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The Hanging Garden

There has been a lot of inquiry on a suspended garden at Chelsea Flower show.




The garden, a pink wing shaped structure suspended from a large crane was designed by Diarmuid Gavin and was one of 13 gold medal winners this week and was said to have been inspired by the film Avatar.

The original idea was to offer at least VIPs a ride in the frame up to 25 metres from where the view over London is spectacular. The structure includes two garden benches within it which can seat up to eight people. 


As far as we know it has not yet been used following a number of calls questioning the fact that what is essentially a suspended platform, does not meet most of the relevant safety standards. In addition to that it goes against the UK Health & Safety Executives (HSE) advice that platforms suspended from cranes should not be used for ‘joy rides’. 


The HSE has said that the final decision on whether it is safe or not is down to David French who is the head of Health & Safety for the borough of Kensington and Chelsea

The garden or ‘Wonkavator’ as it is called, is sponsored by Cork City Council and Failte Ireland and will be shipped to Cork for the mid-summer festival next month. It is then planned to become a tourist attraction at a new park in the Mardyke area after that.



“When I watched ‘Avatar’ I saw magnificent floating worlds and islands,” he said. “I thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be great to do an Avatar-style Chelsea garden in the sky?” said Gavin. “If it falls with no people on it, there’s an exclusion zone at the bottom”

Vertikal Comment:
We have to admit to being torn here at the office, on the one hand it is true that the device does not meet safety regulations. And it is only suspended from a single cable that should it fail would drop the eight people to their death. And it is true it is not something that has to be done. 

However – well maintained wire rope rarely fails and if the device, the crane, the rope and all other parts of the lifting tackle were thoroughly checked, the safety margins doubled and a full and in depth risk assessment carried out it the chances of an accident would be lower than crossing a road. And we can’t stop doing everything that is not 100 percent safe. 
The worst aspect of this is that it goes against all the rules laid out for this sort of thing in the job place and sets a dreadful example. And the law is the law and if there are to be exceptions under special rules then they should be clearly and unequivocally stated. 

As a publisher that is passionate about improving safety and putting a stop to the totally unnecessary accidents that occur – or incidents as we were recently corrected – we are ‘sticking our necks out’ by saying that we would like to see a code that allowed for such exceptions, but only IF the event was planned and managed meticulously with substantial margins for error. 

There we said it!


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