Our Cities will Quite Literally Become Urban Jungles…

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The future looks green, as Arup’s new study calls for rooftop gardens and walls of living plants to be installed on the outside of buildings, for the good of our health.
Cities aren’t particularly green spaces, but you could slowly see that change, as ‘green envelopes’ and ‘living walls’ are springing up on buildings across the globe. Everything from modular plant walls (grown on site from seeds or installed fully-grown), sky allotments for local communities and vertical farms to wildlife corridors among the rooftops could come to a city near you – should we act on Arup’s new study.

“Our buildings provide enormous untapped potential in making our cities not only more attractive to live in but also more resilient,” Arup’s Alistair Law explained.

“Our buildings provide enormous untapped potential in making our cities not only more attractive to live in but also more resilient,” Arup’s Alistair Law explained.

Law was one of the experts from 8 skilled networks around the world who met in Berlin last year to study how green facades can improve cities for the people that live in them. Their ‘Cities Alive: Green Building Envelope’ paper hones in on five global cities (Berlin, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles and Melbourne).

He continued, “There is significant scientific evidence to show that this also brings improvements in air quality, Urban Heat Island reduction, noise reduction, storm water attenuation and urban biodiversity. There is also the potential for energy production and urban agriculture helping to reduce transport waste.”

You see, aside from giving wildlife a habitat to thrive in and brightening up soulless concrete structures, these green envelopes can reduce local CO2 levels by as much as 20%, filter fine dust from the streets, decrease noise pollution by 10 decibels (by absorbing sound), cool buildings, prevent flooding and boost the morale of folk living and working in the city.

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Singapore is already leading the way, it committed to increasing urban green space by 50ha by 2030 in its Sustainable Growth Strategy. But the UK isn’t far behind, for example, there’s a 21-metre high living wall of 10,000 plants and 16 tons of soil covering an exterior wall of Rubens at the Palace Hotel in Victoria, London – both a flood reduction plan and the largest living wall in the capital.

Up here in our neck of the woods, Leeds Incinerator is also decked in living plants and wildflowers to absorb pollution and dust.

In fact, Arup are leading by example themselves, working as they are on Hines Italia’s Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) in Milan, Italy. These two residential towers, will host 480 large and medium trees, 300 small trees, 11,000 perennial and covering plants and 5,000 shrubs (the ultimate ‘green envelope’ to create an urban ecosystem for as many as 1,6000 birds and butterflies.

How fantastic would it be for more cities to follow suit? Any building can be clad in these green facades, not just the new builds.

We’re currently undertaking a turnkey fit-out scheme to the whole of Arup’s Leeds office, which comprises of four floors. For an in depth look at their findings, read their intriguing ‘Cities Alive: Green Building Envelope’ study for free.

Posted September 20, 2016

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