Innovative ‘living vending machines’ launch in the UK

An innovative new application for Dutch horticulture specialist Mobilane’s LivePanel system sees the first planted ‘living vending machines’ come to life at Bournemouth train station, designed to uplift the space and bring the benefits of biophilia to passengers.

Everyday environments such as train stations are under-utilised spaces for bringing people closer to nature, as not only can the greening of such spaces improve wellbeing, but it can improve air quality and boost biodiversity. Making use of vending machines to provide these benefits was a new design challenge, but in a project led by phs Greenleaf, delivered for Decorum Vending, Mobilane’s green systems have been employed to solve it.

The project demanded a LivePanel system. Despite the machines measuring just 90 x 180 cm, and the technical challenges posed by air vents, the adaptability and compactness offered by the LivePanel system enabled the design team to find a green solution, with just six cassettes fitting to each wall. The compact, interchangeable cassettes, as well as the irrigation system, are conspicuously integrated into the wall, which is of paramount importance with such a small-scale project.

The compact systems feature 54 handpicked plants on each machine wall, with varieties specially chosen for their hardiness, and ability to thrive in shady settings. Collectively, they are projected to absorb nearly 5kg of carbon, and produce 2.4kg of oxygen, every year.

“We are delighted to see our LivePanel system applied in such an innovative way”, said Alexander Ilsink, chief executive of Mobilane’s parent company Darthuizer Group. “Our aim is to share the benefits of nature and vertical greenery far and wide, and this project represents a wonderful new opportunity to do so.”

With a shared commitment to passenger wellbeing and environmental impact, the design team has collectively redefined expectations of how everyday amenities such as vending machines can contribute to public space. “No-one had designed a living wall to wrap over a vending machine before, so we were pioneering the way, looking at ways to adapt good quality wall systems that we know and trust to this unique setting,” says Stephen Dieppe, managing director of phs Greenleaf, who led the design and installation of the walls.