‘Breathing Wall’ cools Campbelltown


By Maja Kantarovska

Breathing wall at Campbelltown Station

A ‘breathing wall’ has recently been installed on the underpass near Campbelltown Station, in Sydney’s west, as part of the city’s ‘Reimagining Campbelltown City Centre’ master plan to promote green living.

“The breathing wall is one of several council initiatives to further enhance the sustainability of our city,” says Campbelltown mayor, George Brticevic.

The wall is a collaboration between the Campbelltown council, UTS and Australian design company, Junglefy. The goal of these green walls, according to the Junglefy website, is to ‘accelerate the removal of air pollutants… act as a sound barrier, improve acoustics while cooling the surrounding air temperature’.

Removal of air pollutants is a key aspect of the breathing wall which functions to improve air quality in the area. This is particularly important in the wake of the record low air quality levels during the 2019-2020 bushfire season. The Western Sydney region was hit significantly during the peak of the wildfires, reaching near hazardous levels during the months of  December and January.

Level of air pollution in Campbelltown during 2019-2020 bushfire season. (World Air Quality Index, AQICN.org)

“The health of Australians is paramount as we continue to develop the region”, says mayor Brticevic. “That’s why living infrastructure is a key goal in planning the future of our city.”

In addition to the health benefits, there are also strong economic incentives for sustainable infrastructure.

“Focusing on renewable energy and sustainability in our urban centres rather than finite resources is essential if we want to develop our economic stability,” says Thomas Birtchnell, Senior Lecturer in Geography and Sustainable Communities at the University of Wollongong.

The step towards sustainability has been a slow yet prominent topic on the national level for the past several years.

“It’s important that Australia keeps up with global sustainability efforts,” says Dr Birtchnell.

According to the 2019 Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) index, Australia ranks surprisingly low. At number 38, Australia trails significantly behind other developed nations on sustainability with France (4), United Kingdom (13), Canada (30), and the United States (35).

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has also previously criticized Australia’s staggered approach to sustainability actions. In their 2019 Environmental Performance Review, they noted the worsening status of Australia’s biodiversity as well as underdeveloped strategies to reduce carbon emissions causing the nation to fall behind other countries in sustainability targets.

Although the national response may be falling short, the work of local communities provides a promising look into the future of sustainability in Australia. The Campbelltown region is quickly becoming a front-runner in sustainable infrastructure development. The council has announced many upcoming plans for improving the quality of living through innovative and eco-friendly measures.

One such project is a trial of Cool Seal pavements on two local car parks to assess the impact of the product on reducing urban heat. According to the council, this plan aligns with its key vision to improve and cool the city’s urban centres through technology such as living infrastructure and enhancing natural green and blue spaces.

The seemingly unassuming green wall next to Campbelltown Station is not only a pleasant botanical view for daily commuters but also represents a promising future for improving quality of life for locals through ecologically sustainable development.

“Initiatives such as this will cool our city, encourage healthy lifestyles among our residents and further enhance the biodiversity and ecological resilience of our natural environment,” says mayor Brticevic.