The second efig Gold Leaf Award to achieve a Judges Commendation in 2014’s awards is Urban Planters London South West for the design and installation of the living wall at West Elm’ London store.
Founded in 2004, GSky Plant Systems Inc. is a leading provider of vertical Green Walls in North America and the Middle East. The business was founded based on the explosive growth of green technology, including Green Wall and Roof Systems in Asia. Over the years, GSky has developed four unique Green Wall Systems of sheer artistry including: Pro Wall, Versa Wall, Basic Wall and Smart Wall for both exterior and interior Living Wall applications.
GSky’s Green Walls have been installed in several West Elm flagship stores in North America, Middle East and Australia prior to this Green Wall in London.
Proper maintenance care is vital to the health of Green Walls. After careful considerations, GSky selected Urban Planters as the landscaping maintenance company to provide installation and ongoing care to the West Elm London store’s new Green Wall.
GSky has full confidence in Urban Planters to deliver a high quality of service and provide living wall care.
The design team from GSky’s parent company Williams-Sonoma Inc’s initial intent was to feature an artistic centerpiece that will soften and bring warmth to the West Elm store environment. Thus, the concept of the living wall was born to visually represent the brand’s commitment to green initiatives. Since the introduction of GSky’s first Green Wall in the West Elm Seattle store, the Green Wall has become a signature element for the brand.
The new vertical garden in the West Elm London store is prominently displayed at the main staircase that runs from the ground floor to basement, covering 538 sq ft. of wall space.
Debbie Kotalic, the Director of Horticultural Design at GSky created the living, three-dimensional painting using seven different plant species. Adorned in 3,226 fresh potted plants, the plant design consists of soft curvilinear lines rich in depth, texture and colours. The lines create movement, flow and add height to the Green Wall to appear even taller and grander. The design had to follow a similar pattern scheme as other West Elm Green Walls in order to maintain the established ‘branded look’ for the store.
Due to the nature of the staircase, and the corner turn at the top of the staircase, the curves had to be laid out accordingly while keeping in mind maintenance accessibility. The design layout ensures that if plants need to be replaced, it does not interrupt the flow and integrity of the plant design.
Materials and installation
Living Wall System
Because of the size (538sq ft over two floors) and complexity of the installation, a bespoke access tower scaffold had to be built in and around the existing stairwell to enable safe access, egress and working platforms to the entire area. Portview, the General Contractor prior to installation, provided trim/cabinet and plywood backing. Then a waterproof membrane was fitted to the entire area. Once this is positioned the fitting of GSky Versa Trays and an automated recirculation irrigation system was installed. The system is 100% water efficient; once the plants have used up the water, any excess water is collected in the recirculation tanks for the next watering cycle. GSky’s Versa Trays are made of polypropylene; A Grade 100% recycled material.
Lastly when everything, including the water supply line and irrigation had been fully tested, the plants were placed into the Versa Trays according to the design specifications.
Additional lighting was also installed to ensure the correct lux levels are provided, and specific lamps for the living wall are connected to an automatic timer to best replicate day/night conditions.
Plants used; Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Hahnii’, Epipremnum aureum ‘Neon’, Syngonium podophyllym ‘Pixie’, Schefflera arboricola ‘Luseanne’, Peperomia caperata ‘Schummi’, Fittonia argyroneura ‘Pink’, Ficus elastica ‘Burgundy’.
In addition to being a wow-factor for the store, the Green Wall in West Elm London store is an organic element that softens the interior. The lush greenery increases people’s exposure to living, breathing plants while re-establishing our connection with nature. It is also a major centerpiece where people can stop to interact and admire the living artwork. The aesthetic appeal isn’t the only benefit; the plants used to paint the canvas of the Green Wall give people more energy-rich oxygen to breath better and feel refreshed. Research has also shown that exposure to plants enhances our well-being, provides relaxation and relieves stress.
The Green Wall is a fantastic display of living art designed to make shopping an enjoyable experience.
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