Green Wall Construction at Jardins de Babylone: Living Walls to Watch
The Man behind the Walls
Walk into the Jardins de Babylone office in the heart of Paris, and you know this green wall construction and plant landscaping company is no ordinary one. Before you can even discover the impressiveness of the team’s credentials, try to keep your eyes from widening too much and your mouth from gaping open as you see the award-winning Tree of Life or Baobab (as it is called in its native African language) in the center of the company lobby.
A trunk made entirely of cut-up bamboo pieces on top of each other spanning the floor to the ceiling has branches seemingly blended into the overhead with string-like crème-colored leaves falling straight down — How could anyone have conceptualized this masterpiece? Aside from breaking the barriers of conventional, learned-in-art-school design, it also touches an inner chord of the human soul and simply makes you feel at peace, as calm as being in the midst of the Amazon forest, which is where the Baobab truly is found.
Perhaps this is the unique talent of Amaury Gallon, the creator of the Tree of Life and its home, the company Jardins de Babylone, now renowned for green wall construction — the talent of knowing plants, keeping them alive and healthy, knowing how to use them to bring an idea to life, and knowing how to make people see that idea and feel its impact.
A taste of the Amazon forest in the lobby of Jardins de Babylone.
The award-winning Tree of Life or “Baobab”
Fortunately for the rest of the world, the Tree of Life was granted the Silver A Design Award in 2014 in the categories Landscape Planning and Garden Design at the 10th Jardins Exhibition in Paris. Now we know that borderless creativity, plant expertise, scientific knowledge and aesthetics can have a happy marriage in plant-based designs, be they green wall construction, plant furniture or landscaped gardens and terraces.
Though Gallon attended a prominent green school (thus solidifying his orientation towards environmental concerns and sustainability) and is a credentialed botanist, it all began with passion – a passion for plants and a passion for art. A mere 6 months into his first job, Gallon decided that corporate employment was not for him, and dove into what made him feel alive — greenery, flora, verdure. He followed his dream, he listened to his heart. He began with garden landscaping jobs, though understandably, this may not have been too lucrative in the beginning. One step followed another, however, and now, 13 years and more than 200 projects later, he has given his focus to green wall construction. And, his green walls and plant creations / designs are a force to contend with.
Creating, Modernizing, Upgrading
Recognized worldwide as a breakthrough in green wall construction on the scale of external building facades, the Musee du Quai Branly (Quai Branly Museum) in Jardins de Babylone’s hometown of Paris became not just a tourist spot, but also a new standard to be reached for by aspiring living garden designers and creators.
The museum’s green façade of 200 meters in length by 20 meters in height was created by living wall pioneer Patrick Blanc in 2005. The no-soil growing medium, characteristic of the Hydroponic System or Le Mur Vegetal (in French) in green wall construction, was applied for the first time on this scale. The years after this brought in a wave of vertical gardens worldwide.
Jardins de Babylone embarks on the rejuvenation & strengthening of an iconic green wall.
That Jardins de Babylone has been commissioned to give this living wall an external and structural face lift more than a decade later speaks of the company’s professionalism, its being up-to-the-minute in irrigation and insulation systems, and its fresh, inspired and innovative flora designs.
Gallon and his team lets loose design expertise, creative ideas and insulation systems upgrades for the 2018 version of the Musee du Quai Branly.
The original Musee façade held 15,000 plants and 150 varying species from countries in the main temperate zones — North and South America, Europe, Asia, the Himalayas and South Africa. By June 2018, the scheduled completion of the upgrade, the number of plants will have increased by practically 50%, and the number of species will have more than doubled.
But it is what lies beneath that adds credence to the Jardins de Babylone team of botanists, landscapers and herbalists — the insulation system created especially for this green wall construction project. Jardins de Babylone has innovated an insulation design and installed it into the green wall (“Rockwool” – now among the menu of green wall designs available in the company). This infuses a thermal and acoustic insulation system into the structure of this green wall construction.
It may not be much of a surprise that upon completion of the project, an influx of curious visitors, plant lovers and living garden enthusiasts will occur, granting the Musee du Quai Branly new life and a renewed grandeur. And Jardins de Babylone will have been intimately involved and will remain part of this green wall’s history, a testimony to the majesty of green wall construction.
What Jardins de Babylone Offers
Green wall construction showcases the company’s expertise in plant design and irrigation and insulation systems, but noteworthy as well are its plant furniture and designs, hanging gardens, indoor and outdoor green walls, and gardens and terraces.
The company has left its living wall stamp on the external facades of buildings, hotel and company lobbies, restaurant, office and private homes’ interiors in France and other continents around the world.
A patent on waterproofing
Perhaps a valid concern for indoor green walls is water management: drippings may destroy floor surfaces long term and over-irrigation may attract insects. This however, has been addressed through the waterproofed green wall of Jardins de Babylone. Without sacrificing the irrigation needs of the wall, a sufficient level of dryness on the stems, leaves and flowers can be maintained such that sensitive appliances like refrigerators, microwave ovens can be kept in close proximity to the wall.
A green wall construction with a guarantee
Along with the aesthetics of the unique Jardins de Babylone designs, there is a 10-year guarantee on the non-plant elements of the green wall, namely, the textile, metallic structure, et al. – something unique in the company’s menu in the industry of green wall construction. None other offer it to date.
