What are Living Walls?

Updated: Apr 28


Chiswick Cinema, London

Living walls, also known as green walls and vertical gardens, are vertical structures consisting of plants, an irrigation system, and soil, substrate or hydroculture felt. Living walls can be situated indoors or outdoors with plants tailored to suit specific locations of the wall dependent on light, shelter, and prevailing winds. They not only reinvigorate empty spaces in public and residential buildings but can also improve urban biodiversity, air purification, water recycling, and insulation. You can find more information about the benefits of interior and exterior living walls on our blog.



THE HISTORY OF LIVING WALLS


The inspiration for living walls could be theorised to have its origins in one of the ancient seven wonders of the world, the hanging gardens of Babylon, from the sixth century B.C. It is believed to be a gift from the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II to his wife Amytis and is debated as one of the first known uses of a complex irrigation system, although concrete evidence of its existence has still not been established. The system, if it was indeed real, would have had to use an incredible 8,200 gallons of water a day to keep the plants alive.


The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, by Ferdinand Knab, 1886

The first known use of a modern-day living wall as we know it was pioneered in the 1930s by the landscape architect professor at the University of Illinois, Stanley Hart White, who named them ‘Botanical Bricks’. White is now cemented in the history books as his birthday marks ‘Green Wall Day’ on February 15th. Stanley Hart White’s invention then went on to inspire Patrick Blanc a French botanist who revolutionised the use and popularity of living walls or Mur Végétal. Inspired by wild jungles, he is widely travelled and documents his insightful field trips in episodes that can be found on his website. Blanc has also written numerous articles and several books on the subject. His most notable living wall to date is located in Madrid and is on the wall of the Caixa Forum Museum, but he has created hundreds of vertical gardens around the globe.


La Caixa Forum Museum, Madrid

THE RECORD BREAKER


Living walls have seen an incredible surge in popularity over the last few years, with larger-scale vertical greenery popping up in cities all around the world. The largest to date was made in 2020 in Khalifa Avenue, Qatar. Spanning 7,000 square meters, it is the current world record holder, carpeting the sides of a major overpass in conditions that can reach and exceed 50ºC. A challenging environment for plants to thrive…an impressive feat!



Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

SINGAPORE - THE GREEN CITY


Singapore’s country-wide eco-initiative has resulted in being dubbed the green city of Asia. The number of green buildings and living walls increased from 17 in 2005 to over 2,100 in 2014, with a target of 80% of buildings (by floor area) in the country to be covered in living walls by 2030. Singapore currently hosts the largest living wall in Asia at the country’s Institute of Technical Education, completed in 2015 and reaching heights of 35 meters and spanning a total area of 5,300 square meters. Singapore loves plants so much the country has built structures to mimic their features in the famous Gardens by the Bay, with incredible cylindrical tree-shaped buildings wrapped in a blanket of living walls.



Residential Garden, London

OUR LIVING WALLS


Here at Verti-Grow, we use a pod and plate loose media system, with plants potted individually in pods and attached in an offset pattern to plates on the building walls, with an irrigation system to provide a consistent water supply. You can read about our living wall system and installation process in more detail on our website. We use plants to accommodate different environmental conditions - using Liriope, a genus of grass-like plants for sunny areas, Heuchera, and Asplenium for shadier spots, and Peace Lillies for indoor air purification.




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