The state of the art of living walls: Lessons learned
Abstract Marching toward legitimacy, living walls are slowly being vetted. Establishing living walls as a viable constructive system will require filling gaps in our knowledge by taking advantage of the lessons learned from recently built projects. Growing plants on a vertical surface gives the appearance of natural simplicity. However, achieving a successful living wall is a complex problem with many factors. These include: ensuring an appropriate support structure, maintaining the proper amount of water, oxygen, nutrients and pH levels, choosing plants which can survive seasonal climatic changes, and establishing the appropriate lighting conditions; not to mention affordability, sustainability and longevity. Satisfying these complex needs - mastering all of these factors - will be essential for living wall systems to mature beyond their use as vanity projects and gain acceptance by the construction industry. This article aims to aid those considering living walls and dispel some of the mystery surrounding them by studying precedents and addressing their commonly cited criticisms: living walls are too expensive and unsustainable, too complicated and prone to failure, and too decorative and superficial to the buildings they serve. Highlights Recent research and case studies could make living walls reliable and economical. Accepting the disadvantages of living walls can lead to optimized systems. Living walls can be sustainable if conceived as an entire system. The living wall industry must tether installation to maintenance. Beyond faCades: examples of architects using living walls to define building form. Graphical abstract [DISPLAY OMISSION]
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