GPW: Hotel Ushüaia Low-Tech Vertical Garden

June 28, 2011 at 10:21 pm Project of the Week: 6/20/11
Hotel Ushüaia Low-Tech Vertical Garden
Ibiza, Spain
3,735 sf. Greenwall

Year: 2011
Owner: Hotel Ushüaia
Location: Ibiza, Spain
Building Type: Commercial
Type: Living Wall
System: Single Source Provider
Size: 3,735 sq.ft.  
Slope: 100%
Access: Accessible, Open to Public

Project Description & Details

The newest vertical garden project from the young Spanish firm Urbanarbolismo was completed on May 20, 2011, in collaboration with Alijardín and Alicante forestal. Situated in the Hotel Ushüaia de Ibiza, the four panel eco.bin greenwall acts as a sound barrier between the open air disco located in the hotel’s central courtyard and the neighboring guest rooms. The unique garden wall system consists of rows of ceramic terracotta containers whose circular openings are individually filled with growing medium and planted.

Each interconnected planted ceramic, with its own substrate and vegetation, works together to create this sound-absorbent garden space. Keeping in account the climatic characteristics of the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, the designers have selected a variety of crassula, euphorbia, echeveria, aeonium, kalanchoe, sedum and sedeveria which can adapt to these conditions. In comparison to complex automated vertical gardening systems, this type requires a more personalized maintenance regime, yet the designers feel this low-tech typology option also offers more people a greater possibility of having a vertical garden of their own.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record

Architect & Designer: Urbanarbolismo
Greenwall System: eco.bin
Construction: Urbanarbolismo + Alicante forestal + Alijardín

Additional Info

In Spanish, “Urbanarbolismo” literally means “UrbanTreeism” – wow, it sounds very tree huggerish yet obviously on a larger, urban scale – and that’s part of the philosophy of this design/build architect-led group of designers.  They believe there is no division between urban and natural: Urban development should not only create a space for us; we should ameliorate previous ecosystems and if they were not present, we should find ways to recreate them.  Known for a handful of previous local greenroofs and greenwalls, founding principal Jordi Serramia Ruiz tells us that this is their first project utilizing their new greenwall system called “eco.bin.”

The design of the plant-filled ceramic greenwall allows for  curvaceous, undulating, and sweeping vistas, creating a sense of dizzying vertigo with colorful succulents – nonetheless  beautiful and eco-friendly while cleansing the air and providing a sound barrier to boot.  You have to admit that along with their own resident mega-ants, seen above crawling up the stark white stucco walls, the Hotel Ushüaia Low-Tech Vertical Garden  is truly unique!  And strategically placed accent lighting highlights the spiky leaves of the succulent vegetative  structures seen poking through their ceramic plant holes.

Developed by Urbanarbolismo as a way to make vegetated walls affordable to most people, four separate panels help define the intimate space, including  a smaller living wall greeting people the entrance from the outside of the hotel below:

Once you plant the wall, you’re set, and the low-maintenance drip-irrigation watering system also keeps it low-tech, especially since they’re designed to tilt towards each interior cell, thereby retaining water at the bottom for future use.

The design appears to be avant-guard in its execution while promising to be easy and low-tech.  Seeing how this one-month old greenwall is brand-spanking new, let’s see how it develops and fares over time.  If you visit this gorgeous party island of Ibiza and get to the popular Hotel Ushüaia, send us some photos to share!

Read more, in Spanish, at Urbanarbolismo’s May 30, 2011  blog post: Jardín vertical low-tech en Ibiza. Urbanarbolismo.

Did we miss something?  We’d love to hear from you!  Click  here to see more information about this project in  The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.  See how you can submit yours  here.

Love the Earth, Plant a Roof!

~ Linda V.

GPW: YVR Canada Line Station 4 Living Wall

March 26, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Last week’s  Greenwall Project of the Week (GPW) was the beautiful YVR Canada Line Station 4 Living Wall, located at the Vancouver International (YVR)  Airport’s SkyTrain station.   The first Canadian airport to install a greenwall, international visitors to this beautiful city are greeted by the living tapestry, just one of the sustainable initiatives and ecological solutions for the airport.   Since YVR is situated within the estuary of the Fraser River on Sea Island, a large conservation project was created here to offset the environmental impact the airport causes, including a wildlife preserve and public beaches.

