series of inhabited carriages which can literally pop up in various areas of the city for periods of time, benefiting not only a wider audience but also cutting out set up and shut down times.

The proposed project creates an interesting mix between local and tourist needs whilst also creating a travelling ‘event’ for the city. It also aims to rehabilitate the Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture (which translates into ‘the little belt railway) in Paris, which previously ran between the walls of the city.

If built, we think that this concept would be a very interesting development in the advancement of what we deem to be sustainable retail, as well as beginning to redefine what we think of as temporary, pop-up happenings within our city.

The High Line has used decommissioned rail structures in New York as an innovative public landscape area, but could areas such as these be re-enlivened with markets and travelling retail experiences?

We can only wait to see.

(image via inhabitat)

2014 trends – internal planting gets a boost

We have been watching this one for a while – and participating in it too… the rise of internal planting. Gone are the days of the office with the overgrown cheese plant festering in the corner. Internal planting now entails green walls, lushly planted swathes of greenery in massed oversized planters – even internal planting that hangs from the ceiling.

Threshold 2013. Architecture and Interior Photography by Jim Stephenson

And we predict that the sort of installations that we have been seeing in the offices, studios and retail spaces of late will migrate across to domestic settings on a smaller scale.

As we spoke about with the steampunk trend earlier this week, this is part down to the fact that we are seeing the inclusion of internal planting increasingly in the commercial spaces we are inhabiting, but it is also because manufacturers are beginning to create products suitable for a wider range of applications.

One of our favourite – and one that we used in two projects in 2013 was the wonderful Sky Planter by Boskke (as seen above in our Edible Office installation for Love Architecture Week 2013). An upside down planter with integrated water reservoir, the recycled plastic pot hangs from a braided steel cable and provides a very interesting way to display your plants. Internal planting is not limited to the ‘house plant’ displays of old and there are actually lots of plants, including orchids and even herbs that grow very well in this orientation.

But a post on the increase of the internal planting trend would not be complete without a few words on the iconic green wall.

Whilst the large scale, self watering systems that you see in commercial settings are very, very highly engineered beasts, there are a few options which are far down the complexity scale and give a generally similar aesthetic.

One such option is the Woolly Pocket system, which, in a similar way to the Boskke Sky Planter, integrates a water reservoir to not only cut down on the chore of watering, but provides a clean and neat way to support your plants. Choose plants that cascade naturally (such as spider plants, ivy or drooping ferns) and you can create an opulent feature for relatively little cash. Or herbs in a kitchen? Free up space on the windowcill and do a spot of internal planting on your walls instead.

So, we think that 2014 will be the year that we all get a little greener. In a different way.

(images by Jim Stephenson and Woolly Planters)

2013 recap – November – foraging in the city…

Nearly at the end of our 2013 recap now, so we are posting over the weekend as a special, bunper edition of the Ecospot (and so we can start afresh with goodies next week). Lots of you are probably aware that as well as spacial design and products we are involved in landscape design – with a bit of an obsession with city foraging…

A  few weeks go, I did a talk at Brighton Pecha Kucha 2013 – all about the personal mapping that can grow around the act of foraging, and especially urban foraging. We all have our personal maps of our bus routes, places we love to shop, drink coffee etc, but these tend to stay static throughout the year. If you start to see the opportunity around you within your city – linking into the free, seasonal food that is around you, then that personal map can be enriched.

And now you can see the video of the slides and my talk here…the Edible City

After the talk (which I thoroughly enjoyed) I was approached by two lovely German journalists and bloggers, Dirk and Susanne, who were interested in the whole urban foraging experience.

Could I take them foraging in our beautiful city of Brighton and Hove? Sure I could.

Brighton_Claire_Busch_pushreset

And they did a little video about our trip too, which you can see here… (oh, and we were foraging, not foresting – a bit got lost in translation I think!)

Overall, a lovely little pairing of urban foraging activities. And stay tuned for our very special speedy spiced wild apple cider recipe later this week…

(photo by Dirk and Susanne of push:reset)

december design wish list day 6 – the whisky advent calendar

Ok. We know it is already 12th December (eeesh – where has this month gone?), but after finding this, we could not help but put it on our wish list. The whisky advent calendar.

Whisky Advent Calendar

We are all quite used to opening a door on an advent calendar and finding a tiny chocolate, but how about opening a door and finding a tiny tot of whisky?

Perhaps not one for first thing in the morning, but each of the individual, 3cl bottles of globally produced whisky would be a perfect way to count down the days to Christmas each evening.

Beautiful. 

At £149 it is slightly more indulgent than the half price chocolate one that is currently languishing on the shelves of the local supermarket, but really, the whisky advent calendar is far more preferable.

(image via Master of Malt)

December design wish list day 4 – choosing the right Christmas tree

If you have not got your tree already, we are sure it is on the list of ‘things to do’ this weekend. But before you rush out to the nearest place to choose your Christmas tree, we would urge you to take a look at the little guide we wrote for EggMag…

tree 2

So, no excuses people. 

(image by claire potter)

SPOTTED – the studio’s special speedy spiced seven day scrumped cider

Today we are revealing a secret. A very special secret too. The recipe for our (famed) cider which has been responsible for many an interesting night. It is quick, delicious and pretty much free – especially if you can take advantage of the kilos of free apples that are currently weighing down our hedgerows.

It is the studio special speedy spiced seven day scrumped cider.

seven day speedy cider

Now, we cannot actually lay full claim to this recipe as it was based on one found in an ancient book, but we can safely say it is the easiest way to create a rather tasty cider in record time with hardly any equipment.

To create around 8 litres of cider you will need:

one clean 12 litre bucket                                                                                                      2kg sugar                                                                                                                             3kg apples – wild, foraged apples if you can as they are *free*                                              8 litres water                                                                                                                       5cm fresh ginger                                                                                                                     a few cinnamon sticks                                                                                                            5 lemons – juice and peel                                                                                                        a blender

First off – scrub the bucket with hot soapy water, rinse and allow to drain. Then, tip all of the sugar into the bucket. Take the apples, pull out the stalk, then chop into half, then half again. There is no need to take out the core. Stick a couple of handfuls into the blender with 500ml of cold water (part of the overall 8 litres), then blend to a rough pulp. Chuck it into the bucket on top of the sugar. Repeat with all the apples, taking note of how much water you use overall. Once all the apples have been blended, add to the bucket any water that still remains of your overall 8 litres.

apples 2

 

Stir the contents of the bucket slowly yet thoroughly, dissolving the sugar sitting at the bottom. Throw in the spices and the lemon juice and peel, cover with a clean cloth then sit it in a cool place. Each morning and evening for a week, uncover and stir well (it will discolour like the picture above – this is fine), then on the 8th day, sieve out the apple pulp and store in clean plastic bottles.

The cider can be drunk straight away, but is better if it ages for a month or so. It is even better hot.

But don’t ask us how alcoholic it is. We have no idea, but based on our own experience we would say quite. It is also quite delicious, so why not take advantage of the incredible apple harvest this year and give it a go? Would be great stored away for Christmas…

(images by claire potter)