Cities around the world are choking in a cloud of air pollution, and now rising seas threaten to leave them drowning in flood waters. Awash in black rooftops and gray sidewalks, it may seem like anything green, healthy and alive fled cities a long time ago. Is there anything positive to be seen in urban areas around the world?
The answer is yes. Around the world, some of the largest cities in the world are turning to simple tactics like green rooftops and living walls to restore nature to its proper place of prominence. By replacing heat-absorbing brick and mortar walls with living shrubs, grasses, flowers and trees, many landscape designers hope to save energy, filter toxins out of the air and prevent much-needed rainwater from escaping down the drain.
“Studies have shown that the surface of an exterior green wall is up to 10°C cooler than an exposed wall, therefore considerably less heat is radiated inward. Not only do green walls reduce cooling requirements but they also help to mitigate the urban heat island effect,” explains Green Over Grey.
In celebration of this simple way to conserve and beautify our urban environments, let’s take a look at five of the most awesome living walls from around the world.
Image via Rain Communications
Palace Hotel, Victoria, London
Featuring over 10,000 ferns, herbaceous plants and 16 tons of soil, the new living wall at the Palace Hotel in Victoria has earned the title of London’s largest living wall. It was designed to attract wildlife such as bees, butterflies and birds to the urban environment as well as to conserve water, reports EarthTechling. ”The living wall is irrigated using rainwater harvested from the roofs and stored in tanks before being fed through the wall, from which it evaporates,” said the designer in a statement. “In this sense the project is a sustainable drainage system.”
Image via Inhabitat
Milan‘s Il Fiordaliso Shopping Center
Accepted as the world’s largest living wall by the Guinness Book of World Records, this 13,594 square foot living wall decorates the exterior of the Il Fiordaliso shopping center. Incorporating 44,000 plants, the wall “cuts down on Il Fiordaliso’s energy consumption, blocking solar gain and insulating in the colder months. The plants also absorb noise and emissions from cars idling in the nearby parking lot,” according to Inhabitat.
Changi Airport, Singapore
Called the “Green Wall,” this five-story, 300 meter long vertical garden in the Singapore Changi Airport ”is covered with climbing plants and is interspersed with four cascading waterfalls (helping to regulate the internal temperature),” according to Airport Technology.
Image via A Green Roof
Completed in 2009, this 2,380-foot green wall is located at PNC’s headquarters in Pittsburgh. Made from 602 panels of soil and plants fitted into 2×2-square-foot spaces, the wall features many regional plants, all acquired locally within 500 miles of downtown Pittsburgh. “Despite harboring so many plants, the wall requires just 15 minutes of watering per week in warmer months and 15 minutes per month in winter,” reports Fast Company.
Image via Trend Hunter
Urbanarbolism Green Wall, Elche, Spain
This massive vertical garden extends upward for three stories in an Elche office building. It’s located in the building’s foyer, so that employees and visitors can both marvel at its size and take advantage of its calming benefits. It’s planted with a combination of bamboo, evergreens and ivy to “optimize interior CO2 management for passive air purification” and avoid “sick-building syndrome.”
Do you know of an awesome living wall that belongs on this list? Tell us about it in the comments!
Image via Thinkstock