January 10, 2013 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Spanish researchers have developed a living concrete that may define a new method for creating vertical gardens and living walls on building facades. Capturing rainwater, the multilayered cement encourages and sustains the growth and viability of specific mosses and lichens directly on the material. Within about a year, the “green” cement creates a patina or living painting on the building surface.
Inherent Green Wall
Unlike other vegetated façades and vertical gardens which require plant substrates within external supporting structures, the new biological material supports growth directly on its own surface enabling coverage of an entire facade or just selected portions.
Like a Sandwich
The living concrete consists of three other layers, like a sandwich, applied to the building’s structural surface. The first is a waterproof layer which protects the structure from water seepage. The second layer is the internal biological microstructure which absorbs and retains rainwater to support the growth of organisms. The final layer, a porous coating, functions in reverse of the first waterproof layer, directing rainwater to and trapping it in the biological layer to optimize growth.
In addition to the material’s aesthetic potential, the concrete absorbs and reduces atmospheric CO2, offering insulation and functioning as a thermal regulator. There may be potential for using the concrete as a decorative element in the garden, and as a sustainable device for blending architecture into the landscape.
An Earlier Organic Concrete
In 2005, Portugese architectural firm, e-studio, created another organic concrete material, above, for ExperimentaDesign during Lisbon’s design Biennale at the Pombal Palace.
Similar to the newer biological cement, e-studio’s organic concrete consisted of a permeable material which leveraged concrete’s ability to trap and retain rainwater in order to encourage plant growth. They envisioned the organic material for urban designers and architects to create living surfaces on buildings.
Want to have your own green wall or vertical garden? Here are some other ways you can accomplish this at home…Indoors, hang a MiniGarden on your kitchen wall…outdoors, create more growing space with a super easy vertical garden.