Green Living Centre

Topic: Other Subtopic: General

Case Study

of an Exhibition

by Leila Schembri

Published on October 23, 2008, Modified on October 28, 2008

  • Description and goals

    In partnership with Blustin Heath Design, we created an inspiring visitor space with an interactive exhibition for Islington Council – The Green Living Centre.

    Situated on Upper Street, N1, in the heart of Islington, the Centre engages visitors in everything about living sustainably – from how to get a grant for a solar panel to wildlife gardening tips. The interior design incorporates recycled, natural and low energy materials – such as tables that are made from recycled plastic, and an installation of 1200 used water bottles, representing the number of bottles brought and consumed every 45 seconds in London alone – in addition to a dozen interactive displays.

  • Development process and challenges

    The Green Living Centre is the first of its kind – a walk in centre that combines exhibition elements with active consultation.

    The concept for the Centre is that ‘nature reclaims the space’. The building has been stripped back to reveal its structure and expose the servicing and nature in the form of natural surfaces. Reclaimed and recycled materials have been reintroduced to give a clear message about sustainability. The Centre is a space for a quick browse or more in-depth discussion. It is intended to act as a springboard to inspire individuals to take positive action towards a greener lifestyle. Its overall look and feel is directly intended to reflect the nature of the London high street it resides within.

    The exhibits intentionally use a low level of simple electro mechanical interfaces to allow an adult audience to engage with a range of key information around the topic of sustainability in an informal manner. The main timber wall contains the bulk of the exhibition material. This wall contains exhibits that can be browsed by visitors or act as a springboard for conversation between them and Centre staff.

    There are 5 themes across the main exhibit wall:
    1) Think Global, Act Local – encouraging visitors to take simple action to reduce their carbon footprint.
    2) Find Out More ‘At Home’ – The content on the touchscreens in the wall has been compiled by teams across Islington and provides a range of information and tips that directly relate to our day to day lives. Two screens have been allocated to the same theme, as this is the area of our lives we can most influence.
    3) Energy in Your Home – reflecting on the percentage of energy we use for power, water, heating and cooking.
    4) Greener Travel – An exhibit that directly reflects some of the positive activity being done by the council and how individuals can alter/reinforce some of their own travel options in a positive way. It also showcases the wind turbine by showing how much energy is generated to power the fleet.
    5) Greener Building – A collection of sample materials for the Centre staff to show to visitors. The materials are themed across building fabric, services and finishes.

    On the ‘shopfront’ or window side of the exhibition there are two large
    window displays. They are intended to provide a dynamic attractor by providing updatable stats, facts and questions to entice people into the Centre. Looking out onto the street the left side of the installation contains an exhibit with soundbites for visitors to explore and obtain information around biodiversity. The right side of the installation has a display to demonstrate the quantity of waste generated through plastic bag usage. Across the entire installation are a number of recycled plastic shelves that are used for changing object displays.

    Between the window displays is a touchscreen database. The theme of this area is ‘Find out More – Out and About’. It relates primarily to our working and outdoor lives.

    There are two central ‘research’ tables. These tables are covered in a recycled plastic and provide space for meetings; they also house IT networking to the Islington infrastructure, power and data for Islington staff engaged in any of the Centre’s services to work flexibly(and thereby reduce demand on workstations). The trough in the main table can be used to display literature/reading materials for the public.

    A central focal point is a installation of 1200 1.5 litre bottles that hang from the ceiling. This feature is intended to provide a memorable, aesthetic installation to the Centre. It can be used to demonstrate a range of stats e.g. according to DEFRA 2006 product consumer figures for the consumption of bottled water in London, the number of bottles presented translates into approx. 45 seconds worth of usage across London. The lighting is mostly low energy fluorescent lamps, except the spotlights which are energy efficient and low glare. The bottle feature is lit through fibre optics: every second bottle contains a single fibre optic strand, all running from 1 light bulb on each side of the feature. The bottle lighting feature was designed to be viewed from the exterior of the building at night time. There is a gentle twinkling action to attract the attention of passers-by and refract light across the bottles.

  • Exhibition Opened: November 2008

  • Exhibition Still Open!

  • Traveling Exhibition: No

  • Location: London, England, U.K.

  • Estimated Cost: $100,000 to $500,000 (US)

  • Website(s):

Latest Comments (2)

Human power

by Michael Flynn - October 25, 2008

Congratulations on your opening. Nice work. This sounds like a great place for an electric generator bike so visitors can feel the difference in the effort required to light incandescent vs high efficiency compact florescent bulbs.

Ironic lighting

by Robert Brown - March 27, 2009

It would take a lot of cyclists to power the high intensity halogen lighting installed for the exhibition. Am I the only to notice the irony of this?

Log in to post a response.