ADVANCED CLASSIFICATION OF FACADE GREENING - Characteristics and differences of soil-bound and facade greening systems

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Fundamentals and the state of development

As an alternative to traditional ground-based facade greening, whose main dissemination area is mostly in private housing, for approximately the last fifteen years, the new technique of facade-bound greening is experiencing increasing attention in the public eye and among experts. The complex prototypes in busy urban centers, such as Paris, the facade area of the department store BHV (Fig. 1), the Seine facing façade of the Musée du Quai Branly (Fig. 2) or the front wall of the glass-roofed lobby of the Hotel Pershing Hall (Fig. 3) are primarily dedicated to attract visitors and guests, they are nevertheless important pioneers in trailblazing methods of greening buildings. The building facade-bound greening has enormous potential because of climatic and visual deficits in our densely urban centres affording a great improvement, in the long term, to the accommodations and quality of life in our inner cities.

Magasin BHV Homme, ParisMusée du Quai Branly, ParisHotel Pershing Hall, Paris
 Figl. 1 - Magasin BHV Homme, Paris       Figl. 2 - Musée du Quai Branly, Paris      Figl. 3 - Hotel Pershing Hall, Paris

 

Qualified soil and soil/water connections are lacking because of sealing and mechanical and chemical loading. Since facade greening is not dependent upon soil it’s key function, from the building design aspect, is in enabling important  climatic, , ecological, medicinal and visual qualities.

-Retention of rain water
-Improvement of the micro and macro-climate (reduction of reflective intensity, compensating for temperature and air movement, ventilation)
-Conservation of cooling energy (shading and evaporation)
-Contribution to the Building (∆T, UV, humidity)
-Conservation of heating energy (wind protection and possibly multi-sonic structure of the greened wall)
-Sonic-absorption or reducing the sonic reflection (surface enlargement)
-CO2 bonding and oxygen production
-Improvement of air quality (binds fine particulate matter)
-Visual enhancement due to greening and design quality (stress reduction)
-Extended range of flora and fauna (among climbers and perennials, small shrubs and moss / habitat for birds and insects) 1)

The available inner-city surface potential for vertical greening with or without ground connection exceeds many times  the floor/ground space available in the inner-city, which could still be greened. Static walls, fire walls, border walls, and countless other walls serve as possible façade surfaces move into the realm of the redevelopment of vertical surface area greening. Therefore a number of important questions are open for planners and decision makers:

How can we succeed in creating a fundamentally improved inner-city living environment? Will greening components gain wide acceptance and achieve longevity as well as durability? Is investment and maintenance financially presentable and will it also bring climatic urban design advantages for residents and visitors of the city centres? What are the realized examples with reliable data to monitor success? What performance levels are achieved? Will a stable plant community adapt to the formed living conditions? What will it cost? Can we derive design principles for a broad application out of exciting models? Can we create typical classifications for different ways of dealing with the complexities of urban building greening? On the other hand, can one determine, for such classifications, the inclusion of the acceptance behaviour of residents in relation to dealing with these different ways? Can significant cross-references between the acceptance behaviour and the related communication policy of the cities and/or regional and other media be determined? 2)

 

Chart: Constructive and vegetation technical decision parameters for facade greening

The foreseeable future coexistence of the two techniques of vertical (building) greening suggests a planning tool to establish the constructive and vegetation technical decision parameters providing an overview of the current application systems. The chart (Fig. 9) shows, therefore, design and application conditions, economic and ecological criteria for different types of ground-bound and facade-bound building greening and their mixed form.

Differences in ground-based systems are for climbing plants and scaffolding twiners, facade-bound shelf systems (as formative modern descendants of the old flowerpot in post-war housing) as well as modular and complete façade-bound systems as formally free custom built planted vertical surface greening. Additionally to this a mixed form of soil-bound and facade bound greening creates a variety of possible combinations.

The possible uses of plants with these distinctions of systems and significantly different creative leeway will be demonstrated by the simple ground-bound climbing plant greening up to a technically perfected facade-bound vertical garden.
Each of the required secondary building constructions for the inclusion of static load and wind loads at the modular and overall systems is relevant to building regulations and demands for a durable corrosion-free performance of all components.

21.08.2011, Filmausschnitt Passantenverhalten am Museé du Quai Branly, Paris, Minute 10:5421.08.2011, Filmausschnitt Passantenverhalten am Museé du Quai Branly, Paris, Minute 70:01
  Fig. 4 and 5 - 21.08.2011, Film clip Passangers attitude at Museé du Quai Branly, Paris, minute 10:54 and minute 70:01
 

Abb. 6
  Fig. 6 [click to see full size grafic]

The mentioned variation of „textile systems“ (surface construction) has been for many years, the advanced patented standard solution of the Parisian artist and landscape architect Patrick Blanc. There is wide acceptance of its surface, down to the sidewalk reaching building greening at the Musée du Quai Branly. As seen in daytime, passers-by exhibit a fascination and joy at seeing the living green wall. Please look up the behaviour graphics (evaluation of a ninety-minute film clip, Fig. 4, 5, 6).

