As we learn more about the effects of biophilia; improved mood, reduced stress, and enhanced productivity, more and more businesses around the world are seeking both small and large ways to implement biophilia. If you’re looking to include an element that enhances the aesthetic of a space and turns heads, then you’ll want to take a look at these 12 living walls. Living walls are easily one of the most striking biophilic elements, and are a powerful method of improving quality in the built environment from hospitality to retail.
This living wall brings nature to an enclosed office space
While many offices boast panoramic views of nature and easy access to the outdoors, there are still many windowless workplaces that are completely enclosed. In many cases, installing a daylighting solution may be impractical. For employees who work in cubicles, warehouses, or other spaces with exposure only to artificial light, alternative methods of staying in touch with nature are required. Using a living wall is one of the best ways of enhancing occupant wellness in offices with few or no windows. An abundance of plant life will transform the space, complement any existing daylight, and provide a strong biophilic connection. The result is improved air quality and bolstered productivity.
Finland startup Naava brings artificial intelligence to living walls
The founders of Naava, a Finnish living wall company, set out to solve the problems of unclean, unhealthy air that many businesses face. To that effect, they’ve made some astounding innovations in living wall technology. Naava’s walls use artificial intelligence to monitor and react to various indoor elements. Impressively, the sensors inside the walls utilize a remote system to gather information from weather satellites. The walls also use fans to circulate purified air into the surrounding environment. In actual use, Naava walls reduce up to 57% of air pollutants after a single filtration and also help remove volatile organic compounds already present in a space.
What Naava has done excellently is to take the living wall concept and augment it with artificial intelligence. The amalgamation of biophilia and smart technology is one designers will be exploring in the near future to unlock the most powerful ways to make biophilic design the most effective it can be.
NYC’s Hotel Hugo uses a living wall to comfort and wow restaurant-goers
Many businesses use lighting as a way of emphasizing focal points, but Il Principe in NYC’s Hotel Hugo takes this one step further. The L-shaped restaurant uses wood and light to direct attention to the back, where an enclosed private dining area awaits. This private area is adorned with a living wall that covers the entire central wall of the room. In addition, the space receives ample amounts of natural light from the skylight. By making this biophilic section the center of attention, patrons will remember it as a highlight of the experience, even if they didn’t dine in that particular area. Il Principe’s use of biophilia is especially memorable because the restaurant is located in the heavily commercial Hudson Square area. This apt use of greenery and lighting transforms Il Principe from a restaurant into an oasis.
Henry Ford Hospital provides patients with beneficial biophilia
From Planterra: A living wall affords a point of respite within this hospital
Hospitals are decidedly suitable choices for biophilic design. The benefits of biophilia in hospitals are not only physical and physiological but also mental and emotional. That’s because biophilic design humanizes clinical spaces, creating a caring, welcoming atmosphere. Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan did just this by installing a living wall in the building’s atrium, which hosts private functions in addition to serving as a community meeting space. A nice touch is the inclusion of poinsettias to add a seasonal color that complements the lively green of the wall itself.
Modular design meets the living wall in this China office
Modular is one of the latest trends in office design, and it allows for unparalleled levels of flexibility so designers can use their imagination. One great example of modular creativity is the living wall in the TJY Office Building in Shenzhen, China. The wall uses a grid of piping that has a dual purpose. The piping sends water to the plants, and the grid itself has slots in which plants can be placed. The wall is able to be reconfigured, and workers can even “unplug” plants from the system to bring to their workstations. This living wall both implements current trends and biophilic design making it a great example to follow.
Under Armour’s branded living wall reimagines experiential design
From American Builders Quarterly: The logo embedded in the middle of this living wall makes an unforgettable brand statement
The corporate buildings that stand out the most are the ones that tell a story. Immersing employees and visitors in an experience is a surefire way of improving mood and morale. Under Armour creates this experience, thanks in part to a large living wall that boasts the company logo. The wall’s installation was the decision of Neil Jurgens, the vice president of global corporate real estate, after polling workers to figure out what they wanted in their workplace. Fittingly, the incorporation of the logo symbolically affirms that Under Armour is a company that cares about nature and the health of its workers.
