Lambeth Floating Marsh is an art/science collaboration between artist Loraine Leeson and biophysical chemist Nithin Rai, with support from University of Westminster’s Faculty of Science and Technology.
The project aims to support biodiversity along the River Thames by providing habitat for microorganisms and invertebrates to support the return of wildlife where urban riverbanks have been replaced with hard, vertical walls. This issue is particularly pertinent to the central London reach of the tidal Thames which experiences considerable stress from the rise and fall of the tide, wash from river traffic and the changing composition of fresh and saltwater.
Sadly on the site of the original extensive Lambeth Marshes there are few places that offer continued sustaining environment for these organisms. To address this, a test site has been created consisting of long baskets firmly attached along each side of the Tamesis Dock, a Dutch barge moored on the south side of the river between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges. The baskets contain a mixed collection of nursery reeds placed interspersed with small gaps to allow easier monitoring of the growth of different plant species.
Microorganisms currently existing in the river at that site have been observed using microscopy at University of Westminster and samples from the reed beds will continue to be monitored over coming months as the reeds establish themselves to find out how well they thrive in this new environment. Meanwhile the issues will be brought to the attention of visitors by projected images of these microorganisms along the embankment. People will be able to connect to the web site via their phones at the location to learn more about the project and reasons it has come about.