New "biological concrete" can be used to build living walls.
Spain's a leader in plant-covered walls, from the "vegitecture" in Barcelona to Patrick Blanc's gorgeous design of 15,000 plants on the wall of the Caixa Forum Museum in Madrid. Now, Spanish researchers at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) have taken green walls a step further, by creating a type of concrete specifically designed to support plant life.
The material, manufactured with magnesium phosphate, helps mosses, lichens, and certain types of other small plants grow. Particular patterns in the concrete help store rainwater while protecting the building itself. When buildings are constructed with the new material, the walls will quickly turn green.
Typical green walls are built with complex attachments to a building, which can cause additional stress on the building's walls and can also be difficult to water and maintain. This new concrete eliminates the need for any kind of additional supports. Further, patterns of plants can be added to the walls to easily create living 'paintings.'
This isn't just a way to make cities look better, but it can actually help reduce greenhouse gases. The walls capture and store CO2, and insulate the building, helping reduce air conditioning and heating inside.
The concrete hasn't been released on the market yet, but the researchers say they already have commercial interest.
Images courtesy of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya