Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Trend-Spotting: Living Walls

It's official - green walls are the next BIG thing. Ok, we already knew that - but one reason I say this now? While coverage in the glossy design magazines is one thing, showing up on CNN.com is a good sign of a trend both spotted and confirmed. What's next? People magazine profiling Patrick Blanc? Veg.itectural Digest? (I like the sound of that one). One interesting part of this article was the following diagram that outlined some of the combined benefits of including a green roof and walls on a 10 story building.

:: image via CNN.com

This reinforces the concept in an earlier post that much of the exposed surface area, particularly in urban areas is found in the building skin - and thus a good portion of the energy benefits can be realized with facade greening, particularly on buildings with smaller roofs and taller that 2-3 stories. As the adage of losing most of your heat through your head is similar to building envelope, it makes sense: Full coverage = full benefit.

:: image via Dwell

A couple of projects unveiled this week only add fuel to this trendy fire, in some inventive ways. The first is dubbed Brooklyn's first living wall at the Oulu Bar & EcoLounge which was featured yesterday on Jetson Green. According to Preston at JG, the project (Correction, 03.28.08 - I previously listed the amount of living wall as 2500 sf, which is actually the building area, not sure of total living wall coverage) has the entire front facade covered in vegetation, using what at first glance looks like the ELT Living Wall Panels and planted with a mix of sedums, iceplant and other succulents.

:: images via Jetson Green

The most striking view is the before and after - which should be required viewing for any business with a need for some alternative fa├žadism. You can find more information and photos from designer Evangeline Dennie's website as well.

:: images via Jetson Green

The next is a more abstractly artful example of wispy tendrils of vegetation for the Miami Art Museum by Herzog and de Meuron, and is striking in illustrative form and concept. Spotted on Inhabitat, the project is: "...described as the modern interpretation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon - an imaginative structure that bridges urban spaces, climates and cultures... As visitors move from the park into the open plaza, they will be greeted by a series of trees and columns, meant to resemble a forest canopy."

:: image via Inhabitat

It's exciting to see projects transforming from graphics to reality, the emergence of a number of companies, and the coverage of the vegetated and living wall in mainstream media. It will be interesting to see how this evolves as well in trendiness - as aesthetic tastes always linger for a bit and move on to something else. The value in this is using the vegetation artfully - but also expanding the usage beyond vegetation becoming another material applied to facades - which will do wonders for the longevity of this trend.


  1. This looks really great! I live in south Florida and we do have some buildings with ivy on them, but the succulents may not work here due to humidity and rain. I have always loved the look of plants on buildings though...and it looks energy efficient as well.

  2. Hey thanks for the mention. I need to go back and look at my article to make sure I'm clear about this, but the entire retail space is 2500 sf. I'm not sure what the surface area of the living wall is, though.

  3. Preston.
    Definitely my mistake. I re-read your post and had misquoted the building square footage as the amount of living wall. Thanks for the heads up (and the tip on this cool project).

  4. Living Walls are part of dream of seeing creatures ala The Shining...maybe not as scary...coming from the cool green walls. 3D Living Logos are my forte, and I look forward to seeing much more green advertising that is kinder to eye And Earth.

  5. I love the pillars in the Miami photo. It looks like just using vines and a rod of some sort makes an interesting sort of green wall.


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