How London is embracing the vertical garden, or living wall

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Article written by Living Green City

You may have seen them dotted around your city. As a nation of gardeners and plant lovers we’re embracing the vertical garden, commonly known as the living wall.

A living wall uses technology which allows plants to grow vertically with an irrigation system.

The first walls in public settings were installed in 2008. Living walls are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in urban environments, due to their innovative use of previously unused spaces, design flexibility and environmental benefits - which include improved air quality and reduced pollution.

Major cities from Leeds to San Francisco and even as far as Muscat have iconic living walls which are deemed visual assets to their cities. Below we’ve examined the top five living walls which can be found in London.

Fenchurch Street

The largest living wall in London. At over 700m2 the 20 Fenchurch Street living wall contains around 52,000 plants. The wall was installed on an annex service building opposite the southern entrance.

Its aim was to create an environment surrounding the area that was both pleasant and impressive. It also contributes to their sustainability goals, helping the building to achieve a BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent’.

A mix of ferns, shrubs and grasses create a variety of colours and textures in this living wall. Flowering plants give fragrant bursts of violet, pink and white to the wall throughout the summer, after which berries ripen in the winter.

Developer: Biotecture

Installed in 2009, The Athenaeum’s living wall has quickly become a symbol of the hotel. Designed by the pioneer of vertical gardens, Patrick Blanc, The Athenaeum’s garden begins at street level and reaches all the way to the 10th floor Penthouse.

It provides a subtle nod to the verdant splendour of Green Park just across the road, as well as being an important haven of biodiversity for London.

More importantly, it was an idea that the hotel owners simply fell in love with and wanted to have.

Developer: Patrick Blanc

The UK’s first airport living wall was recently installed at Heathrow to form an eco-sanctuary designed to maximise the passenger experience.

Both architecturally and ecologically, the Garden Gate is cutting edge for cutting edge for its ease of installation, unique plant selection – largely based on early research conducted by Dr Bill Wolverton which cited the English Ivy and the Peace Lily as particularly beneficial – and LED lighting system.

7 panels, 1.8m high x 2.4m wide and 1,680 plants comprise the Garden Gate at Terminal 3. Advancements in LED technology enable indoor plant growth using less energy (i.e. more light and less heat).

A visually stunning site and the perfect send-off for travellers in transit.

Developer: Biotecture

The living wall at the Rubens Hotel is one of the largest and most awe-inspiring in London.

Standing at 350 square metres and with a total of 10,000 herbaceous plants, the striking living wall boasts a number of unique innovations.

Designed to provide waves of blossoming plants throughout the year, you will find the vertical garden a unique talking point as you stroll through the area.

It provides wildlife habitat, helps keep the hotel cooler in summer and warm in winter, so has clear environmental incentives.

Developer: TreeBox Ltd

This 305m2 living wall was installed as part of a redevelopment of MTV’s extensive suite of offices and studios on Hawley Crescent in Camden.

Visible from the street, a bold geometric planting design has helped to create new impact for this site of interest for tourists and local residents.

The living wall covers South, East and West facing elevations, requiring zoned irrigation to suit each of the different micro-climates.

Developer: Biotecture