A Gorgeous Green Wall at Reykjavik City Hall

moss wallLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

The recorded guide to Iceland on the bus noted that Iceland was really a misnomer, that the country should really be called Waterland, since there was very little ice outside of the big glaciers, but there was water everywhere. I feel like I have green moss growing on me after four days of hiking the Laugavegurinn trail there. In most buildings in Iceland, they fight the elements by covering buildings in impenetrable iron and steel cladding; in Reykjavik's City Hall, designed by Icelandic architects Studio Granda, they celebrate it with this lovely, mossy green wall.

City HallLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0
Designed in 1987 after the firm won an international competition, the building is still controversial, with some saying that it doesn't fit into the historic core of Reykjavik, but it is impressive as you walk into town for the first time.

moss wall closeup© Alex Klotz

The moss wall softens the look of the building. It is made from porous volcanic rock, constantly wetted with water pumped from the pond. Given the climate, that is probably all they have to do.

moss wallLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I stated before that there are two kinds of living green walls, Le Mur Végétal as designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc, and the Green Façades of Edouard Francois, where the plants have roots in the ground and do not need so much technology.

wall in distanceLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Studio Granda shows us a third option: Take a substrate that is local and appropriate (the volcanic rock), plant material that grows everywhere in the country (moss) and simply add water. Nicely done.

green wall endLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

A Gorgeous Green Wall at Reykjavik City Hall
A different kind of green wall made of moss and rock

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