It would appear that the vegetative design gurus at Vancouver-based Green Over Grey have gone and one-upped themselves with a project that manages to bust the firm’s previous record-shattering feat of vertical gardening.
Titled “Mountains & Trees, Pebbles & Waves,” North America’s (newest) largest living wall spans 10,150-square-feet — over triple the size of Green Over Grey’s former record-holding living wall installation at the Semiahoo Public Library in Surrey, B.C., which, at 3,000-square-feet, seems positively miniscule in comparison. Also located in the sprawling Vancouver suburb of Surrey, the firm’s largest work to date brings a spectacular amount of gorgeous greenery to a place that most of us normally associate with, well, grey: a massive, Walmart-anchored suburban shopping mall.
Covering both the east and west sides of a pedestrian overpass that connects two roadway divided-sections of Surrey’s Guildford Town Centre, the 50,000 individual plant-strong (a total of 120 species are represented) installation isn’t just North America’s largest living wall — it’s also, according to Green Over Grey, the only vertical garden in North America to be built directly over an active roadway.
Like past Green Over Grey installations including the world’s largest indoor vertical garden, the 15-story “Currents” in Quebec, "Mountains & Trees, Pebbles & Waves” is completely hydroponic and is built with the firm’s patented paneling system that swaps out planter boxes for waterproof “eco-panels” made from upcycled plastic bags and single-use water bottles.
Green Over Grey estimates that the installation at Guildford Town Centre helped to divert 20 metric tons of plastic waste from B.C. landfills.
While lovely to look at, “Mountains & Trees, Pebbles & Waves” does serve a higher purpose than horticulture-centric shopping mall aesthetics.
For one, the installation acts as a plus-sized carbon sink, capable of absorbing a similar amount of CO2 from the atmosphere as 47 mature, medium-sized trees. Composed primarily of native vegetation, the dual-sided wall also acts as an urban biodiversity magnet that attracts ladybugs, bees and small birds. There's also the energy-saving perks in the form of reduced cooling and heating requirement withins the roadway-straddling structure. Essentially, the vegetation-clad walls form an insulating blanket around the 104th Avenue-bridging connector that houses a handful of shops and the mall's administrative offices.
The installation’s name is a reference to the two distinct faces of the wall: driving westbound toward the Pacific coast, motorists will see the east face of the wall — the “Pebbles & Waves” side with Green Over Grey lead designer Mike Weinmaster’s artistic representation of a British Columbian coastal scene. On the opposite side of the overpass, eastbound motorists will drive under a design that depicts a mountainous, tree-studded landscape.
Weinmaster elaborates on the inspiration behind the design:
I wanted to gather inspiration from the natural beauty that one would experience while crossing our province. Starting with the mountains; I am a huge fan of still photography and mountains provide the organic and free-flowing patterns which we've found resonate best with people when viewing our planted work.Forests and trees are what fill the mountains and valleys of BC. Some trees are botanical works of art without a single flaw. While others, such as those growing on craggy outcrops, do the best with what they have been dealt. Some grow into bizarre looking bonsais providing inspiration and the power to expand our creativity.Free-forming tumbling and the natural curvature of waves are easy to incorporate into designs as they perfectly embrace rhythm and fluidity. For thousands of years waves have crashed on the coast of BC. With each impact they grind, break and then immaculately polish stones; from immense boulders to smooth pebbles. Many of these pebbles still contain the patterns of the mighty mountains from whence they came.
Gorgeous stuff all around with only one slight drawback that I can think of. Given that it hovers directly over a multiple-lane roadway (a busy one at that) at a bustling regional shopping center, “Mountains & Trees, Pebbles & Waves” will most likely prove to be a decent traffic snarler. While approaching, folks are going to want to drive slooow so that they can fully appreciate the rubberneck-inducing project’s verdant beauty.
That said, those in a big rush to get their Le Château (or H&M) on or get to a hot date at Red Robin might want to give themselves a few extra minutes.
Fortunately, Guildford Town Center shoppers don’t necessarily have to travel by car or bus down 104th Avenue to catch a glimpse of Green Over Grey’s handiwork. There’s another large (1,380-square-feet with 8,000 individual plants) living wall located inside of the recently expanded/redesigned/gussied up/LEED Gold-aiming mall titled “Celebration of Nature.” It's near Old Navy and the Sweet Factory and is very hard to miss.
Head on over to Green Over Grey to view the firm's complete portfolio including green wall installations for Microsoft, Sheraton and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
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- With Tree House, Singapore outdoes itself again in the vertical garden department