Integrating green into the city: after green roofs, now wall gardens
Especially in urban areas, where people are living ever more compactly and closer together, the integration of green space into the city is becoming increasingly important. In addition to the better known green roofs, green façades or wall gardens are also becoming increasingly popular. Wall gardens are by now known to every architect thanks to prestigious projects at home and abroad, but despite their many advantages they are still not applied in practice.
Through this project, Muurtuinen bvba wants to make the advantages of a vertical wall garden known to a broad public. We want to demonstrate our own developed wall garden, the Total Value Wall, on the basis of two example projects: at a school in Lier and at a town house in Ghent.
Our Total Value Wall is an innovative multidisciplinary wall garden that works as a fully-fledged building envelope with a lot of advantages: better thermal and sound insulation, a longer life for the wall, a lower fire risk, etc. The wall also absorbsfine dust and retains rainwater.
Through these sample projects, we would like to test an additional application of our wall garden, namely the possibility of using the vertical garden as a water purification system.
The example projects allowed us to expand our knowledge of the wall garden as a water purification technology, by using the garden as a system to purify grey water into water for low-value applications. This is how the Total Value Wall 2.0 was born.
Through close cooperation with Ghent University and Antwerp University, this project has led to new scientific knowledge and publications, including a scientific article in the Journal of Environmental Management.
We paid a lot of attention to dissemination and succeeded in making the advantages of the wall garden better known to a specialised and general target audience, e.g. through articles in professional journals, the newspaper, social media, a closing webinar, etc.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
The legislative framework complicates the implementation of innovations. Innovative technologies still have to be adjusted too often to fit into the regulatory framework. Zones without regulations would give innovations more opportunities to develop.
Good involvement of all parties in the chain and clear communication between them is very important. As far as the end-user is concerned, we must find a good balance between easy communication on the one hand and (more) worry-free operations on the other.
Despite the great ecological and social added value, the implementation mainly depends on the cost. The client often has to bear the costs alone, while the benefits for the entire environment and society are considerable. Some form of reward from the government would be welcome.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Based on the latest test results and end-user experiences, we will further evolve our Total Value Wall 2.0 into a Total Value Wall 3.0, where the focus is on taking more care of the end-user.
We already have a number of customers, both builders and private individuals, who have provided our system in their building project. We expect to install the new generation of wall gardens from the end of 2021. The added value of our project has already been proven and known, the demand is there, hopefully an appropriate legislative framework will follow ...