Why modern day living needs more biophilic designs

As leaders in urban landscape solutions, the concept of biophilic design has been pioneered by Citygreen for almost two decades. Our mantra of transforming grey spaces into green, by incorporating nature into cityscapes, goes to the heart of what biophilic design is all about.

The term biophilia was first used by the pioneering naturalist and biologist Edward Wilson in 1984 when he hypothesised that humans have an “innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes.”

This tendency that Wilson speaks to, refers to the bond and deep sense of familiarity that humans and nature share. As a biologist, Wilson viewed life through an ecological lens, comparing lifelike processes to “organisms in an ecosystem.”

He believed that for societies to be functional, their surroundings must be akin to the natural environment that we were evolved in. In the man-made built environments, where most of the world’s population lives today, this sense of connection between nature and everyday human experiences has been slowly eroding.

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, lockdowns forced many of us to live in our neighbourhoods and home on a more permanent basis, which for a lot of people highlighted the lack of, and thus need for more innovative greenspaces.

Generally, the term greenspace invokes images of outdoor parks benches and beautifully manicured gardens, which is too simplistic in terms of 21st-century living. The standard approach in the past for town planners was to allocate a certain amount of open outdoor public space for conventional use, such as walking the dog or picnicking.

Yet today, with modern living requirements and conditions, the inter-relationship between greenspaces and greenspaces users has changed. As individuals, we are now spending more time inside buildings of all kinds, than we ever have before. Therefore, when we think of green spaces we should be contemplating indoor communal spaces like foyers in apartment buildings, food courts, and large shopping centres.

An example of a biophilic design that meets the needs of modern-day greenspace users is green walls, also termed living walls or vertical gardens. Such walls are becoming more popular, as they are able to convert underutilised areas into aesthetically appealing green spaces, by merging the natural and the built environments together.

Using straight walls and rights angles to recreate the scenic irregularities of the natural environment, has been a design goal for many sustainable companies including Citygreen. Green walls that incorporate a wide range of diverse plant species are able to artificially reinvent ecosystems, and can then bring the natural world closer to individuals, whether that be in a bustling inner-city workplace or residential apartment block.

Citygreen’s™ Living Wall system

Citygreen’s™ Living Wall system is a leading example of a modern biophilic design. Manufactured by the pioneering brand in advanced living wall products, Terapia Urbana in Spain, the Living Wall embodies nearly 15 years of research, development and product testing.

The system can be used outdoors, but indoor walls are by far the easiest, as the microclimate is more predictable, with the installation of artificial lighting, and automatic watering and fertilisation systems. Compared to other green spaces, the water usage for living walls like Citygreen’s™ Living Wall system is low, as it typically requires two litres per square metre per day to irrigate the wall.

The three features that make the system unique, and why it is able to stand out amongst other living wall designs, is firstly the fact that the wall, where the system will be mounted, will need no additional waterproofing. Secondly, the system is the lightest system on the market, weighing only 35kg per square meter fully planted and saturated.

Thirdly, the design is made up of a three-layer panel system that all links together, allowing the roots of the plants to be both protected, and have the ability to migrate freely, enabling almost unlimited root volume for the plants to grow in.

The design is available in nine standard panel sizes; however, it can also be engineered to fit bespoke sizes for unique projects. The system is also designed for quick and efficient installation for large scale commercial projects or smaller residential projects, with minimum disruption.

With urbanisation and residential density increasing in our modern-day societies, it is imperative that more cities and buildings be designed and planned in a sustainable way that allows individuals and communities to have equitable exposure to the natural environment.

Citygreen’s™ Living Wall system showcases a leading example of a creative and flexible design that can be used within challenging and ever-evolving modern-day greenspaces.

Learn more – Book Your Free Online Workshop

References: Edward O. Wilson. Biophilia. Harvard University Press. Cambridge, MA, and London, 1984.

What are the Benefits of Green Walls?

Green walls are one of the latest trends in interior design and with good reason. They are beautiful, healthy, and the benefits far outweigh the costs and maintenance.

If you’ve been following some of the recent building trends, you may realise that outdoor and indoor green walls are now popular. There’s more to the popularity of the walls than just a great aesthetic look. In fact, there are several benefits of having living walls on the inside or outside of your building. Learn more about those benefits and how having a green wall can help you.