Substantial criteria for the freedom in the organization of the systems follow: in scaffold twiners, at least, the major form is more controllable then the modular surface systems honour a largely creatively predictable shape, which may in the course of maintenance are stablized within the integration of the plant in the creative drive of the building architecture. Suitable is the classification of an immediate, final availability of the proposed creative surface effect, since the substrate-containing vessels with the young plants is preferred during the construction period up to their installation.

As a special case, not yet mentioned but in the metropolitan routine a significant, is the possibility to conceal the cityscape interfering conditions such as boarding´s or fire walls or after demolition of the adjacent building or unsightly, for subsequent redevelopment expectant buildings surfaces, with rentable modular interim greening. Especially for the temporary appreciation of unsightly areas, backs of buildings not renovated yet, system-greening at significant individual surfaces is a very suitable solution (Fig. 7).

Exemplary individual projects can trigger amazing imitation effects: the significantly higher quality of living with a technically and artistically successful integration of greening and architecture can cause an individual greening of the entire neighbourhood (Fig. 8).

Mur Végétal de la Gare du Nord, Paris Flower Tower, Paris
  Fig. 7 - Mur Végétal de la Gare du Nord, Paris                                                Fig. 8 - Flower Tower, Paris

Due to the now growing demand, many manufacturers share the market of facade-bound greening systems with different designs and economical solutions. With respect to the greening systems the primary wall In the subsequent consideration of the relevant economic aspects (investment and maintenance) the high cost of building the facade bound systems was mentioned quite rightly, there is no expense for the design of the (invisible) building façade, which may even mean a full compensation of the greening costs, if one considers the saving of high quality natural stone /glass facades. With the increased cost of maintenance of high at the building mounted facade-bound greening modules, achievable synergies can be assumed in a merger of the semi-annual greening maintenance, the facade maintenance and the cleaning of the glass. 4) The same applies for the accessability by conductor or mechanical driven systems, which cannot be waived.

The view of ecological potential is promoting, first of all, the natural summer / winter cycle of nature, which for example provides summer shading advantages with winter heat supply, whereby, among other things, the use of a facade with translucent insulation or an air collector facade can be optimized for low costs (scaffold twiners / shelving systems / mixed forms). Another aspect of these greening forms is the possible substitution of external solar shading devices and their maintenance.

In conclusion, mentioned above already, the concurrent completion possibility in some systems of façade greening, the building handover or the start of use is not only equal to our zeitgeist (no patience for natural growth – here the big tree-planting, there the facade greening “just over night”), it rather has – especially in the expensive urban locations – business benefits. For example when construction zones can be completed expeditiously, scaffolding finally disappears and traffic obstructions in building areas no longer must be kept or even set up later again. The presentation of the finished architectural image at the onset of use, the conjured vertical garden, the revelation of the unexpected… you might consider it doubtful but if it serves to increase  acceptance, triggering a competition together with the greening of the building energy and the performance of buildings and helps in this way to distribute the facade greening, one can only congratulate the actors in a sense of a more liveable city of the future.constructions of the exterior facades need to be examined with regard to their suitability for the greening systems and their secondary constructions and the proposed examples. 3)

Fig. 9 – Grundlage: Diagramme und Inhalte 5),Essentials: diagrams and content 5) Additions by author, © Nicole Pfoser, 07/2011
[click to see full size grafic]

 

References

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2)
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3)
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4)
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5)
- FLL (Forschungsgesellschaft Landschaftsentwicklung Landschaftsbau e.V.): Richtlinie für die
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* Angabe der Werte FBB-Projektgruppe Fassadenbegrünung

 

Register of illustrations

fig. 1 - Magasin BVH, Paris (Patrick Blanc)
             Beispiel für eine fassadengebundene Begrünung ohne Oberboden- und Bodenwasser-
             anschluss, Foto: © Nicole Pfoser, 08/2011
Fig. 2 - Musée du Quai Branly, Paris (Architektur Jean Nouvel, Mur Végétal Patrick Blanc),
             Foto: © Nicole Pfoser, 08/2011
Fig. 3 - Hotel Pershing Hall, Paris (Innenarchitektur Andrée Putman, Mur Végétal Patrick Blanc),
             Foto: © Nicole Pfoser, 08/2011
Fig. 4 - 21.08.2011, Filmausschnitt Passantenverhalten am Musée du Quai Branly, Paris,
             Minute 10:54 © Nicole Pfoser, 08/2011
Fig. 5 - 21.08.2011, Filmausschnitt Passantenverhalten am Musée du Quai Branly, Paris,
             Minute 70:01, © Nicole Pfoser, 08/2011
Fig. 6 - Fassadengebundene begrünte Nordfassade des Musée Quai Branly, Paris
             Auswertung: 90 Minuten Analyse des Passantenverhaltens,
             Abb. © Nicole Pfoser, 09/2011
Fig. 7 - Mur Végétal de la Gare du Nord, Paris (Mur Végétal Fa. Greenwall)
             Foto: © Nicole Pfoser, 08/2011
Fig. 8 - Flower Tower, Paris (Architektur Eduard Francois)
             Sozialer Wohnungsbau, Foto: © Nicole Pfoser, 08/2011
Fig. 9 - Konstruktive und vegetationstechnische Entscheidungsparameter Fassadenbegrünung
             Grundlage: Diagramme und Inhalte 5), Ergänzungen durch Verfasserin,
             Systematik: © Nicole Pfoser, 07/2011