The new Elizabeth Line, formerly known as Crossrail, will connect the east London boroughs with the west, as far as Reading and Heathrow. Six ventilation / access shafts created along the underground portion of the railway have been designed to blend in with their surroundings. Mile End, in the east of London, has one of these shafts constructed at the southern end of Mile End Park. The shaft was built by the Costain Skanska joint venture team (known as C360) and has 124 steps from the street down to pavement level.
The shaft has been carefully designed by Jacobs UK Ltd to add biodiversity to the area. The main feature wall was planted with climbing plants, utilising the GreenBlue Urban Series 100 stainless steel climbing wall system, specified by Jacobs.
The plants have grown well and will continue to do so as long as they have access to water, uncompacted soil and air. Being mainly east-facing some of the plants will not grow as fast as others; they are protected by the shaft from rainfall coming on the prevailing winds.
In addition to the green wall system, other biodiverse elements have been added including a wildflower meadow covering the headhouse, with 35 species of flowering plants, and five Hornbeam trees (Carpinus betulus “Frans Fontaine”), and a couple of apple trees (Malus Elstar) which, as well as the autumn fruits, are great for pollinators.
The design life of this shaft is anticipated to be at least 120 years. With careful protection and some maintenance, there is no reason why this attractive green wall should not continue to thrive for as long as it is needed, bringing benefits to all those who live work and play in Mile End.