Bromiliads, spider plants, ferns, geraniums & other plants in a simple, but very effective green wall.

Bromiliads, spider plants, ferns, geraniums & other plants in a simple, but very effective green wall.

“Green, but not square.  Only for the Adventurous,” reads the advertising sign.  What I saw was enough for me to park the car & go for a closer look.  Why?  Because the 3-storey sign was surrounded by a green wall.

This was the first time I have seen a green wall used to highlight advertising & it looked good.  I know I am not the only one who dislikes billboards & advertising on buildings. Many people consider this kind of advertising a blight on the landscape.  However, it is a reality of modern day life & because it brings in lucrative returns for the land or building owners, is here to stay.

So if we have to have advertising on the side of buildings, let them all be surrounded by plants.  It is very striking & a much better way to draw attention without a chunk of negative thoughts associated with it.  The plants also work for free adding oxygen & purifying the air, as well as adding beauty.

The sign I am writing about was on the side of the street-side building of Sydney Corporate Park, a 20-hectare commercial & industrial estate at 180 Burke Road Alexandria.   Another point of interest was the vast number of solar panels covering one very large roof that is visible from the road.

The sign itself advertises Sydney Corporate Park (SCP).  Around it are thousands of plants held in a geo-textile matrix.  Only a small section has not flourished & eventually, it will probably reseed itself.  The rest is like a jungle.  Standing there I noticed that the air was much cooler & even smelt nice.

I was interested to learn more about why an industrial estate would pay for a green wall installation, so I did an internet search.  I found that 6,000 people work here with 4,000 visiting the shops, gym, function rooms, GPs & cafes daily.

The complex prides itself on being green & sustainable.  There are a number of initiatives that make sure that it can make this claim with pride –

  • Rainwater collection from the roofs.  SCP harvests around one million litres of rain each month. This water is used for cleaning, flushing toilets & watering garden beds, of which there are many.
  • A wind turbine produces 4 kwh of energy.
  • ‘Intelligent lighting’ provides the right amount of light where & when it is needed.  They do not turn on exterior lights when there is enough natural light & lights are timed to minimize energy consumption.
  • 600 panels provide solar hot water to the site generating around 450kWh per day.
  • There are double glazed windows & louvers.
  • There is also natural ventilation, sunshades & lower air-conditioning use.
  • Urinals are waterless.
  • Construction used recycled steel & bricks.
  • A $600,000 rooftop solar farm produces 600 kWh per day.
  • By today, 15th January 2014, SCP has avoided adding 130,648.23 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere.  Very commendable.
  • A massive tower holds an organic compost system that takes food waste from onsite cafes & material from the gardens.  The resulting compost is used on the many garden beds around the complex.
  • By December 2013, SCP recycled 19.22 tonnes of waste with 80% of waste generated not going to landfill.
  • SCP has a shared passenger transfer service across the complex, so single passenger cars do not need to be used.
  • Bicycle use is encouraged & racks provided.
  • Segway people movers are also used in the complex.  What fun that would be.

No wonder Sydney Corporate Park won Australia’s Best Business Park award in 2012.

Marrickville municipality is already undergoing development & is set to undertake a great deal more in the near future.  Developments like Sydney Corporate Park show us what we can expect our Council, Councillors & the new Architectural Excellence Panel to push for both in housing & mixed-use estates.

The Victoria Road Precinct proposal for a mixed-use estate (see – should also be aiming to do as much as SCP as they said it is to be a 6-star energy-rating precinct.

Businesses will move into complexes like the SCP because in the long run sustainability saves money.  It also brings patronage from a savvy & aware community, which also means money & making money is what business is all about.

If a leafy outlook in a shopping strip brings 11% more spending, imagine the increase when the whole complex is about being responsible to the environment & ultimately your children’s & your grandchildren’s future.

With climate change already obvious, we as a community will have to change & considerably improve the way we do things & this includes buildings. 

Architects have a first line responsibility to encourage & include as many sustainable features in their designs as possible.  Development cannot & should not continue to be as basic as it can. 

Whacking in a few hundred air-conditioning units & failing to provide trees, green space, rooftop water collection, communal composting & solar hot water/electricity is failing the residents & ultimately the whole community.  These changes are achievable & they do make a significant & positive environmental impact, as well as improve livability.

I hope the initiatives of Sydney Corporate Park become the norm across industrial, mixed-use & residential high-rise in the near future.  Plus a green wall around advertising signs is a very smart move.  I would not have looked twice nor researched this complex if that green wall had not been there.

Screenshot of Google map of Sydney Corporate Park.  Notice the many trees on the property.

Screenshot of Google map of Sydney Corporate Park. Notice the many trees on the property.

The green sign front on

The green sign front on

Close-up of the plants.  It was cool to stand here.

Close-up of the plants. It was cool to stand here.