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Award-winning garden at Chelsea Flower Show features airpop as the natural material for creative design

Pure Land Foundation Garden at Chelsea Flower Show made from expanded polystyrene EPS airpop

A view of the Pure Land Foundation garden credit: Mark Vessey

The Pure Land Foundation garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show has won a silver gilt award in the ‘Fresh’ category for ‘capturing the organic shapes of the landscapes inspired by nature’s natural rhythms’ – all made possible by airpop (previously known as expanded polystyrene) which is 98% air engineered in a polymer matrix.

Designed by Fernando Gonzalez Garden Design – named as one of the fifty most innovative practices in the world (Digital Landscape Architects Now) – and built by The Garden Builders, the curvilinear white shimmering airpop structure was manufactured using advanced computer cutting technologies by the CNC Factory based in Uxbridge, Middlesex. The airpop was finished with a lightweight marble-like coating called Jesmonite®.

“As well as strength, light weight and design versatility, airpop is an excellent environmental solution in the creative world”

David Emes, Chairman, EPS Group (expanded polystyrene, airpop)

David Emes

Chairman, EPS Group

Fernando said, “I am excited to showcase and integrate these truly 21st century processes and materials into a garden context.”

The finished garden was planted using a colour palette influenced by the principal colours used in Buddhist art and ritual, including warm yellows, oranges, blues and reds with a strong focus on three multi-stemmed golden rain trees. The airpop structure not only allowed the creation of strong curves and natural wave shapes but also provided the perfect growing environment by allowing the reflection of high levels of light onto the plants as well as creating ideal moisture-retaining planting areas.

Bruno Wang, founder of the Pure Land Foundation said, “Gardens reconnect us with nature; nature reconnects us with spirituality and helps us to remember who we are. This soothing garden is an urban oasis designed for contemplation and meditation – a breath of fresh air at this year’s show.”

CNC routing of expanded polystyrene EPS airpop for Pure Land Foundation Garden at Chelsea Flower Show

CNC routing of airpop for Pure Land Foundation Garden

Airpop is an increasingly popular and versatile material in the creative arts, including the design and production of stage sets, art and sculptural installations because it offers opportunities for virtually limitless shapes and forms to be created, particularly when the artist or designer’s original ideas are cut using CNC routing. It also offers strong environmental credentials to those who may be concerned about using sustainable materials in their work – as Chairman of the EPS Group of the British Plastics Federation, David Emes, pointed out: “As well as strength, light weight and design versatility, airpop is an excellent environmental solution in the creative world. It is 98% air and is recyclable at the end of its life.”