Environmentalism is fast becoming a top concern in France – a rooftop concern, to be precise. Excitingly, the nation has just passed new legislation that will require all upcoming commercial construction projects to feature either green roofs or solar panels above their top floors. By now, most people are at least passingly familiar with the benefits of solar panels, but green roofs remain unknown to the general public. A green roof is one that is covered in lush plant life, and the perks extend well beyond the aesthetic. Because green roofs help to insulate, buildings are able to slash seasonal energy costs for both heating and air conditioning by approximately 25 percent.
Visitors to London’s South Bank last month saw a dramatic change to the city’s skyline, all in support of the UK mental health and the anti-stigma campaign, Time to Change.
As part of the annual London Design Festival, and designjunction, Head Above Water was a breath-taking, 9 metre high sculpture by British designer, Steuart Padwick. This piece of public art sought to stimulate the discussion to eradicate mental health-related stigma and discrimination.
A model of sustainable design
The project used precision engineered, renewable and sustainable PEFC-certified cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels supplied by StoraEnso. Installation was carried out by structural engineering experts Ramboll, making Head Above Water a model of sustainable, smart design and build.
“Head Above Water highlights the importance of recognizing mental health issues and also demonstrates the versatility of CLT as a construction material,” said Alun Watkins, National Secretary of PEFC UK, one of the sponsors of the installation.
“I am delighted that PEFC UK was able to lend its support to such an imaginative project. By using PEFC-certified CLT, the project team could build this fantastic sculpture with timber from sustainably managed forests.”
A symbol of hope
The ‘Head’ was designed deliberately gender, ethnicity and age neutral and stood as a symbol of hope, bravery, compassion, positivity and change, for those who have come through or are still confronting mental health issues and the people who support them.
Head Above Water night Luke WalkerAt night, the sculpture was lit and people could engage with it by changing its colour to reflect how they were feeling in real time, by tweeting #HeadAboveWaterLondon followed by one of the Head’s 14 emotions, which included love, hope, hate and fear.
After the London Design Festival, the Head will be re-homed at Northfleet Transhipment Centre, where it will stand as a symbol of recycling and rejuvenation, as well as mental health awareness.