Green and Living Walls

Incorporating greenery into the city, where land is at a premium, has always been a challenge. In the UK our cities were fortunate to have had parks planned as part of their growth in the 19th century. The philanthropic aim of enabling the urban population which lives in increasingly crowded conditions to have access to open green space is not always easily achieved. Today urban spaces are usually created within new high rise developments and are more outdoor civic areas than traditional green Park.

The green wall is one way of introducing planting into the dense urban landscape. Constructing a vertical tray system so that planting can effectively cover the face of a building is a way of visually softening the urban environment as well as providing a vital habitat for insects and birds.

Green walls are also particularly beneficial in urban environments where they help to reduce the build up of heat, remove dust and other particles in the air, add a useful layer of insulation to buildings in both winter and summer, reduce traffic noise, and altogether provide a gentler, greener environment and a better quality of life for city dwellers. If you are interested in further reading about the benefits of green walls and other greening of our built environment, Arup have published their research in a report entitled Cities Alive: Green Building Envelope.

Some forward-thinking companies have now developed a green hoarding system to replace the standard ply or OSB hoardings that are still seen on most construction sites. Standard hoarding is only expected to last for the duration of the construction and then usually discarded. This system, using galvanised steel mesh at its core (with a life span of up to 45 years), is designed to be transported to other sites and reused, so greatly reducing waste, uplifting the appearance of construction sites, capturing particulate matter and improving the environment for the duration of a building project.

At LBR Architecture, being based near the Norfolk/Suffolk border, we tend to have a majority of clients who live or work in rural settings. Although green walls are equally relevant in the countryside, they have less impact on the environment than they do in urban areas. For this reason our studio has developed a living wall that focuses on enhancing rural biodiversity by helping to enhance bird and insect populations.

One of the ‘living walls’ we developed has been used on a recently approved Paragraph 79 project located in ancient woodland. It comprises an outer layer to the external wall of the building, constructed of recycled timber with gaps behind and between the boards.

This design brings a range of benefits to the building and the environment:

1. It uses sustainable, recycled timber to create a rain screen to the building, a low carbon solution for a cladding material.

2. The visual appearance of recycled timber naturally fits in with the rural landscape. The timber can be stained if required to give a degree of uniformity of appearance.

3. The cladding gives shelter and provides a habitat to a wide range of birds and insects. It has a similar effect to the habitat provided by the partially decayed trees found naturally in woodland.

4. And of course, just as with urban green walls, it absorbs surrounding sounds rather than reflecting them.

Contact us via email or on the links below if you are interested in finding out more about constructing projects with green or living walls.

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