Paper Garden

1000 volunteers are transforming an industrial storage shed into an educational building and garden using reclaimed building materials.

The Paper Garden builds on the success of Global Generation’s educational programme at the former Daily Mail printworks where during the past six years 3000 local people have transformed a car park into an ecology garden and a loading bay into a story telling space. The charity’s program has created educational and leadership opportunities for young people. The holiday clubs have involved primary school children in creative- and ecology projects. Global Generation have worked with families through the NHS mental health intervention scheme; and collaboration with local schools has given families without gardens access to green spaces during the pandemic.

With the current garden site needed for major infra-structure works related to the implementation of the Canada Water Masterplan, a unique opportunity has come up for the program to move to the site of a disused storage shed on the southern fringe of the regeneration area. The move will allow the charity to increase and intensify their impact.

Conscious of the urgent need to reduce the carbon footprint of the construction process itself, we have taken a radical approach to sustainability. We stripped the metal cladding off the shed and retained the slab, roof and steel frame. The new walls are made from cordwood, an age old construction method using short length of timber logs from tree pruning and lime mortar. Reclaimed railway sleepers were given by Network Rail. The windows were donated from reject stock by a Scandinavian window supplier. Floors will be made using doors reclaimed from a police station that is being demolished.

The construction process itself has become an integral part of Global Generation’s engagement activities with corporate- and community volunteers of all ages splitting logs sourced from Epping Forest and making planters and compost enclosures together. With an uncompromising focus on re-use, the project sets a precedent for sustainable construction whilst unleashing the potential of the construction process itself to contribute to greater community coherence in an area of London that is changing.

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