Posted by: theoriginalmiss | November 29, 2012

Green Wall, 2012

This Green Wall was part of the “Windows of Sustainability” project that I did with artist, Belinda Kit Ping Chiu and civil engineer, Orson Thien through Imaging the Land International Research Initiative (ILIRI) at UNSW’s Arid Lands Research Station at Fowlers Gap.  It is a simple idea, and was used to underpin the windows in the project, but it does, however, merit a mention of its own due to its implications in sustainable construction.  It is still in the exploratory stages but has great potential to be developed further.

Green walls are often referred to as living walls, vertical vegetated complex walls, green facades, vertical gardens or bio or eco walls:  for some they are soil-less vertical gardens of epiphytic and lithophytic plants grown on the facade of buildings for predominately aesthetic qualities (The Greenwall Company, 2012; Green Roofs Australasia, 2012).  Other companies use specially designed systems that allow plants to be grown vertically together in individual pots (Greenwall Australia, 2012).  The benefits of green walls are many:  good use of space, allowing plants, including vegetables and fruit, to be grown in small gardens, extremely aesthetically pleasing with the potential to add “green” value to a property, not to mention air quality control, assistance in noise reduction, as well as thermal regulation of buildings, thus reducing heating and cooling costs.  These factors are extremely important considerations in our increasingly heated world, and assist in tackling Urban Heat Island Effect: thus of course, appropriate plant selection is crucial to ensure their survival.

Green bricks, on the other hand, are usually bricks made from mud or other recycled or recyclable materials for use in sustainable construction.  Our bricks were inspired by green bricks made of soft drink cans, as seen in the 2007 documentary “Garbage Warrior” by Oliver Hodge about eco architect Michael Reynolds and his Earthships (Open Eye Media, 2012). We then combined the idea with that of green walls to achieve a living, breathing modular construction.

The green bricks (like the examples in the gallery here) present another example of how to use the myriad pipes discarded into the waste stream and give them a second life in sustainable construction. We made them by cutting and wiring together, in this case 6, short lengths of plumbing pipe,  sourced, like the electrical pipes in the “windows”, from the tip at Broken Hill. The wire was left over from a fencing job and thus also given a second life being reused in this project.

Once wired together, the pipe bricks were filled with local soil and the plants chosen for their suitability to the particular local environment.  We were advised that “Pigface” was a perfect plant for the extreme desert weather conditions occurring in the Fowlers Gap area, although we also experimented, less successfully, with other species.

In a construction project proper, drip lines would need to be used: we envisage that they would need to be running vertically into the pipes in order to water the plants.  The stones that made up the dry stonewall were sourced locally in Fowlers Gap.  This reliance on waste from the local tip, along with other locally sourced natural and man made materials, ensures that this green wall has the potential to be constructed anywhere in the world.

References:

The Greenwall Company Website, 2012, available at: http://www.greenwall.com.au/    (accessed 28 November 2012)

Greenwall Australia website, 2012, available at: http://greenwallaustralia.com.au/ (accessed 28 November 2012)

Green Roofs Australasia website, 2012, available at: http://greenroofsaustralasia.com.au/green-walls    (accessed 28 November 2012)

Open Eye Media website, 2012, available at: http://www.garbagewarrior.com/    (accessed 28 November 2012)

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