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Images: Alex Perkins/Possible

242 Concrete jungle roadblocks

Date: June 2020
Designed by: Leo Murray
Credit: Possible

Leo Murray, Director of climate action charity Possible and Royal College of Art graduate, designed a self-watering ‘green’ roadblock for use in emergency preparations to prevent the predicted surge in post-lockdown motor traffic from overwhelming UK city streets. This image shows the first wave of blocks being installed in June in Chiswick by the London Borough of Hounslow.

Murray adapted standard concrete roadblocks to embed high tech rainwater reservoirs beneath recesses planted with a selection of drought-tolerant species. Designed to capture and store rainfall naturally, the ‘Concrete Jungle’ blocks can keep their plants supplied with water for up to six weeks between rainfall events.

Possible created the Concrete Jungle units to give councils a low-cost way of including ‘urban greening’ in new statutory measures to change road layouts to make cycling and walking safer and more attractive when lockdown restrictions are eased. The blocks are intended as a greener alternative to plastic barriers or concrete bollards that also overcomes maintenance issues and costs associated with traditional planters. Whilst the prototypes have used standard materials to enable high speed, low cost deployment, Possible is currently exploring the potential to make future batches of Concrete Jungle blocks from cement-free concrete, which has a much lower carbon footprint than standard concrete

Possible were inspired to create the blocks by the concept of ‘crevice gardens’ made up of plants that are capable of thriving in cracks in walls, rocks and pavements with virtually no soil. The ‘PermaVoid’ rainwater reservoirs embedded in the Concrete Jungle blocks were developed by specialist civil engineering manufacturer Polypipe for use in green roofs, capturing rainwater in geocellular voids below the plants and steadily wicking it back up to their roots over time via capillary cones.