Growing Green Gains Height

I did a material study for my last studio in architecture on green wall systems looking at how these systems can benefit individual’s health, lower energy use, help reduce carbon emissions, and making something look cool or being edible. I hope this isn’t going far off from the class, but this is something really interesting and has somewhat gained steam in the last couple of years.

Now for some history French Botanist, Patrick Blanc or Mr. Poison Ivy, I like to call him, sort of developed the idea of green wall systems around 1988 (really Stanley Hart White from University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign really kicked started this idea back in 1938). Blanc’s use for these green wall systems was an alternate use for a façade on a building or as an indoor art installation, however, with the development to house pretty much any type of plants(maybe another 50 years someone will create a system to house trees) are able to create unique patterns and serve as a teaching wall for what grows in a certain region.   As I mentioned earlier, these green wall systems have a double standard: good for the environment and good for art.

With the changing times, land has become more limited for farming, people like Dickson Despommier, Professor from Colombia University, started looking at making high-rise “vertical” farming. Below is a quick video of what Despommier is trying to do with these newish systems.  You might have also seen new skyscrapers covered in plants to help reduce energy costs or in some cases trying to earn those last few brownie points in the LEED Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-U.S. Green Building Council) which at times lead to landscaped mess.

Now going back full circle, there is many endless ways to handle these green wall systems and they in fact do have many positive benefits to them, especially for building design. When making green wall systems, it is like buying a shirt from a high-end designer or going with the less costly brand. Do you think this has its benefits to help reduce pollution or is it just a new “fashion statement”? Instead of putting resources into making a new high-rise just for farming, couldn’t we just use vacant lots like many U.S. cities for urban gardens?  Right next door to IIT and served as an IPRO project last semester is a place called The Plant where they used an old meat packaging facility and use similar concepts as Blanc and Despommier, but do way more for the type of business they want to carry out and serve the community.

Go here for the video on Dickson Despommier:

Additional info on Patrick Blanc:

The Plant Website: and the video to explain how their system works and trying to go off the grid:

Hope you all enjoy!



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