An existing, multifamily housing building has been converted into an office building to house the new headquarters of the Foundation of Polish Science in Warsaw. The integrating tool to connect the building to its green context is the successful application of the external vertical garden onto both front and side elevations. It is the only external vertical garden in Poland and in this part of Europe.
The green face of the building blurs the boundaries between architecture & nature. The leafy vertical garden, softening the building edges, is contrasted with the smoothness of surfaces finished with light grey concrete panels. The green wall, naturally three-dimensional, is enriching the elevation with its depth. This three-dimensional effect is constantly changing over time. Due to the natural vegetation of the plants and the cycles of the year the face of the building will also be constantly changing. The vertical garden, taking into account its geographic location, is treated as experimental. During the course of its exploitation, the bio-diversity of the wall may change due to the seeds brought by birds or wind.
Within the vertical garden 20 different species of plants have been included. Some of them are to create a green background all year, while others will bloom during the warmer seasons. The plants with the decorative red fruits will add a color accent also during the winter seasons. Since the placement of the plants was consulted with the architects, the manifestation of a geometric pattern should reveal itself at the end of the third year of the vegetation cycle.
The plants are supplied with water and necessary nutrients by a special irrigation system supported with a set of sensors located onto the surface of the panels. Based on the information collected the wall is automatically irrigated and fertilized. This process is controlled in real time and can be steered on-line.
A unique mat – made of a material structure similar to that of mineral wool – is the base for the modules of the green wall. In this case, the mat is the supplement of the soil responsible for giving the plants the appropriate support. It also protects the roots of the plants from exposure to the changing and harsh weather conditions, which is essential in the climatic region in which the green wall has been installed. The lightweight modules are mounted to the steel substructure which makes the maintenance of the vertical garden system a relatively easy task. The plants ale placed in the specially designed pockets which helps to exchange them if necessary.
The green wall is one of the elements which creates the pro-ecological identity of the building. It helps to improve the energy balance and creates a beneficial microclimate inside the building. The biologically active surface, supporting the retention of the rain water, covers almost 67% of the given site. Together with the vertical garden, the green area covers 82% of the surface of the given site. The rain water collected from the roof and pavements is directed into the underground retention basin. The rain water is then used to water the green elevation. This solution helps to reduce to an absolute minimum the amount of the grey water dumped into the municipal rain network.