Green wall eco flop

Paradise Park
Paradise Park

This looks like a serious case of a client and architect hopping on to the green bandwagon and then falling off with a crash… my last post was on Patrick Blanc, a scientist who has for years studied what attributes are required for a successful ‘vertical garden’ and has a track record of many installations around the world.

Enter a local council and an architectural practice looking for a green icon in the borough. It was decided a ‘living wall’ was the statement they needed and went ahead, notably without any input from Patrick Blanc. Well, they got what they wanted, according to the Architect’s Journal, it was high profile and was shortlisted for and apparently won some awards. But two years later – well look at the photo. The Architects Journal has an article with some scathing quotes from other practitioners and other architects commenting on the article don’t hold back.
My take-home thougths on this:
  1. Greenwashing anyone? There is a lot of infrastructure, materials, pumps and maintenence required to make it work. Ostensibly a green wall should contribute to insualtion, cooling and so on but whether it outweighs the embodied input is questionable.
  2. Beware of fads in architecture. Unlike clothing fashion its not easy to change a style after two years and it will remain, mocking…
  3. Architecture awards are not a good indicator of good architecture.
  4. What is it about local government and maintenence? It seems like it was a lack of maintenence of the irrigation pump system. (They are not admitting it of course).
  5. What is wrong with just using a creeper? Grows in the ground, naturally clings to the wall, needs same amount of maintenence, looks pretty much the same…

A good looking book by Howard Liddell that takes aim at the green hubris is Ecominimalism: the antidote to eco-bling.

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