Barcelona in Spain has delivered an amazing 8-storey green wall outside an already standing building, proving that green walls do not need to be the domain of new developments.

As the world heats up, this kind of initiative will need to become more commonplace. We cannot continue to create urban environments that are essentially a mix of hard surfaces on different levels – from streets to walls & roofs on high-rise buildings.  We will bake unless we make changes to the way we build.

A green wall is not only a living entity; it is also a working entity cleaning up air pollution.  Green walls have many benefits.  They cool down the building & the local area. They add beauty to the streetscape & have a positive impact on the health & happiness of people who live or work in the building & also those who pass by.  They also add to biodiversity. Green walls make sense, especially as the population increases & land becomes scarcer.

What is terrific about this particular green wall in Barcelona is that what was once a large 8-storey blank wall has now been transformed into a living green wall.  A scaffold-like structure was built in the air space outside the building. Therefore the plants & the water that is used to keep the plants alive will not impact on the structure of the building, something that concerns many.  A staircase & floors have been created between the wall & the building to allow maintenance.  The planted boxes are modular & can be removed & replaced.  So can plants, making it easy to remove any that may have died.

The designing Architect Juli Capella says they have identified seven species of birds that use this particular green wall as well as flying foxes & geckos.  These are shown as an interpretive sign near the green wall to educate the public.  The green wall has turned into an attraction with a monocular installed so people can zoom in to have a close look at the plants.  Initially the locals were worried about the birds & insects & the ‘evils of nature,’ but now are happy with the wall.

This could be done here in Marrickville municipality if the owners of buildings were willing & if Marrickville Council encouraged it.  Green walls like this one would certainly significantly add to the value of their properties as well as provide the community major inspirational beauty to the streetscape & make it a healthier place to live.

If I had my way, all new developments would include green walls in some way because they are so beneficial.  In time it will happen, as I believe Architects will not want to be viewed as out of date & out of touch with the community’s desires when other Architects design more people & environmentally friendly office & residential buildings.  Until then we can look at what is happening overseas as well as in the City of Sydney Council area, as they are embracing green walls with a passion to make Sydney a very livable city.

You can watch a short video of the green wall in Barcelona here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oC_ghwmBV4

A small section of the glorious living green wall outside the new Cbus tower in Sydney CBD when it was very new. This green wall is a vastly different design & structure than the one in Barcelona.

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