The most exciting trend in real estate is a growing, living thing – literally. Living walls are at the forefront of today’s most compelling design trends, and there are many reasons for this. You’ll see them at any number of places – high-end shops, trendy spas, upper-crust restaurants and hotels, intimate clubs, and pretty much anywhere looking to add some distinction to their design. Here we’ll look at some of the benefits, the applications (both residential and commercial), the value that is added by using living walls, and how you – yes, you! – can create one easily, along with some of the best examples of living walls out there.
Adding Benefits, Increasing ValueIf you’re considering adding a living wall to your property, you may well already be aware of the many benefits that come along with this feature. However, there are some that may surprise you. Read on. First off, if you’re part of a company seeking to promote its green character, there are few better ways to do it than to walk the walk. Your customers want to see that you not only want to sell this lifestyle, but that you want to actually live it. Living walls help you communicate directly with these types of customers, who are growing in numbers by the day. Moreover, if you’re thinking about ways to increase your property value, look no further. In today’s green-conscious economy, homebuyers and commercial consumers alike are drawn to unique design elements that communicate environmentalism in a singular, smart manner. That’s a living wall right there. In fact, experts estimate that real estate values can jump as much as 20 percent through the presence of greenery alone. That’s one easy way to earn money! On that same note, plants in your place of business have been proven to increase your customer base. Installing a living wall makes that endeavor an easy one – it will retain customers in your place of business, thereby increasing the chances that they will spend money there. Acoustics are another benefit of a living wall – specifically, the fact that plant leaves are shown to mitigate loud sounds through reflection, refraction, and absorption of acoustic energy, with the amount of noise reduction proportional to the amount of plant life in a room. Since living walls contain a great deal of plant life, you can truly improve your acoustics with their presence alone. Finally, sustainability is a major benefit from installing a living wall in your home or place of business. It’s a logical progression: living walls contribute to energy efficiency in a home or other type of building. In turn, carbon emissions are decreased. Moreover, living walls are known to absorb and filter stormwater, cut pollution, mitigate the urban heat island effect, and act as carbon sinks.
ApplicationsNow that you know the many advantages of putting a living wall in your space, you’ve likely decided it’s time to take the plunge and install one for yourself. First, we should say that the sky literally is the limit when it comes to the type of applications you may choose to suit your own purposes, but we’d like to offer up a few ideas we’ve found intriguing over time. Take, for example, the city of London’s largest living plant wall: a 21-meter (nearly 69-foot) installation with 10,000 plants and 16 tons of soil. It was installed to mitigate flooding in the city, according to designer Gary Grant of Green Roof Consultancy. Grant’s design covers the entire façade of an exterior wall at the Rubens at the Palace hotel in the Victoria area – a 350-square-meter (nearly 3800 square feet) and is comprised by many different types of plants all recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society as most likely to draw wildlife such as butterflies, birds, and bees to the urban environment. Then there’s the Mexico City home whose slate façade gives way to a three-story wall of plants created by local architect Paul Cremoux, whose Paul Cremoux Studio sought to combat the country’s perceived lack of sustainable building with a project that moderates its own internal climate with plants while at the same time offering an interior garden for residents. “Making sustainable eco-effective design in Mexico is pretty hard,” Cremoux told the online publication De Zeen. “Many clients do not yet realize the importance of changing the design strategy.” He went on to emphasize that he sees vegetation not only as a practical device for comfort control or a “beautiful energetic view”, but rather an element that acts somewhat as a light curtain. The wall itself lines up along a middle-floor courtyard terrace that is open to the sky at one end, while most of the home’s rooms are both above and below said terrace.
How Can I Create a Living Wall?Since we just did this, it’s a perfect time to ask. Start by finding the perfect space for your needs. That could be an interior or exterior wall, a small or spacious area. You might consider something a little more modest if you’re doing this for the first time – but then again, don’t be afraid to go all-out! Then build a frame, keeping in mind that you need a strong and solid structure that can be safely hung on the wall. Most people opt for plastic when it comes to this task. You’ll then have to attach a plastic sheet to the frame in order to prevent leaks. After this, you’ll need to attach a layer of fabric to the frame in order to create your plants’ foundation. Make sure to use a material that will not only let roots grow through, but also effectively retains water. Many people use felt for this job. You can also go the automated route and aim for a more hydroponic set up with scheduled watering system. These are best for larger applications. Next come irrigation and fertilizing systems, both of which benefit from expert help. Finally, you’ll then have to choose and insert the plants you’re going to use for your wall – and the types are completely your call. You’ve got yourself a living wall!
Best WallsWhile there are many fantastic examples of living walls out there, here are nine that we think particularly stand out. Check them out and see if you can’t find some inspiration. Good luck!
- Musee du quai Branly (Paris)
- CaixaForum (Madrid)
- LinkedIn headquarters (Sunnyvale, CA)
- Hotel Miami (Miami)
- 888 Brannan Street (San Francisco)
- Cervezas Moritz Brewery (Barcelona)
- Shanghai Natural History Museum
- Gary Grant Stefano Boeri’s “vertical forest” (Milan)
- Largest exterior living wall in North America – Guildford Town Center