Students plant 420 trees to promote sustainable building

The event gave future architects and designers the opportunity to reflect on their practices as part of the Department's commitment to developing sustainable building and construction.

Date: 16 December 2020

Students and staff from London Met last week planted 420 trees at Tower Hamlets’ Mudchute City Farm, using saplings acquired as part of the Woodland Trust’s Free Trees for Schools and Communities scheme.

All students from the School of Art, Architecture and Design were welcomed to join the socially distanced planting event, which will took place on 25 November 2020.

Sian Moxon, senior lecturer in Architecture and Sustainability Coordinator, says, “The Department of Architecture at London Met places a huge emphasis on developing sustainable models of building and construction in its teaching and research. It was important to us to bring our future architects and designers together as a collective through an activity that encouraged them to acknowledge and take responsibility for their own ecological footprint.

“It was wonderful to hear their reflections on the sustainable use of land and natural resources, and we hope they will carry this with them throughout their careers.”

Jilly Topping, who is in the second year of her BA Fine Art was one student who took part in the event. She said, “I really wanted to get involved with the tree planting event because I feel I have been stuck at home most of the year and the idea of being outside in nature really appealed to me. I also wanted to help the urban farm and get involved with more London Met events. It's a great way to meet other students and tutors, especially as we are not getting the chance in our every day at the moment.

“I realised during our session that working together, as a small group of students a lot can be done. It was just a few hours out of our day and it had helped the farm with a much-needed hedge area. We also benefited from being closer to nature and the feel-good factor of helping someone out. The tree we planted will be there for many years to come and in our small way we have helped the environment.”

The project created 100 metres of hedge with a mixture of tree species including hawthorn, rowan, blackthorn, silver birch, hazel and common oak, which will serve the important tasks of providing food and shelter for wildlife, addressing carbon emissions, air quality and biodiversity loss. Sustainability consultants Eight Associates, who have previously advised London Met on design projects, were on hand at the event to quantify the impact on carbon, air quality and biodiversity of the hedge.

The School has a proud history of delivering proactive environmental initiatives, with its Cities research group committing to a programme of ‘rewilding’ London, and the announcement of Architecture Education Declares (AED) in 2019, which its students helped to launch.

The AED manifesto builds environmentalism into the School’s education practice, stating that solutions to the ecological crisis we face are rooted in good architecture and design.

It introduces the idea of what it means to be a responsible designer early, by asking students to produce a personal ecological diary at the beginning of their studies. Between foundation and fifth year, and on into postgraduate research, students are encouraged to use various tools to measure environmental impact, both in precedents and their own designs, with increasing depth and independence. Thus, they are encouraged to develop an ideological position in relation to the impact of social, political and technological conditions on environmental design.

students planting trees
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