Category: Vertical Garden Installations (Page 2 of 6)

The History of Living Walls

A living wall is … is a vertical arrangement of plants and other organisms that naturally remove toxins and unhealthy contaminants from the air that we breathe. They can be a complete ecosystem or a simple configuration of plants and they have been introduced to decontaminate urban environments. Living walls are both indoor and outdoor.


Why plants? Plants in their very nature have served the earth. They have been essential sources to us humans and plants have supplied us with food, clothing and shelter. Now, more than half of the world’s population lives in an industrial cities where concrete structures dominate. However, with the push for healthier environments the world is turning back to green and designers, architects and planners are including plants as a way to improve existing infrastructural aesthetics. Also, green infrastructure is said to provide cleaner air and water, and improve the overall environment, human health and human mental wellbeing.


History repeating itself?  Vertical gardens aren’t new. In fact, they’re an ancient concept with examples in architectural history reaching the Babylonians.  One of the seven wonders of the ancient world includes the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon.  

History says that Romans used to train grapevines, on garden trellises and on villa walls. Also, climbing roses were the symbols of secret gardens.


1920’s: There was a garden city moment  from the British and Americans which encouraged the integration of garden features and plant usage, for example, using pergolas, trellis structures and self climbing plants.

1988: There was the introduction of the stainless steel cable for green facades.

1990s: Cable and wire rope net systems and modular tellis panel systems enter the market place

1993: The first major application of the new trellis panel system was featured at the Universal City Walk in California. It’s a stunning example of what a lovely feature plants can make in a city.

1994: InCanada, in theCanadaLifeBuildinginToronto, an indoor living wall was created an indoor with bio-filtration system

2002: A stunning example of a living wall is found in theMFOPark. It is multi-tiered approximately 300 inches long and 50 inches high. The park structure opened inZurich,Switzerland. This project had 1,300 plants.


2005: Japanese Federal government sponsored a massive Bio Lung exhibit, the centre piece of the expo in AichiJapan. This wall had 30 different modular systems available inJapan.

2007:Seattleimplements the Green Factor, which includes green walls.

Today: If you are decorating, you always have the option to implement a green wall whether its internally or externally. All you have to do is make sure that your wall will get enough sunlight.  It might be wise to check out some of the kits which are very easy to use and put together


Also, when creating a living wall – it is also a piece of living artwork! So, have fun and think carefully about the plants that you wish to include. To ensure that you get the maximum environmental benefits  there are specific plants which are perfect for helping reduce toxins including: bamboo, chrysanthemums, spider plants, English ivy, elephant ear philodendron, peace lily.

Van Gogh Vertical Garden in London’s Trafalgar Square

Must see: For the first time ever, a painting has been brought to life and made into a living wall!  It’s exciting and it’s spectacular and when you first walk past , you might think that it’s actually a painting. But look closely – plants!!!  Anyway, this piece of art is  available for the world to see until October 2012.  So, if you’re inLondon for the Olympics, get yourself to Trafalgar Square and plant yourself in front of the wall of the National Gallery (which also has free entry) and check out this spectacular piece of living wall art.

The National Gallery together with GE selected a painting called ‘A Wheatfield, with Cypresses’. This work of art was painted by Van Gogh whilst he was a patient at the St-Remy mental asylum. Note: the original work of art is available for viewing in Room 45 of the National Gallery.  Remember, that this painting was crafted by one man in 1889. Now, to create living wall art of the same caliber and complexity using plants, a team of designers had to form together to develop a plan,  bringing the masterpiece back to life.



How they created the living wall art: To recreate the genius of Van Gogh the designers were essentially using a different medium which brought many different issues of texture and colour. They selected over 8,000 plants and used more than 26 varieties to mimic the strong bands of colour which are found in the original picture. The varieties included in the design had to match the different brush strokes and the different textures.


The designers used a Living Walling System. The system they used had 640 modules which were grown before in a nursery. A predetermined design was important to ensure that they could match the painting. Grid-like modules were used which indicated where varieties should be planted.


Once the plants had mostly grown, the individual modules were transported to London. The plants had to be put together in the right sequence to create the picture as a whole.


Within a tight timeframe of three days, the modules were then hung vertically inTrafalgar Square for the world to see the incredible living wall.


The living wall does need slight maintenance and this is carried out fortnightly throughout the UK spring and summer. The general maintenance includes visual checks of plant health, watering and pruning. However, this walling system does include an in-built irrigation system to ensure that the plants are watered regularly.



Why did they do it: The National Gallery embarked on this project to stimulate interest in its paintings. Also, the National Gallery has a commitment to being environmentally responsible and they have a plan to increase energy efficiency and reduce their carbon emissions by up to 40% within a four year period. This single but spectacular project alone is 62% of the gallery’s target emissions.



How to Find it: Travelling roundLondon head straight to Trafalgar Square. Your closet tube stations are Charring Cross /Piccadilly Circus / Leicester Square Underground station. It’s an easy walk from there!


Comments: Please send us a comment if you have seen it or if you have any questions on how you can create something like this!

Five Shades of Green on London’s Living Wall

Just two train stops from the official London Olympics site is a spectacular example of living wall art.  It is also Europe’s tallest living wall and it sits quite proudly on Digby Road. This artwork can be found on the side of an award winning and eco-friendly apartment block in Central London, Hackney. The vertical living wall is fourteen stories high with plants climbing the façade of the building and they wrap over to the roof into a garden for the residents to enjoy.

London’s living wall in Digby Road consists of evergreens which have been cleverly selected. The plants have been installed into the concrete cladding where the designers have created a green tapestry which covers one wall of the apartments. The design is eye catching, where the shape is formed like a series of rolling waves on the side of the building – they rise and fall in curves. The landscaped wave designs have been created by planting five distinct species which are indeed five different shades of green. The evergreens have also been selected to add another texture to the building, and the green colour compliments the terracotta paintwork.

The survival of these plants was of great importance to ensure that the vertical wall art remained aesthetically pleasing to all passers by – all year round. Especially since London is known to have four seasons in one day, the landscape designers have taken great lengths to choose the right species of plants. No matter what the weather, the artwork was selected to remain intact –  and evergreens were selected as plants which were considered the most suitable for any weather condition. It happens that even if London is warm or cold – the evergreens will remain green and the beauty of the artwork will be maintained.

The building and the living wall art have both won numerous awards including one of the most respected property awards, being the Estates Gazette’s (EG) Green Award.  The green walling system not only provides insulation from solar gain, but it aids natural rain filtration.  The insulation benefits are both thermal and acoustic aspects as the green wall itself absorbs sound – which is a great benefit to an inner city apartment block with 96 units. Also, since the green wall in Digby Road has been erected in such an urban area, the wall itself helps improve local air quality, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen to the resident’s windows near by.

The environmentally friendly wall art on Digby Road is indeed stunning. It was affixed to the wall not only to improve the aesthetics of a redeveloped building in Central London but it works to protect the building façade and deter graffiti which is always prevalent in a large city.

You too can create your own vertical garden whether it’s on a refurbished or new building. Green walling systems are virtually maintenance free. They are easy to install, and can be fixed to most structures including timber, concrete, and steel. Please feel free to browse our site for more creative vertical garden ideas. It’s easy to make  something spectacular that both you and your friends will love.


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