In a city of bustling urbanites and flocking tourists what would be more pleasing to see than a living tapestry of beauty that scales stories high? The best part about green walls other than beauty is it serves an environmental purpose. These unique structures are called “vertical gardens” or “green walls.” The creator Patrick Blanc is inspired by the naturally occurring plant life that’s able to sustain life on a vertical surface (such as rocks and trees) all over the world. His creativity for this idea blossomed over the years from firsthand experience traveling to places like Japan, the limestone cliffs of Borneo (where many species of plants exist on rock walls and caves), and the cascading waterfalls of Thailand. These green walls are truly fascinating and may be taking the world by storm. They currently reside in several cities across the US such as San Francisco, New York, Miami, and globally as well. Probably his most famous is the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.
Green Walls Act Like Green Roofs
These green walls act much like green roofs do by filtering air and water and soaking up carbon dioxide to help lessen the “heat island” effect of urban areas while reducing air conditioning costs in their host buildings.
They aren’t just limited to outdoor building walls either. They have made an appearance in a quaint little French restaurant in West Hollywood for an indoor botanical oasis vibe. Also, they make great exhibitions at art galleries and can become part of your private home.
The three-part system consists of a PVC layer, felt, and metal frame, providing a soil-free self-supporting system that is light enough to be hung on the wall, and even suspended in the air, weighing in at less than 30 kilograms per square meter.
Vertical Gardens make Unique Green Walls
“Each vertical garden is a unique wall composition of various types of plants that has to take into account the specific surroundings of the place in which it is created,” says landscape architect Michael Hellgren, who founded the firm Vertical Garden Design in 2004. “It is not only the colorful interplay between the plants on a ‘green wall’ that is fascinating, but also the appearance of the wall itself, which changes daily.”
Some critics say that it’s not entirely a green project because of the sustainability factor such as the energy required to run the pumps etc and emissions caused by the manufacture transport of materials. I happen to think that maybe there are different approaches around these things such as figuring out ways to use different types of materials and maybe use solar power to generate the energy needed to run the pumps. Choosing the right type of plants and flowers with ones that require less water could assist in making it more self sustaining, therefore, helping in water conservation. The structures created thus far are definitely a step in the green direction.
I hope to see more of these green walls simply because they are beautiful to look at and serve such a great purpose for our air and environment. Have you come across a green wall yet?
Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by yourbartender on Flickr.
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