Sunday, February 27, 2011

Living Green Walls, Coffee Cup Houses, & Vertical Gardens

Blog post by Tina Winterlik © 2011

Blog post by Tina Winterlik
Feb 27/2011

Inhabitat -design will save the world


Gorgeous Green House Wrapped in a Vertical Garden
by Kristi Bernick, 02/26/11
Architecture,Botanical,Gardening,green roof

This gorgeous greenery-wrapped live/work space in Linkebeek, Belgium was completed by Samyn and Partners in 2007 after 8 years of construction. In the original plans, Samyn and Partners designed the building’s walls to be covered in ivy, while a patinated copper material was chosen for the roof. It’s a blessing that this project took so long to complete -- during construction, the original concept for a “green” façade grew stronger and the ivy and copper roof were scrapped in favor of a lush living envelope that features a selection of exotic plants chosen by botanist Patrick Blanc.

Dubbed Milly Film, the mixed-use building is designed to serve as a cinematographer’s residence, production studio, and workspace. The design began with the decision to maintain the existing structure of a small one story house on the ground level. The renovation provided structure for the entry, office and kitchen for the residence, and the living room and stairway extend to the rest of the building.

Read more:

Gorgeous Green House Wrapped in a Vertical Garden Milly Film house by Samyn and Partners – Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World

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Sharp and Diamond's Vancouver Aquarium
Flower Tower by Edouard François

Randy Sharp of Sharp & Diamond, designed the Vancouver Aquarium’s 50-square-metre green wall of polypropylene modules filled with wildflowers, ferns and ground covers. It has a modular grid of wall panels, a soil or felt growing medium, and irrigation and nutrient-delivery system and a support structure; these are the virtually universal features of a living wall.

That isn't a lot to grow on, but Sharp notes that there are many native plants that cling to rocks and shallow soils and survive harsh winters. The trick is to blow all of the water out of the system before it freezes, and the plants go dormant. More on Randy Sharp's Award-winning Vancouver Aquarium wall: 2008 Award-Winning Green Roofs and Walls

The office wing of the controversial new Quai Branly Museum, designed by Jean Nouvel in Paris has a "vertical garden" installed by Patrick Blanc. The construction of the vertical gardens include layers of felt, plastic and metal sheeting which provide a barrier against damaging roots.

According to Business Week, Le Mur Végétal, or Plant Wall, is a dense sheet of vegetation that can grow against any surface, or even in midair. It works by doing away entirely with dirt, instead growing plants hydroponically in felt pockets attached to a rigid plastic backing. via ::Archidose

Floating Houses from Studio Noach- by Lloydalter

Michel Kreuger tells us that the Rexwall panels with recycled polystyrene cores will result in the following benefits:
-100% Recycled
-High insulation
-Frost impervious: because it is flexible, ice freeze up around the hull is not a problem

He claims that the floating houses address four environmental issues:

-CO2/Greenhouse issue

‘Green Floating' objects turn CO2 straight into oxygen, they love it! Bottom line even more then owners and users of the resort expel altogether. 'Green Floating' resorts are CO2 negative.

-The population issue

If you watch the globe, how colourful the continents may be, 70% of our planet is blue and full of water. Lots of water. In total 1370 km3

The Environmental Waste Issue:

"EPS, or expanded polystyrene is one of the most tough waste materials on our planet. On average it takes up to 90 years to biodegrade a polystyrene coffee cup or hamburger shell. However, the product is easy to recycle. In RexwallTM it even serves the planet."

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Sunday September 26, 2010
Wrapped in life-giving green

He’s on a mission to bring wilderness into cities.

WHEN people see one of Patrick Blanc’s “forested” walls, their reaction is almost universal: there are gasps of surprise, followed by flashes of light as camera flashbulbs go off – and then comes the need to touch the lush tendrils of living plants growing magically on a wall.

It is this interaction between human being and nature in the heart of even the most densely packed cities that makes Blanc smile.
Green man cometh: This is Patrick Blanc, botanist, artist and man who likes green ... everything, right down to his fingernails.

“Over half of the world’s population now live in cities; I think it’s very important to combine nature with cities instead of separating both from one another,” says Blanc, 56, the inventor of Le Mur Vegetal, or Vertical Garden System, a much imitated concept now.

