This seminar will research, design and discuss living wall systems, specifically focusing on those of hot and dry climates. A living wall —comprised of plants rooted in growing media attached to a wall itself— holds environmental benefits and potential for buildings and dense urban conditions. As such, the course will investigate historical, contemporary and emerging methods and manifestations of this alternative facade formation. Such biological systems offer data to discern and visualize multi-scalar aspects of nature in the urban condition.
Most conventional design projects and planning endeavors in the built environment rarely monitor and report upon site performance and benefits. Building upon its interdisciplinary roots, the course will also discuss the performance metrics of a Living Wall that address topics in urban ecology, architecture, landscape architecture, and operations and maintenance. To these ends, performance data from living walls include physical information such as, surface temperatures, sound decibels, soil media characteristics, irrigation use and maintenance activities, in addition to biological information such as, plant mortality, recruitment, reproductive health and cover, and invertebrate richness and behavior. The course will aim to examine these factors with regard to a research and design process.
The course is divided into three projects each with a specific emphasis on a corresponding living wall investigation: research, design and thesis. The class will typically act as a lecture and discussion group, with occasional field trip, critique, workshop or guest lecturer. The class will also address fundamental issues of material reality via representation. Students will be expected to come prepared to discuss readings and verbally and visually present research.