Green Walls and Other Spaces The Hanging Gardens of New York City

With rising awareness among everyday people about climate change, global warming, and the ever-more-pressing need to be smarter and more conservation-minded when it comes to energy and the environment has come some exciting innovations in lobby and common area design. Indoor water features like waterfalls and koi ponds are no longer the rarities they once were, and 'living amenities’— including 'green walls' featuring live plants and flowers—are becoming more and more popular. 

“Indoor green walls are becoming increasingly popular for urban residences and shared spaces like lobbies,” says Gwen Schantz, chief operating officer and head of design at the Brooklyn Grange, an urban farming and design/build firm that specializes  in designing and installing green roofs, green walls and urban vegetable gardens. “They help to bring greenery—and even vegetable and herb gardens—into small interior spaces without taking up too much room.”

Not a New Idea 

The idea of a green wall is hardly novel. The 'hanging garden' constructed at great expense in the ancient, arid city of Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar some 600 years B.C. was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—and that was two and a half millennia ago. As it turns out, the old king was on to something. 

Green walls are just what the name implies: plants growing fully or partially on a wall. More sophisticated green walls, of the kind erected by the companies quoted in this article (as well as, presumably, Nebuchadnezzar), also include a soil layer, and some sort of internal irrigation system. 

There are four basic types of green walls. Loose media systems feature soil in a bag, and the bag on some sort of shelf hidden behind the front-facing surface of the wall. These are not as effective for New York exteriors because they are susceptible to damage from high winds. Mat media comprise mats of coiled fiber or felt. Egg-crate patterned polyurethane is used for sheet media walls. And the most sophisticated are the structural media, which generally combine the best aspects of the other three into the design.


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  • Ironic how those being interviewed have no successful experience w living walls ... This is an issue when the reader makes assumptions based on the article...