Small living walls can make a big impact
From Good Earth Plants: A pair of small living walls complement the laid-back feel of this space perfectly
Living walls don’t have to fill up a room in order to make a space healthier and more beautiful. Smaller living walls are just as powerful and are able to suit a variety of spaces. In more petite spaces, a small living wall becomes the focal point, and in larger spaces, it elevates the existing design. Of course, you can use small living walls in conjunction with other biophilic design elements like reclaimed wood and water installations, resulting in a multisensorial, natural environment.
This living wall emphasizes the structure and unity of its building
There’s no doubt that living wall installations designed from scratch look great, but you can also implement a living wall anywhere in your building without completely overhauling the architecture. Existing walls can be adapted to host greenery using a hydroponics system. This approach has the advantage of highlighting the architecture of a space without having to spend lots of time and money remodeling it. If you’ve got a foyer, office, or dining area with an already eye-catching wall, you can make the most of it with a living wall.
This outdoor installation is a fresh take on the living wall
From the University of Texas at Austin: This outdoor living wall uses local plant life and a novel design
This living wall, installed along the façade of the University of Texas at Austin’s Goldsmith Hall, is unique in both its design and performance. The honeycomb design creates pockets in which a variety of plants, all native to the Austin area, sit, and like the modular living wall showcased above, it creates a robust impression upon students and visitors. The wall is equipped with noise, light, temperature, and moisture sensors as part of ongoing research to evaluate its other benefits of building cooling, city cooling, storm water mitigation, noise buffering, and serving as a natural air filter. (This local flora was specifically selected to attract nearby fauna.)
Diamond Schmitt Architects is designing breathtaking, monumental living walls
When Birgit Siber, Principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects, was serving as project architect for the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto, she approached the university’s research team to find a way to implement their work into the campus’s design. The team had recently completed a seven year project on biofiltration, so a living wall was an obvious choice to reflect their hard work. The resulting wall spans the height of the university’s central atrium, which is topped with a glass ceiling to illuminate both the wall and the atrium itself. In an interview, Siber reflected on the biophilic benefits the wall brings to the university: “I feel a light cool breeze coming off the living wall and the scent of plant life. It feels as though nature has been invited in on a grand scale…and I believe that affects us on many levels.”
A living wall adds an exotic flair to this airport
From Greenroofs.com: This airport bar and lounge uses a beautiful living wall and standing greenery
Ever wonder if an airport can successfully use biophilic design? The answer, of course, is yes, and this living wall from Auckland International Airport is proof of that. Located in the Square Restaurant & Bar inside of the airport’s Hotel Novotel, the wall features greenery found in New Zealand, such as pan-pacific creepers. The hotel even consulted the local Tainui people while developing the wall to ensure it accurately reflected New Zealand’s landscape.
This building wears a living wall on its second floor
From Fresh Montgomery: This store’s upper level is coated in an assortment of dense foliage
British retailer M&S Simply Food is an example of just how good biophilic design can look. Shoppers will find the exterior second story of one of the chain’s stores covered in a living wall. With pops of purple and tan, the wall is undeniably appealing and instantly memorable. The biophilic store was even shortlisted for the 2016 Surface Design Awards, proving that biophilic design looks every bit as good as it feels.
The living wall is a perfect biophilic design element, literally bringing life to a space while enhancing occupant well-being emotionally and physically with benefits like natural air filtration, reducing noise and helping to maintain humidity and temperature. These 12 examples show how striking living walls can be. Thanks to adaptable hydroponics, living walls are easier than ever to implement. When used alongside other biophilic elements like daylight, reclaimed wood, and water features, a living wall can drastically improve any building’s environment and health.