Blanc created his first true living wall in the 1980s in Parc de la Villette in Paris. Today, his works of green art adorn over 140 walls around the world: the interiors of hotels, private homes and department stores in Bangkok, Berlin and Kuwait; luxury condominiums in Sydney; museums in Japan; and Parisian clubs. Read More Here

StarMag’s cover photo is a close up of this wall, part of London’s Hotel Athenaeum (photo provided by the hotel)

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They are also a vital part of high profile architectural works such as Jean Nouvel’s Musee du Quai Branly in Paris and the Caixa Forum in Madrid by Herzog and de Meuron.

(Nouvel and design firm Herzog and de Mueron both won architecture’s “Nobel” prize, the Pritzker Prize.)

StarMag’s cover photo is a close up of this wall, part of London’s Hotel Athenaeum
(photo provided by the hotel).

The walls are works of arts, indeed; and in a concrete jungle, a splash of living green is always refreshing, of course – but these living walls go beyond aesthetics. They can help reduce the urban heat island effect (caused by heat building up by reflecting and bouncing off the huge expanses of artificial material); they have also have proven their ability to filter air particulates, which helps improve air quality; they can filter and absorb rain, thus helping to slow storm runoff and mitigate urban flooding; and they can add welcome humidity to sealed indoor spaces that are usually dry thanks to air-conditioning.

And, of course, one of their biggest green contributions is that they can help preserve flora, as Blanc points out: “Any naked wall has the potential to be turned into a vertical garden and thus become a shelter for biodiversity."

“For a city with high levels of pollution, the garden acts as an efficient tool for air and water remediation wherever flat surfaces are already extensively used for human activities.”

How they work

Blanc’s walls can live up to 30 years and do not require pruning or trimming.

My theory is that concrete is like limestone in a way, so if plants can grow on a rock surface, why not a wall?” says the botanist.

Blanc’s vertical garden at the architecturally award-winning Caixa Forum in Madrid, Spain, has been acclaimed for spectacularly complementing the sculptural aspects of the cultural centre. – Photos courtesy of PATRICK BLANC

These plants are not rooted into the wall surface itself, though, as that would break down the structure – this is what happened to the ancient Angkor temples of Cambodia that are deteriorating so badly. Neither are they rooted in soil, as that would make them too heavy.

“The plants are grown on felt sheets because soil is just a mechanical support. They only require water, with minerals dissolved in it, and light and carbon dioxide to conduct photosynthesis. I only use plants that grow wild on rock faces,” he explains.

Blanc has perfected a system using a metal frame, a PVC layer and a felt layer to attach the plants to their vertical surfaces.

First he hangs the metal frame on a wall where it ensures an insulating layer of air. A 1cm-thick waterproof PVC sheet is fixed over the frame to protect the wall. Then a felt layer is stapled onto the PVC; into this sheet, plants are installed at a density of 30 per 1sq mthis prevents weeds from growing and creates the luxurious, forested feel.

A small, regularly-punctured hose running along the top of the installation provides water that is dissipated throughout the absorbent felt layer. Liquid fertiliser is also dispersed in this manner.

“The weight of the entire frame is only about 30kg per square metre, so it can be installed even on tall buildings,” says Blanc.

Our very own wall

The patented method should make easy work of covering the more than 600sq m wall Blanc has planned for Kuala Lumpur.

He was in town recently to visit the site of his first vertical garden in this country. It will be part of the luxury Kenny Heights development, which has brought together top names in architectural and design fields, like British designer Sir Terence Conran and Japanese architect Kengo Kuma (as told in Height of design, Spaces, StarMag, Nov 11, 2009).

Blanc will be installing a dramatic wall garden across two gigantic slabs of concrete at the two blocks of the Kuma-designed town villas in the Kenny Heights Estate.

The Estate is one part of the 35ha development straddling KL’s upmarket Kenny Hills and Damansara Heights areas, and it's emphasis is a Man-Nature connection throughout. Blanc’s wall will be an important part of creating that connection, as it will be covered with more than 50 varieties of tropical plants to create a sense of verdant luxury.

“The gardens are inspired by the huge limestone cliffs of (Pulau) Langkawi,” Blanc explains.

“They will make a stunning façade. As the walls are exposed to full sunlight, I will be using big and fluffy plants with more flowers to add colour.

The stunning Green Symphony installation at the Taipeh Concert Hall.

“And in the canyon-like space between the two blocks, I will use shade-loving species with delicate foliage softened with mosses and ferns. I hope the ultimate effect will be similar to being in front of a cliff covered with foliage.

KL has much potential for wall gardens because out of the country’s (identified) 8,000 plant species, some 2,500 grow without any soil.

Blanc is highly excited about his first project for Malaysia because it was here, in our sweltering rainforests, that he honed what was to become a lifelong passion for living walls.

Read more here

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