Giant ‘Living Wall’ with 5,500 plants installed at Engineering Research Institute

A new ‘living wall’ of plants and flowers, which will improve the building’s energy efficiency and provide a home for wildlife, has been installed on the Institute for Innovative Materials, Processing and Numerical Technologies (IMPACT), which is based at the University's Bay Campus.

The specially designed hydroponic system has been created to bring a new level of sustainability to the almost complete IMPACT building, through intelligent water management and stable system dynamics.

The living wall (or ‘green wall’) is situated on the northern elevation of the building to give a dramatic approach to the campus upon arrival.  It features approximately 5,500 plants including Hedera helix ‘Green Wonder’, Heuchera ‘Fire Chief’ and Euonymus fortunei ‘Dart’s Blanket’.

400 x 533Ben Sampson, Swansea University Biodiversity Officer, said:

“As well as being a striking approach to campus, the living wall will improve the building’s energy efficiency and provide a home for wildlife. 

Pollinating insects have been declining at an alarming rate in recent years. 

Swansea University was the first official Bee Friendly university in Wales and this continues the great work that we have been doing to make a difference.

With Crymlyn Burrows Site of Special Scientific Interest next door, we had to be especially careful to select plants that wouldn’t invade the dunes and cause problems in the natural environment too.”

More about how Swansea University promotes sustainability

Living walls are typically designed to transform urban landscapes and the wall at IMPACT, designed and installed by Biotecture, has been created to offer a flexible, modular system that brings continuous interest through varying leaf patterns and colours. 

Richard Sabin, Managing Director of Biotecture, said:

“The IMPACT living wall at Swansea University is the first large-scale, external wall Biotecture has installed in Wales and Biotecture are pleased to be involved in the sustainability of this building,”

“The living wall we’ve designed and installed is approximately 114 metres square and contains several pollinator-friendly plant species such as the Heucheras ‘Palace Purple’ and ‘Fire Chief’, as well as Armeria maritima ‘Thrift’ and Origanum vulgare. 

The wall also has a northerly aspect and is close to the shoreline, so some hardy and robust, evergreen plants are included to give year-round texture and form to the living wall.” 

The IMPACT building, part of the College of Engineering, is set to officially launch over the winter months and will provide industry with opportunities for colocation in collaborative projects to develop novel materials, products and processes that can be used across the local and global engineering sector. 

It is part-funded by Swansea University, with £17.4 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Government. 

Find out about IMPACT

Picture: Living Wall close-up

Living Wall close-up - IMPACT building