Breathing Architecture: Green Facades and Living Walls

Karissa A
SAVE

With infinite benefits such as improved air quality, aesthetic improvement, reduction of urban heat island effect and energy efficiency, building structures are now covered with greenery. From the freestanding trellis system of green facades to the in-built wall modules of the living wall system, architectural facades are now brimming with life literally and figuratively.

GREEN FACADES

Modular Trellis Panel System

The modular building blocks of this green facade system comprises of lightweight and rigid 3D panels built from the formation of galvanized and welded powder-coated steel wire. With the three-dimensional panels acting as support system for the plants, it is designed to have a face grid and a panel depth off the wall surface to provide breathing room for the plants. Detachment of the plant system from the building surface itself maintains the strong structural integrity of the building as well as it provides a concentrated growing environment for the supported tendrils of the living plants.

Due to the rigidity of the 3D panels, applications can range from long-span structures and free-standing green walls. Albeit rigid, these panels can also be stacked, joined and formed freely into shapes and curves. Additionally, architectural applications of this green facade system can also be used for view isolation of fences and screens, concealment of eyesore mechanical equipment such as HVAC units and noise barrier from highways.

Cable and Wire-Rope Net System

As the name suggests, this green facade system makes use of cables and/or wire net. While both systems use high-tensioned steel cables and anchors, cables are used on climbing plants with faster growing rate and thicker foliage while wire-nets are utilized for the slower-growing fauna due to the close intervals of this support system. Also, wire-net system provides more flexibility than cables in terms of the design application. Stainless steel vertical wire ropes are intersected with horizontal wire rods through UV-resistant cross clamps to form the nodes of the rectangular grid. Pattern variation of the wire-rope net system provides a wide range of application such as greening of columns, courtyard, schools, parks, broad-scale developments and pergolas.

LIVING WALLS

Landscape Wall

Rather than freestanding or detached, landscape wall incorporates the plant system as an integral component of the engineering structures. Particular landscape elements such as berms, stabilized banks, gabion walls and vegetated sound barriers are used for noise mitigation, slope stability and erosion control. Aesthetically formed in an inclined and slanting manner rather than vertical, landscape walls can be formed from the stacking of concrete or plastic blocks with spaces for foliage to grow. With architectural principles such as functionality and aesthetics in its core, this living wall system is often applied on the environmental remediation of deteriorating industrial sites and embellishment of large-scale landscapes such as transport corridors.

Vegetated Mat Walls

Pioneered by French botanist Patrick Blanc, "Mur Vegetal" is a unique form of in situ living green wall employing the felt layer-based system. Initially, this half-prepared system installs the two layers of artificial fabric walls and then finally, plants are installed at the created pockets of the living wall facade. The two felt layers are structurally supported by a frame and separated from the building wall with a waterproof membrane due to the high moisture content. To support the plants from the landscape pockets, hydroponic technology or drip-feed irrigation system is utilized for the water cycling and distribution of nutrients downwards. Commonly seen outdoors, vegetated mat walls can also adorn the interior spaces of a building.

What other green facade or living wall systems have you incorporated on your design? Please leave your comments below!

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