GardenDrumGiant greenwall graces Vitoria-Gasteiz

Palace of Congresses. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Photo Courtesy Urbanarbolismo5

Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque area of northern Spain is home to a huge new external greenwall. It’s even got trees. Yes, in a GREENWALL. And wow, you should also see the lighting!

Palace of Congresses. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Photo Courtesy Urbanarbolismo

Palace of Congresses. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Photo Courtesy Urbanarbolismo

The 1,492 square metre project on the Palace of Congresses, from Urbanarbolismo and Unusualgreen Studios in collaboration with Urbaser and Zikotz features 33,000 plants, 97% of them native to the Alava and the Basque country. The design shows different ecosystems across the length of the building facade, from the wetland vegetation of Salburua, to the agricultural fields of Alava, and the loamy hill and beech forest ecosystems of the mountains of Vitoria.

Palace of Congresses. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Photo Courtesy Urbanarbolismo

Palace of Congresses. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Photo Courtesy Urbanarbolismo

A steel ‘footer’ running the length of the facade is both a seating bench and a unique way to illustrate and interpret the changing ecosystems along its length.

Palace of Congresses. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Photo Courtesy Urbanarbolismo

Palace of Congresses. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Photo Courtesy Urbanarbolismo

Using native plants in the project was a major challenge as many of them are drought adapted and so not at home in conventional vertical gardening systems which are usually kept perpetually moist. Urbanarbolismo developed a special f+p system made with a non woven fabric that distributes water over the facade. Planted rockwool panels are placed on the non woven fabric, which optimises the substrate saturation for these plants.

Plants include wetland Cyperus, Carex, Juncus, Scirpoides, Cirsium, Tetragonolobus and Lysimachia, a central ‘orchard’ area featuring seasonal crops, and a forest section with Ribes, Sorbus, Crataegus, Prunus, Erica, Genista, Teucrium and Bromus. There are even trees – beech and yew.

Palace of Congresses. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Photo Courtesy Urbanarbolismo

Palace of Congresses. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Photo Courtesy Urbanarbolismo

The planted facade has already significantly improved the building’s thermal efficiency and soon deciduous vines will shade the large windows in summer while allowing winter sun. And although it was only completed last November, it’s already being colonised by local birds and insects.

Palace of Congresses. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Photo Courtesy Urbanarbolismo

Palace of Congresses. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. Photo Courtesy Urbanarbolismo

Although this greenwall looks fabulous by day, its nighttime wow really sets it apart, with spectacular lightning-bolt zig-zags of LEDs picking out the river profile theme.

Urbanarbolismo specialises in greenwall installations and sustainable architecture throughout Spain.

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4 thoughts on “Giant greenwall graces Vitoria-Gasteiz

  1. Sigh……is it just me, or does this represent all that is bad about contemporary design?

    All the modernist tropes on display with a brain deadening overload of nativist, sustainable, moral fizz coupled with a pretentious and absurd referencing to natural features.

    I bet in ten years time it will be seen as just yet another tattered, squandered whim.

      • Maybe I have just reached my angry middle age, but I loathe nativist ideologues almost as much as I despise modernism.

        I could, of course, bang on about it and I can present my case well, comprising as it does, the myth of invasion biology, cultural and political models, safety, aesthetics and the use of ones imagination, but the end result wouldn’t make a fat rats worth of difference to the world….perhaps just make it angrier and more tribal, so I will leave it that.

        Best wishes to you and yours for the new year too Catherine….. think I can still say that to the end of January…

        🙂

        • I can’t comment on the appropriateness of these greenwall native plant choices because I’m not an expert in Basque country flora but then I suspect that you are not either. Which makes your comments, in this particular case, prejudice rather than evidence-based criticism. While I also don’t support choosing plants for any project based solely on their place of origin, they may be precisely the right plants to grow in this location and circumstance. And a happy new year to you too, Eugene, angry middle age and all.

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