Maintenance contract along with their know-how
Jardins de Babylone offers clients a maintenance contract straightaway. Needless to say, this takes a load off a client in terms of overall maintenance concerns — leave it up to Jardins de Babylone to keep your green wall fresh, alive, and thriving for the years to come: as your children grow into teenagers, as your company expands and grows, and so will have your green wall.
Then there is the aforementioned irrigation system which is built into the metal screen system that supports the growing medium or substrate (called hydrophilic felt — this takes the place of soil, where the plants will be situated and where they will grow on the wall). The zero wastage irrigation system is exactly that – it catches excess water and recycles it back into the system along with the fertilizer, thus maximizing water usage and preventing wastage.
Because of the patented hydrophilic felt, the textile fabric that houses and nurtures the plants, Gallon can worry less about their collective weight in green wall construction. This fabric was developed by the company specially to withstand loads of up to 350 kilos (a human being can safely hang on to it without it tearing). It was built for good water retention, for being lightweight, and to be environment-friendly (made from recycled material). These qualities have given the Jardins de Babylone team much flexibility in terms of creative design in green wall construction. This material also steers clear of compaction (soil particles packed closer together, increasing its density) and other negative long term effects of using soil as a substrate in green wall construction.
Below is a table of the company’s green wall design technology. Simple descriptions help the reader decide on the best for one’s needs. Further consultation with Gallon will iron out further concerns:
Types of Green Wall Construction at Jardins de Babylone
|Design||Best for||Basic feature||Cost|
|Hydrophilic Felt||Indoors; if outdoors, only in tropical weather (Asia, etc.) Commonly used for interiors of companies, hotels, restaurants, homes||No frame; Plants hang from the textile fabric||Euro 500 / square meter|
|Gabion (Metal Screen Frame)||Outdoors, can take winter weather. Commonly used for company building and hotel external facades.||Metal structure supports geotextile fabric where the plants are fastened||Euro 700 / square meter|
|Rock Wool||Outdoors; Provides good insulation to conserve electricity for heating / airconditioning||NEWEST INNOVATION
2-3 Layers of textile fabric hold the plants, combined with rockwool insulation
|Euro 550 / square meter|
|Green Curtain||Outdoors; Best for building external facades||No soil or textile fabric. Plants grow from the ground below the building wall||Euro 200-350 / square meter|
|Liana Vegetale||Indoor and Outdoor||Plants are set along building gutters or on indoor hanging pipes||Euro 350 / square meter|
Though prices are visibly in Euros and green wall construction materials are sourced in France, Jardins de Babylone reaches out to other areas of the continent: Prague and Switzerland, as well as counties beyond — Canada, Mexico and Dubai – to build its living walls.
Currently in its sights are projects in the Asian and African continents. Green wall construction in different temperate zones necessitate adapting to the local weather, availability of indigenous flora, and building materials for the metal structures / irrigation systems (if necessary). These, Gallon and his team are ready to do.
What Green Wall Construction Can Do
Green wall construction boasts of more than beautification of a cement wall. It actually helps the ecological system – if done outdoors, it provides a habitat for species of birds and insects right smack in the center of a concrete jungle. That is, normally in a place where there could be no natural, safe haven for them to survive if there were no green wall. Being a lover of nature and the organic, Gallon is spurred forward by this advocacy.
It has to be mentioned though, that the hydrophilic felt used by Jardins de Babylone discourages insect and small animal habitation because of the absence of water retention, thus eliminating this as a possible irritant for office employees, house occupants or hotel guests.
The no-waste irrigation system utilized in Jardins de Babylone green wall construction notably allows for recycling of used irrigating fluid. The latter is held in a water tank, distributed along the wall by a motorized pump, and excess liquid is caught and returned to the tank. The recycled water passes a filter before being pumped back into the green wall. This actually allows for higher water conservation in green walls than in horizontal gardens.
Just like a winter coat in the dead of freezing cold and the cooling shade of a palm tree’s leaves at the height of the summer sun, a green wall neutralizes both extremes of weather temperature — warming the interior in winter and cooling a building in the summer. This unique feature makes green wall construction a prime consideration in savings on consumption of electricity for both heating and airconditioning, making it quite ideal for both temperate and tropical areas. Thus, the new thrust of Jardins de Babylone of bringing the green wall to the warmer continents.
A solution for sick-building syndrome
And who can contest the simple inspiration and joy beautiful plants bring to a person walking alongside a green wall on the street or in an office lobby? Office employees contained in a white or gray-wall edifice 8 or more hours a day have been known to report various symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, low energy, restlessness or even personality changes for no apparent medical reason, and mysteriously, once away from said venue, are relieved from the selfsame symptoms. This sick-building syndrome has been known to be alleviated by interior green walls. One of the possible factors mentioned for the sick-building syndrome is impure air, something flora naturally eliminates by virtue of its carbon dioxide absorption and oxygen production. Here again, green wall construction saves the day.
A painting brought to life by a master utilizes oils and watercolor of a myriad of shades and palettes, but a green wall’s medium is living foliage, reflecting chlorophyll absorbed from the golden rays of the sun and emanating pacifying and life-giving energy. Nature has granted man various shades, shapes and sizes of flowers and leaves to indulge one’s creative leanings in designing a green wall. Is it a wonder that more and more, as we move forward into the 21st century, we return to the realization that what is natural reigns supreme, providing beauty, health, inspiration and life, and perhaps we see this clearly in green wall construction in a major way? This, Jardins de Babylone has come to see, and thus seeks to promulgate.green architecture