Employee support for the community

Sustainability Report 2010

In difficult economic times, corporate ‘pounds’ continue to be critical in helping communities meet their social needs. Of equal importance, we believe, is our ability to motivate and energise employees throughout the organisation to become social advocates within our local community. At Atelier Ten we are very fortunate to have a workforce that embraces and energetically participates in community outreach programs.

A team of environmental designers developed a proposal to establish a rooftop garden within Perseverance Works, home of our London office. The idea was to use the roof space to grow organic vegetables to supply Hackney Farm Shop. The proposal won a grant from the Atelier Ten Foundation.

However, early site visits suggested that the roof, with patches of felt roofing and unstable balustrades, was unsuitable for a project of this nature. Structural engineers, Jane Wernick & Associates based in Perseverance Works, were persuaded to offer a couple of hours of free time.

The findings were not encouraging. As feared, the existing balustrades heights are not to code and to re-install the correct railing heights, the roof would need to be lifted and a method of attachment onto the underlying structure figured out. This together with a potentially ‘leaky’ roof pointed to a bill in excess of £10,000.

With limited time and budget, an alternative site in the vicinity was sought. Sadly, contact with Shoreditch Church and neighbouring parks failed to deliver an alternative. While waiting for responses, research was undertaken on the following:

  • Available plant list in this climate
  • Soil load calculation, soil conditions
  • Irrigation with capillary mats, in-house testing
  • PV powered pumps
  • Nomadic garden case study
  • Vertical garden products

Unable to secure a site, the possibility of creating a vertical herb garden was explored: this wouldn’t require a ‘big grow area’. A dialogue with Perseverance Works Committee has been established to see if permission can be granted to use the walls of the Security port-a-cabin as herb growing walls.

This strange and temporary structure sitting in the main courtyard of Perseverance Works would benefit from a ‘greening’, raise community awareness due to the centralised nature of the cabin and provided a ’24-hour’ gate keeper. A conversation with landscape architects, VOGT, has found another supporter of this project and they have committed to recommend vertical growing species.