Living Walls – Vancouver’s Vertical Gardens

Discover Outdoors Living Walls Sylvia Hotel2

Sylvia Hotel Photo: Rob Weiss

What comes to mind when you hear “Green City?”  I suspect many Vancouverites will think of bike lanes and organic garbage bins.  Dare I divert your attention away from traffic calming and waste to living walls, an innovative, vertical garden design concept.  Picture a creative, living piece of art that is aesthetically pleasing, and also works to purify the air.  Intrigued with the concept of a living quilt, so to speak, I set my sights on discovering and photographing a few of these gems.

Discover Outdoors Living Walls YVR2

YVR Canada Line Station Living Wall Photo: Rob Weiss

I did not need to look far.  To my delight these stunning natural works of art can be found both indoors and outside.  I suppose it is fitting that visitors to the Vancouver International Airport are greeted by a magnificent, 18-meter-high and 12-meter-wide living tapestry of ferns, wildflowers and ground cover.  As the first Canadian airport to green up a wall, the YVR project is now home to 28,249 individual plants.

Discover Outdoors Living Walls Sylvia Hotel

Sylvia Hotel Photo: Rob Weiss

Reflecting on the origin of the vertical wall concept, I found myself conjuring up images of The Sylvia Hotel, a designated heritage building and Vancouver treasure.  Could the ivy covered green façade of the Sylvia be the inspiration for today’s high tech, modular biowalls?

Discover Outdoors Living Walls Semiahmoo Library - Semiahmoo Sky Garden

Semiahmoo Sky Garden by Green Over Grey Photo: Rob Weiss

To my amazement, these vegetated walls are both beautiful and functional.  They assist with sound dampening, air purification and evaporative cooling.  The different types of plants and different growing seasons means the visual effects of the walls also change.  Nature provides different textures and colours and designers create interesting patterns and designs. Each visit to a living wall is unique and varies depending on the time of day and season.

Discover Outdoors Living Walls Tourism Vancouver - Totems

Tourism Vancouver’s Totem by Green Over Grey Photo: Rob Weiss

Although singer, composer and lyricist Joni Mitchell may argue we paved paradise to put up a parking lot, with these sustainable, environmentally friendly vertical gardens we now have the ability to go green over grey, and that is something for Vancouverites to sing about.

Do you have a favourite living wall?  Please share in the comments below.

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