The Styles of the City: Green Walls

Green walls are fashionable but many climates are not suited for them. If it’s hot and dry and sunny, you may be limited to stonecrop and succulents. I’ve never lived where they’ve been really practical. When I arrived in the northwest the wall in the picture was entirely bare and rather grim, something like a prison.

You’d never know it now! A jungle of vines has completely cloaked the bricks. There is a terrace at the top, over which the vines have surged like a wave to dangle down into their friends clawing up to the sky from below.

But this one is even more elaborate. Planter boxes plus elaborate trellising for the vines. This looks like a more recent installation and you can still see the supports for the plants. Once the things get going it’ll be crazily lush. This is a Mediterranean climate, rainy in the winter and dry and sunny in the summer. Plantings like this have to be watched carefully so that they don’t damage the wall behind them. But judicious planning makes it possible!.

This final wall is actually a skyscraper. It’s probably about 30 stories tall. The vines only go up maybe 7 stories. I have no idea what will happen if they get to the top! But they seem to be deciduous, dying down every winter. Notice also that the supporting rods are about 10 feet away from the glass skin of the building. This allows the windows to be washed, even opened.



About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.


The Styles of the City: Green Walls — 3 Comments

  1. I love this concept of getting green back in the city to counter the heat sink of pavement. Rooftop gardens are also booming. Some restaurants are growing all their own salad up there.

  2. Roofs are problematic, IMO. It’s hot up there and the dirt can be very heavy. It makes roof repair/replace too difficult. But I love the notion of green walls, especially if it doesn’t destroy the wall behind. There are plenty of places where it’s all stone or all concrete — lifeless.

  3. Deciduous is good as it lets the light into the windows in winter, and gives shade and cooling in summer. But it does mean the scaffolding look a bit bare and stark all winter.
    Still a good improvement for the urban climate, and the people who live there. Being able to look at greenery is good for people psychologically, too.