Bring Life to Your Office with Living Walls

10/11/2018 By Rachel Kats

For nearly a decade Sagegreenlife has been growing and evolving in the biophilic design sphere, much like the visually stunning and sustainable living wall installations it creates.

Bringing these types of installations, as well as a variety of plants and greenery, into living and workspaces is a part of the growing Biophilic Design Movement. And for good reason: research has shown that bringing nature indoors has tremendous health and wellness benefits, such as enhancing productivity, reducing stress and improving air quality.

Sagegreen Living Walls
Living Walls Photography Courtesy of Sagegreenlife

“We’re really just starting to get all that data in from these new studies; it’s really exciting as this trend is moving forward,” Nathan Beckner, Sagegreenlife’s horticulturist and lead plant designer.

Living Walls Forming a Partnership

Recognizing the importance of greenery in the workplace and wanting to improve accessibility, Gensler teamed up with Sagegreenlife. Gensler’s ideas and design iterations paired with Sagegreenlife’s patented hydroponic technology resulted in the Verdanta Collection, a small, stand-alone structure that can be used as a cubicle or space partition.

“The whole concept was to take our technology that we use for really large installations, whether it’s interior or exterior, and kind of shrink that down into something that was feasible to have in an interior office environment,” Beckner explained.

Sagegreen Living Walls
Living Walls Photography Courtesy of Sagegreenlife

In the past, living walls needed to be installed like a typical load-bearing wall and required expensive renovations. For firms, particularly those that lease, the cost and project management required to install the living walls was off-putting.

“Even though a lot of spaces don’t lend themselves to these higher-end custom installs, people can still have a green wall in their office space; they don’t have to redo the plumbing, redo the walls, things like that,” Beckner explained.

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With the prevalence of open-concept offices, this solution can serve as a room divider and acts similar to a lightweight white board that can moved from one location to another—within one office or to an entirely new location—and it’s also low maintenance. It comes pre-manufactured, the plants are pre-grown, so everything arrives fully finished and mobile.

“You could have interior living modules, in a sense, in lieu of any kind of cubicle. You could have this beautiful living mobile art piece in your office.” 

Technology and Challenges

Creating the living walls is no small feat. It requires combining a variety of technologies that mimic an ideal outdoor environment, that counteract gravity’s pull on vertically growing plants, and that complies with strict building and fire codes.  

[More Living Walls: Re-creating the Sound Barrier]

“We had to keep in mind means of egress. We couldn’t have anything sticking out too far but also keep all those apparatuses—you know, the tanks, the pumps and everything—hidden in a beautifully designed structure,” Beckner explained. “Those were a couple of things that were pretty challenging.”

Sagegreen Living Walls
Living Walls Photography Courtesy of Sagegreenlife

Technologically speaking, lighting proved to be challenging. Of course, no living thing can survive without the right lighting, but in this case the light source needed to not only be functional, but also aesthetically pleasing.

“Everything is about lighting, if something is poorly lit it always looks bad whether it’s a plant, an interior space or anything. That was really challenging because plants need a certain range of blue light and red light in the spectrum,” Beckner said.

Sagegreen Living Walls
Living Walls Photography Courtesy of Sagegreenlife

Together with Kessil (creator of advanced LED lighting products) they found a white light with a color temperature around 5000k that blended well with the other lighting schemes in the environment but also met the plant’s needs. 

Looking ahead, Beckner said they hope to continue collaborations with Gensler as they plan to innovate and modify their existing products, with hopes of providing more options as well as improving the accessibility of their products.

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