" To plant trees is to give body and life to one's dreams of a better world " Russell Page

Monday, November 26, 2012

Vegitecture - Green Wall Project in Barcelona

After the last post about the absurd tree chopping I can bring some really nice novelties from Barcelona too!
I don't know you, but I'm getting a bit bored with the current green walls frenzy... I still think that Patrick Blanc has done some incredible work, but there are more and more not so great "clone projects" around the world which frankly do not have the same result.
Some seem just plain and forced copies - I mean, Blanc is a true botanist and the plant choice he uses is very fine tuned to the specific growing conditions. In many other cases I see a lot of virtuosism but no real "mini ecosystems" - just plain vertical planting...
Besides that I suspect that the real and true maintenance costs are in both cases quite high...

But recently I came across a different kind of green wall project which I found extremely interesting.
The project dates from 2011 and is the work of Barcelona based studio Capella Garcia Arquitectura S.L.P.

More than a green wall of tiny little plants stuck in a supporting felt structure, this is a real construction that consists of a self-supporting galvanised steel structure, fixed parallel to the existing blind wall of an urban building. The structure is a nine stories construction, accessible via a staircase which enables the maintenance of the plants.

 More than a green wall, we are talking about a sort of green vertical garden. An example of "vegitecture" a hybrid between architecture and employment of living and diversified plant material.
The project has been promoted by the Barcelona City Council, in order to offer an aesthetic solution to an area affected by demolition of a building at the confluence of two trafficked streets.

From the first to the eighth level,  flower-trough modules are arranged perimetrally, on two distinct levels on metal platforms. These can be reached, with restricted access, from the ground floor by way of interior steps. This convenience of access is precisely what differentiates this structure from other vertical greenery, maintenance and replanting of which always has to be done from the exterior using elevating platforms, making the process a difficult and expensive one requiring specialised labour.

Besides the aesthetic results, which I find to be very urban and pleasant, this type of green wall treatment, offers an effective environmental benefit.
It works as a noise and dust particle absorber, it contributes to micro climate regulation and offers a valid shelter to a diversified choice of insects (good bugs) and birds, contributing though to promoting biodiversity inside the urban areas. As a matter of fact, nesting boxes are also integrated.

Water consumption is minimised by means of an automatic programmed drop-by-drop irrigation system with controlled drainage and automatic dosing of fertiliser.

The project still being relatively recent, I am very curious to see how it will develop in time and if the plants will succeed in colonising successfully the whole structure. On the whole I think that it is a very smart way of dealing with urban green spaces and I would love to see it applied and declined in many other versions.



  1. A great post about vertical planting. It should be done much more but is very expensive and as you already said not always done in the right way there are lots of bad clone projects.

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