What are living walls?
Vertical Landscapes in terms of modular green walls add life and art to the interiors and exteriors of building envelopes, providing architects, designers and property owners with new creative possibilities.When many people first hear the term “living walls,” they think of ivy covered houses and other buildings. Though the appearance might be similar, the execution is very different. Ivy growing up a wall is anchored in the ground. Though it may produce tendrils that grow roots into the wall, its main source of nutrients and water is still the soil at the base of the wall.
Green walls, also known as living walls and vertical gardens, are walls, either interior or exterior, may be free-standing or part of a building that are constructed from modular panels, each of which contains its own soil or other growing medium. This increases the variety of plants that can be used beyond the use of climbing vines.
History of living walls:
The concept of the green wall dates back to 600 BC with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The modern green wall with integrated hydroponics was invented by Stanley Hart White at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1931-38.
some more information about living walls:
There are a couple of terms which can be used for a green wall and is based on the space where the green wall is being used or installed for different purposes. The vegetation for a green wall is always attached on outside walls. Some green walls can also be applied for interiors which are green walls for interior use. When the use is interior based, the wall may be termed as Living wall. For living walls there are many methods including attaching to the air return of the building to help with air filtration. These walls in such cases may be referred to as biowalls, vertical gardens or more scientifically VCW (vertical vegetated complex walls)
More recently, the larger green walls concept has been utilized with innovative hydroponics technology.
Benefits of living walls:
- Living walls are extremely space efficient. Living walls make use of vertical walls – areas that would otherwise be wasted space in the garden. In small city lots, they are a perfect way to expand your garden and increase the number of plants you can grow.
- Living walls can help cut your heating and cooling bills. On exterior walls, both the growing medium and the plants themselves provide insulation and shade to the sides of buildings, cutting heating and cooling bills, in many regions significantly. Interior walls provide insulation. The insulating qualities of living walls also make excellent sound barriers to reduce street noise.
- Living walls can help cut your food bills. A number of edible plants can be grown on living walls, including many herbs, salad greens, and other vegetables and fruits.
- Living walls can provide an urban refuge for wildlife. Depending on the plants chosen, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife may visit exterior living walls.
- Living walls are beautiful. Instead of looking at the boring side of a building, you can look at a veritable explosion of greenery and flowers. Studies have shown that people whose windows look out on green spaces and other natural areas report lower stress, higher satisfaction in their job and personal lives, and other benefits.
- Save Space. Vertical Landscapes allow the planting of gardens in apartments, foyers, terraces and other places where floor space is limited.
- Air Quality Improvement Vertical Landscapes absorb gaseous pollutants and breathe in carbon-dioxide through photosynthesis, while trapping airborne particulate matter. The plants breathe oxygen into the air leading to reduced air-conditioning requirements and reduced greenhouse gases, thereby lowering your carbon footprint.
- Building Protection and Insulation Vertical Landscapes insulate buildings against noise and outside temperature changes, leading to significant air-conditioning savings and extension of the building envelope life. Vertical Landscapes shield buildings from ultra-violet rays and acidic rain.
- Ecological benefits Vertical Landscapes provide protected spaces for birds, bees and butterflies, contributing to biological diversity.
- Reduction of Heat Island Effect Heat Islands are a phenomenon caused by the centralised heat produced by our cities through vehicle exhaust, air conditioners, and massive quantities of heat-absorbing asphalt and concrete. Vertical Landscapes directly reduce this effect. When moisture evaporates from plants, heat is consumed.
- Increased property value As Vertical Landscapes last indefinitely, they will add to the value of your property.
- Green Building Credits The installation of Vertical Landscapes can earn property developers green building credits.
With numerous benefits , be it saving spaces, improving air quality, reducing heat islands, appreciating property values, ecological sensitivity and what not, green walls definitely are emerging as the future for a brighter , cleaner and a greener tomorrow
GREEN WALLS AND THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT:
Green walls are found most often in urban environments where the plants reduce overall temperatures of the building. The primary cause of heat build-up in cities is insolation, the absorption of solar radiation by roads and buildings in the city and the storage of this heat in the building material and its subsequent re-radiation. Plant surfaces however, as a result of transpiration, do not rise more than 4–5 °C above the ambient and are sometimes cooler.
Living walls may also be a means for water reuse. The plants may purify slightly polluted water also known as grey water, by absorbing the dissolved nutrients. Bacteria mineralize the organic components to make them available to the plants.
Living walls are particularly suitable for cities, as they allow good use of available vertical surface areas. They are also suitable in arid areas, as the circulating water on a vertical wall is less likely to evaporate than in horizontal gardens.
The living wall could also function for urban agriculture, urban gardening, or for its beauty as art. It is sometimes built indoors to help alleviate sick building syndrome.
Green walls have slowly and steadily started making a mark in the urban fabric .Also apart from the role the green walls play in the urban environment, general benefits of green walls is described further.