1. Purify the Air

You’ve probably heard the Amazon jungle referred to as the “lungs of the earth.” That’s because the immense, dense foliage of the Amazon jungle converts carbon dioxide into oxygen. And while we all benefit from the chemical process that plants use to create oxygen, there is more that we can do to ensure that our household air is clean and oxygen-rich. Enter green walls.

One of the most significant benefits of a green wall is to improve the quality of your indoor air. Approximately 25% of carbon emissions made by human activity are absorbed by plants, and living walls contribute to that absorption. Plants on the wall filter toxins in the air and convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. In doing so, they create a healthier environment for you, your family, and your guests.

Have you ever noticed how an enclosed room or home can become stuffy? The more people and animals that you add, the less breathable the air is. During milder days, you can open a window, but that means shutting off your HVAC or running higher electric bills. An interior green wall can help offset the oxygen use of humans and pets in your home. And as an added benefit, your improved air quality means less eye irritation, fewer headaches, and reduced incidents of illness. If the wall is located inside a workplace, the employees are more productive and will take fewer sick days.

2. Decrease the Ambient Temperature

Heating and cooling a workspace can be expensive, and during severe winters and hot can take a significant chunk out of your profit. There are many things you can do to reduce these bills, from adding insulation to sealing doors and windows to replacing your HVAC system with a high-efficiency unit. But there’s another simple way to lower your energy bill: living walls. The plants absorb and reflect some sunlight, which cools down the air. As a result, you spend less money on your cooling bill.

Even an outdoor wall decreases the ambient temperature. Many cities have the heat-island effect. This is where the heat given off by machinery, vehicles, and buildings get trapped in a certain area and drive up the overall temperature. Outdoor plant walls decrease the outdoor temperature, which makes visitors more comfortable.

3. Decrease Noise

Have you ever noticed how a carpeted room tends to be quieter than one with a tile or wood floor? That’s because sound reflects off of flat, non-porous surfaces. Things like curtains and rugs can make a noisy room quieter. Plant walls have much the same effect. Sound vibrations are absorbed by the plant leaves, rather than being reflected back into the room.

A plant wall absorbs approximately 41% more noise than a traditional wall. Outdoor walls reduce noise from traffic, aircraft, and construction activities, and any other noise that you experience living in an urban centre. Indoor green walls can make rooms less echoey. Whether the wall is inside or outside, it works as an affordable and artistic sound barrier.

4. More Productivity

There are many tactics that employers can attempt to improve worker morale. One of those is changing or improving the decor of the workspace. Workers tend to appreciate significant improvements to the quality of their work environment. After all, they’re spending a significant portion of their days in the same location. If your goal is to improve worker productivity, a living wall is a rapid and affordable method of increasing productivity. Employees respond positively to more greenery in the workplace.

5. Make a Building More Fire-Resistant

As you might expect, plants contain a significant amount of moisture. That moisture makes them naturally resistant to fires. This might seem counterintuitive when you consider brush fires or forest fires, but those usually occur after long dry spells. Plant walls remain lush and green all of the time. By adding a living wall to your building, you make it more fire-resistant.

6. Extend the Life of Your Wall

Your walls are exposed to sunlight, wind, rain, and extreme temperature changes. Over time, the elements destroy your wall. But a living wall protects your structure from direct damage. The life of your wall could be extended by years.

7. Give your Building More Value

To make your building more valuable, you can make several changes. However, those changes often come at a high cost. You may need to spend thousands of dollars to get a small return.

When you install a living wall, you make your building more valuable. The natural look is coveted by many buyers. Furthermore, energy savings gives you even more value. A living wall is an investment that immediately starts paying for itself.

8. Create a Community Feel

A green wall attracts people and lightens the mood. It brings together neighbourhoods and communities while decreasing aggression and vandalism. To help your building bring together your community, you should consider a green wall.

Outdoor and indoor green walls come with multiple benefits. If you’re interested in getting started, you should start doing your research and planning for your wall.

Be Part of the Green Revolution

Indoor and outdoor plant walls protect our environment. While it might not seem like one or two walls can do much to fight climate change, it can help to offset your individual or your company’s carbon footprint. Plant walls may be one of the only truly guilt-free indulgences that are left. Add a little green to your life with a beautiful plant wall.

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