The Biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans possess an intrinsic tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Bianca Bodley of Biophilia Collective affirms this in her TedX talk by stating that “we have an innate connection and love of nature and with more and more people living in urban centres we need nature in our lives now more than ever.” Environmental and psychological research has proven that even views of nature can have positive psychological effects on people and also, that indoor plant life can significantly lower workplace stress and enhance employee productivity.
The dismal statistic that we spend 90% of our day indoors makes a strong argument for bringing the outdoors in. When Shaw Communications wanted to create a design-conscious environment promoting good health they turned to living wall expert, Bianca Bodley to integrate a green wall into their new call centre.
Creating inviting environments that make a bold visual statement, green walls are as equally impressive in appearance as they are purveyors of good health. As natural air filters, living walls create a cleaner, more invigorating work environment that will lead to better overall employee health and production. Not only do plants improve your mental productivity, but they create a green piece of living art without commandeering valuable workspace. In this design, a green wall was installed in the common area to create a soothing atmosphere while keeping the air clean and cool.
Bodley points out that office workers are often exposed to invisible toxins from carpets, furniture and paint. Think formaldehyde, arsenic, carbon monoxide and VOC’s that are continuously off-gassed into the environment. “Specific plants in living green walls metabolize harmful toxins while releasing oxygen into the workplace air, much like office plants but on a larger scale.”
Beyond aesthetics and purifying air, living walls can also be used as a source for food production and to dampen noise. Perfect for condo dwellers or open office spaces, “living walls absorb and dampen noise pollution and cool the air through converting the liquid water they absorb into water vapour, which they release through their leaves (evapotranspiration),” states Bodley.
As the official living wall installer for the Monk Office Interiors DIRTT office line, Biophilia created the large wall with a lush evergreen plant palette. The design concept was to assemble green and white hues in a flowing vertical pattern to maintain the colourful modern aesthetic.
Planting a variety of colours, textures and sizes, Bodley creates actual art forms with striking hues and dynamic designs. Living walls can be any size and will accommodate flowering perennials, beautiful foliage plants, ground covers and even bushes, shrubs, and small trees. According to Bodley, evergreen plants with robust root systems are the most ideal for living walls. “Plants that stay delicate and don’t become overly large with thick stems are the best vertical growers.”
In terms of maintenance, Bodley adds that some systems have built-in reservoirs where irrigation is pumped on a timer where other walls will require manual watering. She recommends monthly pruning and removing any dead leaves to keep the wall looking tidy. “Depending on the design, the plants will typically require daily watering and weekly monitoring of the moisture levels as changes in seasons and interior temperature control will affect the moisture of the soil.”
“There is definitely a growing awareness of the beauty and health benefits of living walls, not only for public and commercial spaces but residential as well.” Building smaller, less complex installations in residential settings, Bodley develops these home systems based on both the client’s budget and their knowledge of plants.