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Project Background

The new Chester market is the cornerstone of a £72m development in Northgate, which includes not just a new shopping centre, but development of an arcade, new shopping streets, a square, a multi-storey cark park and indoor cycle hub.  This has all been designed to fit perfectly into the existing city centre, with no jarring design difference.

Designed by AHR Architects.

Built by VINCI Construction.

Featured Solutions:

  • Viritopia Living Wall System (Exterior)


  • Car Park: 621m²
  • Princess Street: 69m²
  • Market Square: 230m²

Project Drivers


Social Impact


visual of a market square with a green wall

The Car Park

Here we designed small rectangular sections of living wall to be interspersed amongst three other façade panel types, which allows for better ventilation – key in a car park like this.

Split across the façade, the living wall design presented a challenge for irrigation.  To allow us to monitor and irrigate each section evenly, the system was designed so a header pipe runs from the plant room (where the tank and main irrigation system is kept), to various boxes on the inside of the car park where pipes then run to each section of living wall.

looking up at a green facade with cloudy sky


The installation of these living wall sections was carried out by our in-house install team using a scissor lift, cherry picker and a delta deck (inside).

This car park boasts 59,616 plants across its façade, over more than 600 square metres, and is visible from the three surrounding roads, bringing this unique piece of architecture to the public eye.  But what does this mean for the environment?

Environmental Gains

Trapping 80 kg of dust and producing 1,055 kg of oxygen every year, this feature is doing so much more than embellishing the structure.  There are more than 29 tonnes of natural soil on the car park façade alone, providing important alternative habitats for local wildlife (did you know that the solitary bee burrows in soil rather than living in a hive?), with the plants providing seed and fodder.

rainbow in  grey skies with a green wall to the right

Chester’s Northgate Development will breathe new life into our city, taking old inefficient buildings like the market and replacing them with something that is fit for purpose, both for traders and for customers.
Supporting local business and creating new spaces for people to come together, spend time and learn new things in the Post-Covid world is exactly what Northgate is all about.

Councillor Richard Beacham

Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Growth, Cheshire West and Chester Council

Princess Street

During installation at Princess Street, a part of the larger Chester Northgate project.  This follows from the right side of the car park, leading people via the stairway up to the Market Square.

construction site with planted modules ready for installation

After at Princess Street

Flanking the outdoor staircase and wrapping around the corner of the unit in Princess Street are over 6,600 plants, designed on an evergreen base, with a clear swathe that follows the ascension of the stairs.

This living wall in fact plays two roles: to provide a beautiful and unique backdrop as visitors approach the plaza, and to disguise the large service room.

Our team used a scaffold tower and cherry picker to install the living wall here at Princess Street.

living wall installed in a outdoor stairway

The Cinema

Forming part of the approach to the plaza and cinema, and as you enter the indoor market, this enormous (230 sqm) wall of live plants is the first thing to catch your eye.  This softens the space, which is mostly made up of hard materials such as glass, concrete or steel.

But there is science behind this.

looking up at a building with a green wall and blue skies

Biophilic design

A document on Biophilic Design created by Mott MacDonald pulled together different studies showing how integrating greenery into designs is beneficial economically.  For example, one of these studies found that the use of vegetation or landscaping led to increases in rental rates on retail spaces with an increased customer spend of 8-12%.

This section of the Chester Northgate project was installed using a scissor lift.

looking across a commercial square with a green wall on the left building

How will all the living walls be maintained?

Our maintenance team will carry out monthly routine visits, with a full ‘horticultural husbandry’ visit once a year.  Taking 2 weeks to cover all areas, this involves a full trim and prune and full servicing of the irrigation system.

looking up at a car park facade with green wall sections