The Green Living Room has started its tour of seven European countries to demonstrate the wellbeing benefits of living with green spaces
Some 100 delegates, drawn from a range of environmental, health and regeneration organisations, gathered to examine the findings of a European-funded research team, known as TURAS (Transitioning towards Urban Resilience and Sustainability) which looked specifically at the relationship between residents of Barking Riverside and their environment. It highlighted a lack of awareness of the green infrastructure and the benefits it brings within the growing new town - work which in turn has helped bring the community explore options like community gardens.
Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Councillor Darren Rodwell, explained: "More than 70% of EU citizens live in towns or cities, they consume 75% of global energy and emit 80% of greenhouse gases. They overheat their homes, have flooding problems and lack wildlife on the doorstep.
"Our conference brought together some of the most forward-thinking planners, developers and academics to discuss how we can ensure cities - particularly growth areas like Barking and Dagenham - can provide attractive, healthy and sustainable neighbourhoods.
"This isn't simply about aesthetics; the evidence shows that this is good for the environment but most importantly, good for people's health and wellbeing too."
A key attraction at the conference was the stunning mobile Green Living room - a demountable garden space which has now started its seven city European tour departing from Barking.
Bursting with scent and colour, and with flowers and herbs, kiwis and strawberries growing from the walls and vertical gardens, the aim of this unique touring green space, piloted in Germany, is to help city dwellers learn about the benefits of green spaces, especially:
- Increasing wildlife: providing wildflowers and supporting birds and insects such as bees
- Urban heat-island effect: it helps to reduce higher temperature in inner city areas
- Storm water runoff: absorbs heavy rainfall from storms to reduce local flooding
- Reduces noise pollution: provides a sound barrier to create an oasis of calm in city centres
- Absorbs carbon: plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, improving air quality.
The conference speakers included Dusty Gedge, President of the European Federation of Green Roof Associations (EFB and founder of Livingroofs.org), Dr William Bird, a GP and Founder of Intelligent Health, academics from University of East London and University of Nottingham and Cllr Darren Rodwell, the Leader of LBBD Council.
After London the Green Living Room will begin a tour of seven European countries taking in France, Belgium, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia before returning to a permanent exhibition site in Stuttgart, Germany.
It was first used in the town of Ludwigsburg, Germany where it was built in the heart of the town becoming a popular, social space for local people to meet and enjoy nature.
For more on the Green Living Room tour visit www.turas-cities.eu