Sourced from Dwell
Known by several names including green walls, living walls, or vertical gardens, these architectural elements can be found on exteriors or interiors of buildings, and can range in size from just a few square feet to entire walls in atrium spaces. They were first developed by Stanley Hart White, a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Illinois, in 1938; he created a patent for his "vegetation-bearing architectonic structure and system," but the invention didn’t really take off.
The Rise of the Vertical Garden
Fast forward about seven or eight decades, and living walls are some of the most popular, vibrant ways to incorporate plants and greenery indoors and out, often in aesthetically pleasing ways. A green wall is essentially a wall, or part of a wall, that is covered with greenery growing in soil or another type of substrate. Most living walls also incorporate an integrated water delivery system because the classic method of watering plants with a watering can or hose isn’t efficient for vertical walls.
When used on the exterior of buildings, vertical gardens are most frequently found in cities, where the plants act as an additional layer of insulation and help reduce the overall temperatures of the building from solar radiation or prevent warm air from leaving the building. Some research has also shown that living walls may help purify gray water, or gently used water from bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines.
When vertical gardens are used on the interiors of buildings, they can help improve air quality not only because plants naturally remove carbon dioxide and produce oxygen-rich air, but also because plants can filter the air around them by absorbing and cleaning pollutants. When they’re used inside, living green walls frequently act as a three-dimensional, living piece of artwork, providing an aesthetic component as well as a health element.