Plant-covered buildings have become immensely popular over the last few years – and understandably so. Exterior green roofs and walls have several benefits for our environment, from ‘cleaning’ the air in our cities to acting as noise insulators and regulating the indoor temperatures of a building. Not to mention how good they look, and how little maintenance they require if they are properly installed.
These same advantages are shared by green walls that are used indoors. Interior living walls help to improve indoor air quality, and have been found to offer added psychological benefits for building occupants. Several studies have shown that greenery in internal spaces creates a more calming environment, reducing tension and stress while increasing productivity.
Here are five great examples of interior spaces made better by the introduction of green walls.
LENDLEASE GLOBAL HEADQUARTERS (SYDNEY)
Last year, Lendlease welcomed Australia’s first breathing green wall in its new global headquarters, located in Sydney’s Barangaroo South.
The six-metre-high green wall by Junglefy incorporates no less than 5,000 plants. A two-year study carried out by researchers at the University Technology Sydney (UTS) found that the Breathing Wall removed over 24 litres of carbon dioxide from the air every hour – the highest recorded carbon dioxide removal rate recorded in scientific literature, according to Lendlease. This same research also indicated that the green wall worked to cool surrounding air temperatures, resulting in reduced air-conditioning costs and improved energy efficiency overall.
“The breathing wall delivered at Lendlease’s new headquarters is much more than a green wall,” says Jock Gammon, owner and founder of Junglefy. “Our breathing wall actively pulls air through the module and over the leaves and growing medium. This active ventilation offers all the benefits of a traditional green wall or pot plants – [such as] reducing carbon dioxide levels, filtering out air pollutants, and cooling and humidifying indoor air – but at a much greater level of efficiency.”
DESJARDINS BUILDING (QUEBEC)
Named the world’s tallest indoor vertical garden in 2014, The Currents is an installation by Green Over Grey inspired by the views of the St. Lawrence River in Lévis, Quebec.
The 65-metre-tall installation, which features a total of 42 plant species, was a “tangible way” to show Desjardins’ commitment to sustainable development.
According to Desjardins, over 11,000 individual plants were used to create the wall, arranged according to colour, texture, pattern and size. One of the species included the Spathiphyllum ‘Mauno Loa’, commonly known as the peace lily. Research conducted as part of the NASA Clean Air Study found this species to be one of the most effective oxygen-producing plants for clean and purified air.
“The wall is fully hydroponic (i.e. soil-free) and incorporates plants that thrive in similar vertical environments found in nature, like on tree branches and next to waterfalls,” says Green over Grey co-founder, Patrick Poiraud.
“The end result is a visually pleasing piece that provides cleaner indoor air and improves both the acoustic quality and the value of the property.”
CHANGI AIRPORT TERMINAL 3 (SINGAPORE)
Singapore’s airport has been recognised time and again as one of the best in the world. In 2007, it raised the bar with a third terminal, which included a massive 4,144-square-metre green façade by Tierra Design.
Consisting of more than 10,000 plants and 25 species of climbers, the green tapestry exhibits the richness, diversity and character of the Southeast Asian Equatorial rainforest.
The plants were pre-grown on the stainless steel cables that are secured to the infrastructure system. Each cable is removable, allowing plants to be individually replaced if necessary.
Strategically located in the transitional zone between the landside check-in and airside lounge spaces, the vertical garden provides a clear demarcation of an international border. Despite its official function, its form is friendly, organic and quite literally alive.
“The green tapestry [was] designed not to screen and hide the huge dividing wall, but to enhance and soften its proportions,” says the project team.
Apart from creating visual interest for passengers, the green wall helps to regulate the internal temperature of the terminal. It is easily maintained from catwalks that are located behind the suspended structure. Humidity is replenished via an integrated misting system, and nutrients are maintained via drip fertigation.
ANN B. BARSHINGER CANCER INSTITUTE (PENNSYLVANIA)
The benefits of biophilic design in hospitals have been well-documented in architecture, so it makes particular sense when healthcare projects incorporate green walls. Lancaster Health in Pennsylvania, USA, did just that for their cancer wing, which was completed in 2013.
Project architects Ballinger teamed up with Ambius to install a green wall in the lobby of the Cancer Institute – a logical decision, considering the project is centred around the concepts of regeneration and reconnection to living systems. This wall is intended to help create a calm environment for patients receiving treatments, as well as their loved ones.
Measuring 33 feet in width and 12 feet in height, the living wall is fitted with a recirculating irrigation system. This means that water in the wall is always free of pathogens. According to Ambius, this recirculating system maximises the system’s water efficiency. The wall is also regularly maintained, and the plants receive adequate light from grow lights installed at the top of the wall.
CITY HALL (SEOUL)
Seoul’s City Hall is a contemporary piece of architecture whose primary feature is a curved, fluid glass façade. A sprawling, seven-storey green wall was installed within the building’s interior roughly a year after the doors opened. This green addition was made with the intention of softening the building’s steel-and-glass façade, and of reinforcing the project’s ESD initiatives.
"By creating the so-called green wall, we hope the City Hall becomes a more eco-friendly and healthy space,” a city official commented following the living wall installation.
“After all, plants here are expected to erase indoor pollutants and help control the indoor temperature."
The green wall, which is approximately the size of a soccer field, features 70,000 individual plants from 14 different species. Its curved profile mirrors the building’s external silhouette, and creates a ‘space ship’ experience when visitors take the elevator down towards the first floor.