Vertical MeadowTM is an innovative and cost-effective living wall system for building façades and temporary applications such as construction site scaffolding and hoardings. It enables biodiversity to be brought into building and infrastructure projects, both in the construction and operational phases, in a way that is cheaper and simpler to install and maintain than alternatives. The concept was first developed through Arup Ventures, and has now been spun-out into a standalone company.
Local willdflowers are grown from seed in-situ, meaning no energy and carbon associated with growing plants in greenhouses off-site, and no messy logistics in transporting them and installing them in place. Within two to three weeks the first shoots start to appear, before growing into verdant wildflower meadows - turning buildings facades and unsightly hoardings and scaffoldings into something remarkable.
A root mat and seed paper layer is sandwiched in a system that can be affixed to a façade subframe, hoarding or scaffold. Water and nutrients are delivered to the wall by a robust irrigation system that can be remotely monitored and adjusted, and collected in a discreet gutter at the bottom of the wall ready for recirculation. In time the plants germinate and begin to grow, flowering and changing with the seasons just like our parklands and meadows do.
Meadows and species-rich grasslands now cover less than 1% of the UK, with 97% lost in less than a century. Nature is disappearing at an alarming rate. In May 2019 the UK Government declared an Environment and Climate Change emergency, with the Construction Industry Council recognising the built environment as a major contributor to the breakdown of biodiversity. Two years on, UK Government has announced that binding targets for species abundance will be necessary to stem the tide of loss.
Working with London Wildlife Trust, Buglife and the country’s leading ecologists, Vertical MeadowTM has been designed to use customisable, species-rich native wild grass and wildflower seed mixes that provide a haven for pollinators, insects, birds and butterflies. Grown from seed in-situ, the resulting plants are hardy and long-lasting, and need limited maintenance.
Permanent installations bring nature into cities alongside parks, parklets and green roofs, and temporary installations provide a continuum between the nature removed by construction and the new natural habitats increasingly included in built environment developments.
The benefits of Vertical Meadow
Economical: No plants grown in greenhouses makes for a system that has lower capital cost than alternatives and is cheap to run and maintain, enabling greenery at a larger scale.
Simple dry installation: Designed with standard construction principles in mind, it can be easily installed by the existing site team. The living wall system can be turned on whenever the site is ready, with no complex logistics necessary in bringing fragile plants to site.
Safe: The system has been designed with fire safety in mind and minimal combustible materials – just the irrigation pipework and plants themselves, compared to most other systems that are built from plastic.
Biodiverse: A standard seed mix can be used, or a bespoke one tailored to the specific site context. Once grown the plants provide a haven for pollinators, insects, birds and butterflies.
Visual screening: Whether a construction site, a plant room, a large façade or a car park – the built environment is not always beautiful. A living wall provides beauty and interest as it grows and changes with the seasons.
Noise reducing: The layers of plants and root mat have natural sound-absorbing properties. Indicative tests have shown a through thickness sound reduction of 15dB for low frequency noise.
Low maintenance: The irrigation system provides automatic watering and dosing of nutrients, with a regime that adjusts to the seasons. It can be monitored and modified remotely, and a series of built-in alerts ensure it runs reliably. An annual trim of the plants is all that’s required to maintain them.
As the estate continues to adapt and evolve we want to ensure that the impact on the community is positive. [Vertical Meadow] will introduce a rich biodiversity to Mayfair and encourage people to linger in the area. ” Mark Tredwell Development Director, Grosvenor