Rumble Pie | Deep Ecology Blog

Rumble Pie #21
Another Twig in the Wall

ON SOME LEVEL, THERE'S nothing really revolutionary about green walls. Any city worth its salt has a smattering of old architecture in its downtown core with leafy green vines climbing up its Corinthian facade. We call these buildings part of our collective heritage, and we protect them from market forces, making sure they stay where they are, despite the real estate race going on around them. And the older the better! In the most exaggerated examples, we call them wonders of the world and make pilgrimages to these places of beauty, as in the Angkor Temples of Cambodia, pictured below. There's something primal about vines intertwining that touches an emotional chord for most humans -- probably something to do with our simian ancestry. But climbing vines are just one vertical possiiblity -- there's no reason to stop there, at the monocultural option.

OF COURSE, NOT EVERY single species of plant matter is appropriate for inclusion in a green wall. Since there is little or no soil, only perennial plants that have a shallow root base should be installed in a wall. For outdoor green walls, drought-resistant plants should be used, since they can weather climactic extremes. For indoor green walls, tropical plants should be used, since they are accustomed to balmy twenty-plus Celsius degree temperatures all day long. But that still leaves us with a wide variety of plant families to choose from. The main factors that affect which will be included are budget and exposure to natural and artificial sources of light; for outdoor walls, micro-climactic factors are obviously important considerations, as well. Here below are photos of a few of the multitude of species that can be utilized in a green wall:

WELL, AT GREEN APPLE, we mean to practice what we preach. So we are officially declaring our intentions to launch this new venture, offering green wall design and build services for our clients. And to put our money where our mouths are, starting today we are constructing a green wall in our new offices here in North York! On a personal level, I'll be very happy to have some natural plants to look at, especially as fall sets in and it starts to get colder outside. With something lovely to look at, it may help me get my butt out of bed and out to work earlier than otherwise. And least that's what all the stats say, that green walls decrease employee absenteeism and increase worker productivity! And I have a hunch that in the wake of this decision, more meetings are going to take place here, since clients and suppliers are going to want to come see the green wall for themselves!

WE MAY BE THE LATEST, but we certainly aren't the first in the GTA to erect a green wall. In the meantime, you might want to check out two Toronto locations with vertical gardens, both built back in 2004: the Guelph Humber Building and the Robertson Building. The Guelph Humber Building is part of the Humber College North Campus in the west end at Finch and Highway 27, and can be reached by TTC from Finch Station with a 36B bus, or from Wilson Station on either 96A, 96B, or 96D. And the Robertson Building is located in downtown Toronto at 215 Spadina Avenue, between Dundas and Queen Streets; just take a 510 Spadina streetcar southbound from Spadina Station. We applaud these pioneers, soon to be peers, and look forward to the day when green walls will be so commonplace that they will barely require mentioning!

I'LL END THIS MISSIVE about green walls with some thoughts for the future. It seems almost silly to discuss extreme possibilities when we're just getting started with walls. But it's also inspiring to contemplate where the leaders in the field are taking this technology. Patrick Blanc has pointed out that there are many examples in nature of plants actually growing downward from on high, and so he designed a human-made green ceiling! Check it out below. And outside the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, artist Jeff Koons installed a huge puppy dog that is covered in every crevice with vegetation, a real 3-D green experience. I think we'll stick to the Y-axis for the time being, but continue to be invigorated by the prospects of putting the jungle back into concrete jungle!