Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Athenaeum Hotel Vertical Garden

Source: Athenaeum Hotel
Artist: Patrick Blanc
Schedule: completed in 2009

Patrick Blanc is THE expert in Green-walls (aka living-walls and breathing walls). He is an award-winning artist and research scientist. He had been for decades examining the way that numerous wild plants naturally grow on vertical rock faces and trees, and since then he has been on a mission to transform concrete walls into beautiful havens of biodiversity. His famous Vertical Gardens hang all over the world, from Bangkok to Paris, New York to Tokyo… and now London in the Athenaeum Hotel.

Using his pioneering planting techniques, Patrick Blanc has created another spectacular Living Wall at the athenaeum. It uses more species of plants than any other Vertical Garden in the UK - including the world's biggest single collection of Urticaceae. Patrick carefully collected the different species from dripping warm locations all over East Asia. Next, he propagated the plants in a nursery in the South of France then inserted the roots into the specially constructed, irrigated felt at the athenaeum.

Patrick perfected a technique that enables urban plants to grow vertically without the need for soil. A system of slats is used to secure artificial felt and myriads of strategically placed plant roots, with automated watering and fertilisation. Basically he uses a kind of techno-trellis as the underlying structure: A plastic-coated aluminum frame is fastened to the wall and covered with synthetic felt into which plant roots can burrow. A custom irrigation system keeps the felt moist with a fertilizer solution modeled after the rainwater that trickles through forest canopies.

The vertical garden at the Athenaeum is eight stories tall, has 260 plant species and more than 12,000 plants. But plants for this vertical landscape must be chosen with care. Because the walls are so high, conditions vary widely. The shade at ground level is perfect for rare Asian nettles; on the brighter upper stories, plants that usually cling to windblown cliff faces brave the blustery British breezes. Noteworthy species include:
  • Adiantum capillus-veneris (From warm temperate and tropical climates - Colin no country listed)
  • Begonia grandis PB (Green - from China and Japan)
  • Begonia grandis PB (Dark red - from China and Japan)
  • Begonia pedatifida PB (China)
  • Billbergia nutans (South Brazil)
  • Corydalis cheilanthifolia (China)
  • Cyrtomium macrophyllum (Japan)
  • Fascicularia bicolour (Chile)
  • Ficus erecta var. sieboldii (South Korea)
  • Fuchsia hatschbachii (South Brazil)
  • Fuchsia regia (South Brazil)
  • Hemiboea cf. strigosa PB (China)
  • Impatiens arguta (Himalayas and East Africa)
  • Impatiens mengtzeana (Himalayas and East Africa)
  • Impatiens sp 1 (yellow) (Himalayas and East Africa)
  • Impatiens sp 2 (pink) (Himalayas and East Africa)
  • Iris japonica (Japan and China)
  • Lonicera pileata (China)
  • Rubus ichangensis (Colin - no country listed)
  • Stachyurus salicifolius (China)
  • Boehmeria platyphylla (India)
  • Boehmeria tricuspis (Japan)
  • Debregeasia longifolia (India)
  • Elatostema radicans var. minimum (Japan)
  • Elatostema scabrum (Japan)
  • Elatostema umbellatum var. majus (Japan)
  • Elatostema umbellatum `Dents de Kyoto' (Japan)
  • Pilea matsudai (Ta├»wan)
  • Pilea peperomioides (China)
  • Pilea petiolaris (Japan)
  • Pilea scripta (India)
  • Pilea umbrosa (India)
  • Pilea plataniflora (Sikkim)

As well as the aesthetic benefits, the vertical garden will also act as a natural air purification system and act as natural insulation for the building (for more information about the benefits of living walls click here)

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