The Living Wall Concept

author : Wajiha Haydri
5 years ago
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The whole idea of a living wall concept was driven from one source “The Hanging Gardens of Babylon” and has ever since been evolving with architecture. Living walls, walls that breathe and eat just like you and add nothing but beauty to the place they are in. As the world of architecture is evolving with amazing buildings and concepts coming to life so Amer Adnan Associates introduces the concept of living walls. These walls breathe eat and live like us except they are much more pleasant and beautiful to look at. The sheer joy a person has from having a bit of nature or something from Mother Nature is simply euphoric. Living walls are now not a thing of the future but a luxury of the present and more living wall concepts are coming to life as we speak.

The idea of the living walls or the green walls is derived from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon around 600 BC. The Hanging Garden was one of the Seven Wonders of the World in the ancient world, and till date has been legendary. The gardens came into existence when Neo-Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II who built them for his homesick wife Amytis, she longed for her plants in her homeland and was gifted the gardens. Philo of Byzantium, whose list of seven wonders of the ancient world is used widely, gives an accurate description of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as

“The Hanging Gardens [is so-called because it] has plants cultivated at a height above ground level, and the roots of the trees are embedded in an upper terrace rather than in the earth. This is the technique of its construction. The whole mass is supported on stone columns, so that the entire underlying space is occupied by carved column bases. The columns carry beams set at very narrow intervals. The beams are palm trunks, for this type of wood – unlike all others – does not rot and, when it is damp and subjected to heavy pressure, it curves upwards. Moreover it does itself give nourishment to the root branches and fibres, since it admits extraneous matter into its folds and crevices. This structure supports an extensive and deep mass of earth, in which are planted broad-leaved trees of the sort that are commonly found in gardens, a wide variety of flowers of all species and, in brief, everything that is most agreeable to the eye and conducive to the enjoyment of pleasure. The whole area is ploughed in just the same way as solid ground, and is just as suitable as other soil for grafting and propagation. Thus it happens that a ploughed field lies above the heads of those who walk between the columns below. Yet while the upper surface of the earth is trampled underfoot, the lower and denser soil closest to the supporting framework remains undisturbed and virgin. Streams of water emerging from elevated sources flow partly in a straight line down sloping channels, and are partly forced upwards through bends and spirals to gush out higher up, being impelled through the twists of these devices by mechanical forces. So, brought together in frequent and plentiful outlets at a high level, these waters irrigate the whole garden, saturating the deep roots of the plants and keeping the whole area of cultivation continually moist. Hence the grass is permanently green, and the leaves of trees grow firmly attached to supple branches, and increasing in size and succulence with the constant humidity. For the root [system] is kept saturated and sucks up the all-pervading supply of water, wandering in interlaced channels beneath the ground, and securely maintaining the well-established and excellent quality of trees. This is a work of art of royal luxury [lit. ‘riotous living’], and its most striking feature is that the labor of cultivation is suspended above the heads of the spectators.”

Bringing this concept to life and being the patent to modern Green Wall was inventorStanley Hart White, who used integrated Hydroponics for this concept. As every idea evolves with time, so did the hydroponics technology and this is now being used for the modern vertical gardens. There are usually two types of green walls; one is called Green Facades and the second known as the Living Walls. The Green facades are the ones which are quiet popular among people as it seems more natural. The reason it seems this natural or close to nature is because of the climbing plants which crawl or grow along the walls. The walls are covered completely with these plants and a whole look of being surrounded by nature is given. The plant itself grows up the building while having its roots in the ground, with the living walls the modular panels are often made of geotextiles,irrigation systems stainless steel containers,vegetation and a growing medium.

Going further into Living walls there are three types of growth media used loose media,Mat media and Structural mediaLoose media is for the soil on a shelf or soil in a bag kind of systems; the soil for these plants is either placed on a shelf or a bag and then is installed in the wall. The system revolves around the replacing of the media exteriorly every once in a years and the interior about twice a year. This particular medium is messy and not good at all for areas high in seismic activity. The soil is loosed little by little over time either by the conditions (wind, rain) or with public interactivity.

Mat media is used for coir fibre or felt mats, they are quiet thin with their multiple layers and the mat is soon taken over by the roots of heavier plants easily. The solution left is not a good one because as the mats thicken with roots a whole section of the mat is cut out and replaced so the water can pass through easily. This process is extremely harmful as the neighboring plants lose their roots and others are cut short in the process. This particular medium is good for Interior of walls as small plants with smaller roots are used so the mat is not ripped with their own weight. Light weight plants are used which are smaller in size yet elegantly used in interiors. The only problem seen with this medium is of the irrigation system as the mat is not thick enough to hold the water and irrigate all the roots. A constant irrigation system has to be installed for the water to keep moving around all the roots. Mat mediums are perfect for small installations not more than several feet in height and where repairs are done quite easily.

As for the Structural media, we would be continuing it in our next article with complete details. We hope to bring much more in the next article on exactly who to contact for Living Walls Concept or terrace & rooftop gardens.

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