Inaugurated  early in August 2009, months in advance of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic  and Winter Paralympics, the $1.9 billion (CAD)  Canada Line is a rail-based rapid transit line linking central Richmond, Canada, the Vancouver International Airport and downtown Vancouver, B.C.    The Canada Line terminus at YVR-Airport Station is linked by a bridge to an award-winning $125-million (CAD), five-story steel and glass structure known as the Link.   Connecting to both the international and domestic terminals, the Link’s  signature  oval structure provides a unique visual connection to the land, sea and sky that surround the airport.  

Designed to eliminate visual interference, the  YVR Canada Line Station 4 station sits  60 feet high straddling a road.   Both the YVR Station and the Link were designed by Kasian Architecture with Read Jones Christoffersen as structural engineers,  and  Sharp Diamond Landscape Architecture was brought in to design the massive green wall and other features.

One of the largest living walls in North America (the largest at the time in 2009), it measures 17.0m high and 11.6m wide (about 55.8 feet x 38  feet), and houses a total of 27,391 individual plants!   Landscape architect Randy Sharp used a modular system by G-Sky, a B.C. based company, for this living wall that encompasses  2,107 stainless steel  panels.    His design concept stresses the connection of the vegetated wall  to the rapid transit station to the ground.

Randy was also  involved with the Landscape Master Plan for the Vancouver International Airport and its unique ecological environment.   He says his overall vision for the Grant McConachie Way corridor, which leads into YVR,  was to serve as a natural gateway linking Vancouver to B.C., Canada, and the world beyond.   Drawing upon the estuary thematics of Sea Island, he desired the landscape experience  to feature a four-season effect in a bold design that would grow and evolve over time.   Highlights include major tree and shrub planting to enhance view corridors, other landscape designs for various Canada Line Stations, the ongoing development of a multi-use trail system for Sea Island, and a gateway feature signage program.

“Green facades and living walls provide an exciting fresh canvas for landscape architects and designers to be creative.     These vertical landscapes provide as yet unexplored opportunities for biodiversity, greywater treatment, urban agriculture and energy performance, not to mention the creation of green collar jobs.” ~ Randy Sharp

But the stunning greenwall isn’t the only green  element here – two  greenroofs, one extensive and the second intensive – are also featured.   First Nations art inside and outside the terminal grace the property, too, and enhance the sense of place.

Randy has designed and installed another  of metro Vancouver’s most significant living walls, the  Aquaquest, the Marilyn Blusson Learning Centre, Vancouver Aquarium  – the first modular living wall in North America, as well as many greenroofs, too.   In fact, he and his company have received multiple awards in design excellence for both greenroofs and walls.

There’s been a lot of public commentary (and pride) about the green design of  YVR Canada Line Station 4’s living wall, particularly in the blogosphere.   While not everyone appreciates the environmental benefits of greenwalls, everyone loves the aesthetics.   Responding to a blog post last summer in Price Tags, John Wilson retorted:

“This specific green wall sends a message to everyone visiting Vancouver (and Canada). That message is that we’re a progressive cosmopolitan city that cares about the world and the environment, and we’re open to using new methods and technologies because we’re also big on innovation. We’re a player in the world. Interesting things are happening here.”

Vancouver, B.C., is indeed a progressive,  green city that’s always included  at the top of the world’s most livable cities.   The Vancouver Airport Authority also maintains a Public Observation Area here where people of all ages can see take-offs and landings and learn about the area’s unique ecology and history, too, with all sorts of hands-on activities.   See a video about it here.

Next time you’re at YVR, check out their new green wall  at Canada Line Station 4.   According to locals, the best views are from the parkade bridge connecting the International Terminal at Departures level 3, or from Chester Johnson Park, International Terminal Arrivals level 2.

~ Linda V.