Byam Shaw School of Art

Site Description: Byam Shaw is an art college in North London. They have been developing an outdoor growing space in what used to be the car park. They are driven by permaculture ideas and inspired by roof gardens.

Storytelling: ‘I mean we’ve got a low maintenance ethic, which would need to continue really… we’ve got a system running here… which means that we can just apply whatever waste we have to the soil and increase the soil year on year, it’s very easy, non-maintenance, potentially quite a high yield system. Whatever else we’re going to include, would have to have those same attributes.’ (Participant A)

Opportunities: This site already has quite an established growing culture. The participants have a good knowledge about permaculture. The students at Byam Shaw are also engaged in the growing and the canteen uses some of the food grow.

Challenges: Space constraints, other growing initiatives taking place on site and an unclear relationship how this bears on this project.

The Aims: To develop a kit that can either contain soil, or it can contain a nutrient solution, and not really distinguishing between different ways of growing.

Intervention: An outdoor vertical growing system.

Background Research & Expertise: Soil and nutrients, vertical growing

Dream scenario: ‘Our original thing is that we wanted to use the roof, but it’s very – there are sort of ideas about building on it – so at the moment we’ve had to put that to one side. But that was the original impetus, doing a bit of a forest garden up there.’ (Participant A)

Key insights/ inspirational triggers for design: ‘I mean I suppose, because we were interested in growing things vertically, and we’ve got various schemes that we’re trying to develop, I mean I suppose that would be where there might be a kind of crossover… But because we were really going with the permaculture idea, and using whatever’s local, using whatever’s near at hand.’ (Participant A)

‘I’m interested in the emotional influence in it, and that thing of tending.’ (Participant A)

‘I mean, it is very out of date, but in theory, our wormery quite soon should be producing liquids, which you then dilute with water, which is then really excellent nutrient, and there are very basic quick ways using animal dung – which we can actually get from down the road. (Participant A)

See our photo journal for Byam Shaw School of Art on Flickr here!