Page E2.1 . 08 September 2004                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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    Literally Green Facades

    by Nigel Dunnett and NoŽl Kingsbury

    "Facade greening" is essentially the use of a living ó and therefore self-regenerating ó cladding system for buildings in which climbing plants, or in some cases trained shrubs, cover the surface of a building.

    Climbers can dramatically reduce the maximum temperatures of a building by shading walls from the sun. They can reduce the daily temperature fluctuation by as much as 50 percent, a fact of great importance in warm-summer climate zones.

    The practice of greening facades is long established in parts of Europe, largely, but not entirely, for ornamental purposes. It is quite common to see houses covered in Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus tricuspidata), but its supporting structure is often completely inadequate.

    Traditionally, self-clinging climbers have been used because they require no supporting network of wires or trellis. Modern facade greening, however, favors the use of climbers supported by steel cables or trellis, holding the plants away from the building surface.

    Species and cultivars of wisteria, particularly Wisteria sinensis, are among the most popular really large climbers, and there are few sights more magnificent than a huge plant, which may be more than a century old, smothered in its smoky blue-violet flowers in early summer.   >>>

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    This article is excerpted from Planting Green Roofs and Living Walls by Nigel Dunnett and NoŽl Kingsbury, with permission of the publisher, Timber Press, Inc.



    ArchWeek Image

    An example of a greened facade: a well-managed ivy (Hedera helix) on a four-story building in ZŁrich, Switzerland.
    Photo: Nigel Dunnett and NoŽl Kingsbury

    ArchWeek Image

    A mixture of climbers and wall shrubs is used at the Danish Museum of Modern Art. Annual maintenance keeps growth away from the gutters and eaves.
    Photo: Nigel Dunnett and NoŽl Kingsbury


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