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Greening Large Structures (Metal)

Metal construction is ubiquitous in the architectural style of the modern age. This applies not only to structural load-bearing elements like supports, beams etc., but also to arbours, pergolas, staircases, and facades that can be made entirely of metal beams, grids. These generally sleek architectural elements, often with a natural grid or weave, can easily accommodate climbing plants. Architects are even trending towards planning these additional metal faces only for greening! Read on for some history and examples. You can find similar photo examples under balconiescar parking lots/garages, and high greening.

Military barracks grown over by a Virginia Creeper

The Beginning...

High trellis constructions have been used in agriculture for centuries to cultivate beer hops. Perhaps this gave rise to the idea of installing such trellis walls as a component of architecture. The 'MFO-Park' in Örlikon / Switzerland was the impetus for such projects: after the demolition of an old machine factory, there was a plan to transform the area into a recreational park. The contours of the old factory buildings were rebuilt with a steel frame and planted climbing plants. The plants were meant to take over the metal lattices and transform the empty, airy zones into a green jungle. The project receives attention to this day and has served as a model for many architects.

Tips for Planning

With large metal structures already in place, it will be easy to create green walls using simple metal nets or cable systems with parts available from FassadenGrün. Very high climbing walls work best in (wind-protected) inner courtyards, because there the plants thrive better and are sheltered. The chosen location is particularly important. For the planning of this kind of massive construction, it is best to seek the advice of the structural engineer at an early stage in the planning. A number of specialists in the field of greening may be able to offer you their products and advice-- the big manufacturers of metal lattices or the wire-cable factories (see suppliers) can recommend modules that may reduce costs. Consider providing an irrigation system if the plants will stay in pots or containers.

Climbing plants (Dutchman's Pipe) in the "MFO-park" in Örlikon / Switzerland
Climbing plants (Dutchman's Pipe) in the "MFO-Park" in Örlikon / Switzerland
Pergola with twiners, industrial building in Leipzig /Saxony
Pergola with twiners, industrial building in Leipzig /Saxony

Photo Gallery

Enter this gallery to see examples of greening high walls. Please click on the photos! See more pictures under Balconies, Parking Garages, and High Greening.

Climbing plant system for hops cultivation
Temporary lattice construction from scaffolding poles as trellis support for hops; student project, Weimar/Thuringia
Curved wall trellisedwith horizontal steel yoke and vertical ropes as a boundary for an open-space round-about, Leipzig/Saxony
Dutchman's Pipe on vertical wire ropes in the vestibule of a modern residential building
Twiners on vertical ropes with horizontal bar lattices, bank in Anklam/Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Trellised wall with twiners (wisteria) as a continuation of an interrupted building concourse, faculty of Humanities, the University of Leipzig/Saxony
Trellised wall with bittersweet, Faculty of Humanities building- University of Leipzig/Saxony
Trellised facade moved forward (off set) on insulation on the side of the facade and with Dutchman's Pipe, Erfurt Center /Thuringia
Walkways/arbours greened with wild-growing vine, University Clinical Complex, Leipzig/Saxony
Stairs and arcades greened with Dutchman's pipe, Housing Department in Leipzig-Probstheida / Saxony
Arbour-walkways greened with wisteria and mini-kiwi, Housing Department in Leipzig-Probstheida/Saxony
Greening of the walkways/balustrades in the inner courtyard of an industrial housing complex; (without the plants, one might think it to be a correctional facility.) Old spinning mill, Leipzig/Saxony
Residential complex with outside corridors. These arcades with their balustrades and lattices serve as climbing walls for ivy and other plants. Constance / Baden-Wuerttemberg
Forward-set-climbing wall made of steel cable nets with wild shoots and vines (Vitis coignetiae), storehouse St. Benno Publishing House Leipzig/Saxony
Wild shoots and vines on wire nets, detail to the previous photo
A façade greening with evergreen honeysuckle
Climbing system consisting of vertical wire ropes on an emergency stairway, thicket creeper
Trellis construction with Dutchman's Pipe made of cable in an inner courtyard, Dresden / Saxony