We are familiar with stories of man’s dominance over nature, our ability to tear down the rainforest destroying acres every second. We are also witness to nature’s resilience and slow strength, roots overtaking buildings and vines cracking their way through brick and mortar. These are narratives at odds – man vs. nature. Are we ever to connect? Especially here in New York City, in a city of millions, how can we coexist?
I’m from Los Angeles. I’m familiar with an image of the Wild Wild West that goes for miles. I’m used to urban sprawl – buildings crawling like a system of roots sinking into manifest destiny’s open spaces. New York City, however, works differently. What can’t go out – must go UP! Instead of urban sprawl, we have the skyscraper. Metal like shooting sunflowers, straight up into the sky reaching for the sun. Thanks to the industrial era, we have buildings, buildings, everywhere! Where could we possibly plant a garden? Inspired by nature, and transformed by the chic creativity and spiritual need of city slickers hungry for green - Voila! The Green Wall rises as an architectural and design innovation with health benefits that go beyond the individual.
Sources dispute the creator of the green wall. Recent scholarship says “the vertical garden was invented by Professor Stanley Hart White at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1938," but most of the credit goes to the modern innovator of the green wall, French botanist and ecological engineer Patrick Blanc. His green hair and foliage inspired fashion sense seem to showcase his love for the natural world! Inspired by plants growning on vertical surfaces in the wild (ie. limestone cliffs), Blanc envisioned and created his first green wall in 1988 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Paris. He is still working on creating his gorgeous architectural living walls, and his most recent work was completed in 2011 in Singapore.
Like all pretty cool and awesome things, now everyone wants one. From restaurants to private homes, adding some foliage to your indoor space is now being considered a chic and green thing to do. With a growing industry for DIY green walls, many designers and lay people are creating their own green walls in their living spaces. Wooly Pocket and Florafelt make it easy to take a wall in your (well-lit!) studio apartment, and convert it into your own secret garden.
Not to brag – but we have one right here at Studio 26. That’s right! Our very own plant wall constructed from scratch by Studio 26 co-owner Jared Kaplan, and his amazing friends Michael Smith, who helped with the watering system design and installation, and Kenneth Nilson, who assisted with the custom stainless steel water trough design, fabrication and installation. Our wall is made up of plants carefully chosen for their air-filtration: spathyllum (peace lily), pothos, ivy, and three types of fern, planted by the many Studio 26 community members who came out to our potting party! This greenery helps everyone in our Studio breathe easier and cleaner air, keep cool, and maintain a sense of peace and balance. Studio 26 prides itself on being an eco-friendly fitness + wellness center, and our carefully nurtured and lovingly tended plant wall is part of our vision as a green space that is healthy for the individual body and healthy for the planet as a whole.
I think plants are the wisest living beings on the planet, and I fill my little one bedroom in Queens with their example of steady, patient growth. It is only apt that Studio 26 dedicate a whole wall to life that provides the stunning example that with some sunlight and hydration, the intention of giving to others (plants breathe in toxins and breathe out clean oxygen for us!), some effort to make roots, and the resiliency and patience to grow a little bit day by day, we are training and restoring ourselves to a more wholesome health.
Watch the Studio 26 plant wall being made!