Trending in Design: Living Walls

Living and faux-Living Walls are a trendy and naturally sustainable solution to revolutionize any space with the presence of lush elements designed to bridge boundaries of indoor/ outdoor spaces.  A vertical wall or structure comprised of low maintenance plants that can be used in interior or exterior applications as an alternative to a greener environment in urban areas. Created by using modular framework, planter boxes are scaled according to the size of the wall. A network of self-watering pipes may be implemented and hidden behind a variety of foliage for low maintenance watering, depending on the greenery selected and level of maintenance necessary. Succulents and other drought resistant greenery are popular choices due to the limited upkeep required, durability and adaptive nature, indoors and outdoors.  Living plants create visual interest, lower overall energy costs, increase value of property and provide a multitude of benefits stemming from biophilic design.

O Wilson, an American Biologist and theorist believed human beings’ bond with other living systems in the built environment is essential. Biophilia is the study of human desire and need for connection to nature and environments. Surrounded by Biophilic design integrates nature and natural patterns into the process of architecture and building. He believed environments should reflect and encourage a symbiotic relationship between people and innate desire for green spaces. Today, living walls have taken precedence as an emerging trend in workplace and hospitality design, occurrence of greenery into a living wall has significantly shifted in recent design trends. Research of historic architecture designates that biophilic design has been employed as far back as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon with lush foliage adoring the walls and architectural facades. Overall, people feel better, are healthier, more productive and more sociable in green surroundings.

Living Wall Benefits

| Marketing |

  • Clients tend to stay longer and feel better about spending time in environments where nature is present
  • Prospective clients are more inclined to revisit areas surrounded by manicured landscape
  • Living Signage improves an organization’s look by incorporating similar colors or pattern into their corporate logo
  • Demonstrates stewardship of environment, ecosystem and overall health & wellness
  • Stronger Sales & Profitability, the more polished and meticulous the environment, clients are more inclined to invest and increase budgets

| Health and Well-being |

  • Faster recovery from illness and surgery
  • Enhance experience for staff, patients, and visitors in medical and healthcare environments
  • Presence of greenery has been linked to feelings of safety and a comforting environment
  • Decreases level of anxiety and cortisol levels when access and interaction with plants is encouraged
  • Living and working in a green environment has a positive effect on the well-being of people.
  • Greenery offers relaxation and reduces stress.

| Performance and Productivity |

  • Human beings have an innate desire to spend time in and connect with nature.
  • Living walls help to trigger the biophilic response to improve productivity and performance, boost in mood, sharper focus and ultimately a stronger immune system.
  • Greater attendance, improved staff retention and fewer overall complaints
  • Reduce mental and physical fatigue, improved overall focus
  • Higher academic performance and retention and output
  • Sempre Green, found that a green workplace can result in a 15% increase in productivity, yield a positive effect on people, and enhance employee satisfaction.

| Air Quality |

  • Plants act as natural air filters, pulling toxins and pollutants out of the air as well as producing more oxygen and creating a cleaner breathing environment
  • Natural Humidity – Living walls release water vapor that creates a cooling effect and adds healthy moisture for dry winter months
  • Reduced Particulates – reduction of airborne particulates that cause irritation of eyes, ears, mouth and nose
  • Increased Oxygen – Plants naturally infuse air with oxygen while reducing carbon dioxide
  • Reduced Carbon – Plants absorb CO2 than they release, creating a cool effecting and reducing the need for mechanical AC units
  • Reduced Heat – decreased need for air conditioning
  • Greenery absorbs about 50% of sunlight, 30% is then reflected creating a cooler and more pleasant microclimate with 33% less air conditioning is required

| Food Production |

  • Urban farming is a rising movement taking hold in densely populated rural and suburban areas providing an option for low maintenance food production for restaurants, seniors, health care providers and homeowners

| Community |

  • Contribute to healthy communities, increase civic participation and reduce crime rates
  • Urban greenery/ living walls occupying ground level spaces tend to receive less vandalism, littering, and see less violence than do areas without landscape. More time is spent outside by the public creating a safer sense of community for current and potential residents
  • Landscaped communities are more attractive to potential customers, clients and those working within the environment

| Conservation |

  • Vertical gardens or live walls contribute to conservation efforts
  • Restore the habitat – Presence of plants and soil promote the habitation of pollinators, butterflies and other birds and insects in many exterior installations
  • Protect Envelope – Living walls absorb sunlight and protect from direct UV exposure on the building surface
  • Save Energy – Used outdoors, exteriors facing direct sunlight may see a reduction in HVAC costs during hot summers.

| Artistic Expression |

  • Opportunity for sustainable artistry – live walls act as canvas to employ creative and artistic expression
  • Paint with plants – transform living wall or garden into a live canvas with full spectrum of colors and plants
  • Living Art – allow organizations or community to express themselves in countless ways
  • Dynamic Works – Living art adapts and transforms every environment it occupies.
  • This ever-evolving work of art creates a diverse and unique experience for each viewer.

Living walls provide a broad range of benefits ranging from health and well-being, productivity, mood, social, economic to enhancing overall user experience. They are a beautiful and contemporary tool to enhance public exposure and captivate any viewer.