Students at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture (UTSOA) have just finished the installation of a “living wall” as an experiment in green architecture on campus. The honeycomb-shaped structure spans 10 by 25 feet and wraps around the doorway of a building on the architecture schools’ northwest corner.
This project was five years in the making and was realized through a partnership between UTSOA and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, a public botanical garden that is now a part of The University of Texas at Austin. Each of the wall’s cells contains a different type of native plant, including red yucca, nolina, and Mexican feathergrass.
In choosing plants for the wall, designers took care to select hardy, drought-resistant plants that could withstand the hot, dry weather of Texas Hill Country. The project required a custom structure that allows individual cells to hold more soil than would typically be used in a green wall; this provided a growing environment more suited to the region’s harsh climate. The wall will also provide an artificial habitat for native wildlife like anole lizards, birds, and butterflies.
In addition to beautifying the building, the living wall provides environmental benefits to the campus. The structure provides noise buffering, storm water retention, building cooling, and air filtering to residents of the architecture school. Data collected as the plants continue to grow will give designers insight into whether further green design projects can be implemented elsewhere on campus.