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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.