Capella Garcia Arquitectura has completed the Green Side-Wall, a free-standing plant support structure forming a protective mass of vegetation on a façade in Barcelona, creating a vertical garden. The demolition of an old building left a former party wall visible from the street, creating a negative visual impact on the cityscape. In response, the designers have created an integrative intervention that uses living material as one of its main components. The project is promoted by the Barcelona City Council and, according to the architects, "represents the birth of a novel type of construction in the field of 'vegitecture'".
The project consists of a free-standing metal structure on an independent foundation, parallel to the façade of an existing building. From street level, the structure becomes gradually narrower as it rises to a height of 21 metres. From the first to the eighth level of the building, modular flower-planters are arranged on metal platforms around the perimeter of the two distinct levels. These platforms can be reached, with restricted access, from the ground floor by interior steps. This convenience of interior access to the plants differentiates this structure from other vertical greenery. Maintenance and replanting traditionally is done from the exterior using elevating platforms, making the process a difficult and expensive one requiring specialised labour.
Covering a formerly exposed blind wall visually enhanced the site. The green façade is a continually changing, living surface that protects the wall of the building against the elements, providing cooling in summer and thermal insulation in winter. It generates oxygen and absorbs CO2, protecting against pollution, filtering the dust and other particulate contaminants, and forming an acoustic screen that dampens noise.
The entire structure is built in prefabricated galvanised steel assembled on site. Similarly, the platforms on each level are galvanised expanded metal. Three planters are located in this space as well as integrated wooden benches, a fountain and a telescope enabling the flora and fauna to be observed in detail. Several cut-out silhouettes of birds in galvanised steel plate are positioned on the façade. The free-standing structure is inspired by the form of a tree. For maintenance of the vegetation that forms the façade, all requirements for cleaning, safety and sustainability have been accounted for (including a pulley system to transport materials). Water consumption is minimised by means of an automatic programmed drop-by-drop irrigation system with controlled drainage and automatic doses of fertiliser. Nesting boxes are also integrated.
Capella Garcia Arquitectura: Green Side-wall
Design: Capella Garcia Arquitectura S.L.P.
Architects: Juli Capella, Miquel Garcia
Project manager: Pamela Könsgen
Construction management: Pamela Könsgen
Structural Engineering: Javier Monte
Electrical Engineering: Capella Garcia Arquitectura
Quantity surveyor: Félix Lora
Promotors: Ajuntament de Barcelona. Institut Municipal del Paisatge Urbà I la Qualitat de Vida (IMPUQV)
Sponsorship: Grup Constant (Verdalis) / Natur System
Construction: Natur System
Built area: 288 square metres
Total construction budget: 214,397 euros
Execution time: 9 months
Year of the project: 2009
Completion: March 2011