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Living Walls - Look Up to Bring the Outside, In

March 2015

LOOK UP to incorporate Living Walls into your Architecture!

    This is not your grandmother’s houseplant. Once the province of cutting edge commercial buildings, Living Walls, are now an affordable and accessible option for any project where the client desires to truly bring the outdoors inside. A Living Wall is simply a concentration of plants arranged in planters (custom or prefab) secured to any wall in a home or commercial space. With proper planning for plant selection as a function of available light and moisture, a Living Wall can become a vibrant feature of any special space. There are innumerable scenarios that could benefit from the incorporation of a Living Wall into the architecture. And now, sustainability and green living are important lifestyle issues.  Why incorporate a biologically active vertical space?  Read on. 

    

    Both residential and commercial applications benefit from living walls.  As old and young alike gravitate to cities, urban dwellers can enjoy a natural oasis to offset the asphalt, concrete and brick that surrounds them.  Tall or large volume spaces benefit from an increased sense of scale that the complex forms and shades of plants bestow.  And Living Walls can be a complement in custom designs incorporating art and technology. Planting is a feel good design too, improving morale and productivity.  Green walls can be a home garden, capitalizing on the organic movement and keeping your plants away from chemical sprays in surrounding areas. Living walls can be installed in new construction or existing architecture.  Also property value increases with the perception of sustainability, modernism, while promoting a reduced carbon footprint.

Green Walls vs Green Facades

     A Green Wall is different from a Green Façade.  Green Façades are usually on the outside of buildings and are comprised of climbing plants.  They are geared to cover specially designed support structures. Living Walls require more maintenance and attention, while a green façade is usually planted and left to grow more or less independently once planted.  

    Green, Living Walls have been around since the 1930’s.  They are becoming more popular and more versatile than green roofs.  Creating a living wall is an easier way to give back to yourself and the environment. Other names for the green, living walls include ecowalls, browalls, “mur” vegetal or vertical gardens.  Like the green facades, they are also built on a frame attached to a structural wall. 

    There are many types of frames available.  Do It Yourself, using standard vinyl gutters, box frames, etc. or take advantage of the many choices available for purchase in the retail market.  Living wall contractors also offer initial consultation, installment and maintenance.  There are three types of structures, freestanding, panel systems and tray systems.

    The soil within the containers should also be stronger so as to hold more moisture.  A good soil mix constitutes one-third organic potting soil, one-third organic rotted or composted manure and one-third organic compost.     

    Incorporation of carefully selected plants depend upon the light, personal preferences and the weather conditions of the location.  Denser, faster growing plants require bigger spaces than smaller, slower growing plants. Suggestions for edible gardens in the home or office are green leafy vegetables and any type of shade vegetables.  Root vegetables, fruit and giant indeterminate tomatoes are not recommended. Non-edible plants selections include succulents, Boston ferns, pansies and cacti.

    The soil mix needs to be adjusted for specific plantings.  Drip irrigation systems, tubular water systems and/or recirculating water systems assist and decrease the daily maintenance.

The benefits of living walls are many.  

    Inside our homes, formaldehyde, VOC’s carbon monoxide, benzene and trichloroethylene are among many toxic chemicals invading the air we breathe.    Plants filter the air both inside and outside, absorbing toxins and producing clean oxygen. NASA published and popularized the science of plant filters, listing at least 15 plants that clean our air.  

 http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19930073077.pdf

    Vertical gardens are visually appealing-living art and produce a calming effect.  It is well know that gardening is a stress reducer.  In the home and workplace this increases efficiency and productivity.  Hospitals, assisted living and nursing homes utilize gardening and gardens as activities and places for inspiring and soothing the sick and elderly.

(Living Wall inside Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA)

    Building living walls with cutting edge design in areas that are not easily accessible to the natural green environment, such as urban areas, apartment living and in our work places can reverse the feeling of being separated from the natural world.  Bringing nature into your home and/or office increases property values and increases the perception of sustainability and modernism, while promoting a reduced carbon footprint.

    The OMNIA Group Architects is in the process of designing a living wall inside a custom designed, new home outside of the Pennsylvania area.  Living walls can be installed in new construction or existing architecture. 

OMNIA Group Architects is committed to sustainability.  Call us if you want to review your master plan. Our architects and designers bring talent, experience and exceptional customer service to every residential and commercial project. We call it Creativity Delivered. Our clients — in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and throughout the country – call it the perfect solution to their architectural needs. Our goal is to create home and work environments that make your life easier, more productive and more enjoyable.

This newsletter is yet another variation of Creativity Delivered — keeping you up to date on the latest architectural trends and on our newest projects.