The outside of the European Environment Agency office in Copenhagen. Photo via EEA.
A display of vertical greenery in the shape of the European continent has been added to the outside wall of the European Environment Agency's centrally located headquarters in Copenhagen to provide an example of the ways in which cities can be redesigned to enhance green spaces and biodiversity."Cities, as the home to many species, are ecosystems in their own right. They consume, transform and release material and energy. They develop, adapt and interact with other ecosystems. Unlike other ecosystems, however, cities are our primary habitat: three out of four Europeans live in urban areas," the agency wrote in announcing the project.
'Europe in Bloom'
The living façade, dubbed "Europe in bloom," was unveiled May 22 for World Biodiversity Day by the EEA, which works to coordinate European environmental monitoring efforts and integrate environmental considerations into EU and member countries' policies.
In addition to offering areas for recreation and benefits to mental and physical health, urban green spaces "filter large amounts of water after heavy rainfall and soften the effects of heat waves or other extreme events," according to the agency, whose recent assessment on urban ecosystems concluded that "with the right policies and tools, urbanization does not need to be a threat to biodiversity in cities and beyond."
5,000 Plants From 20 Species
The vertical garden, the first in Denmark, serves to insulate the building, absorbing urban noise and reduce dust, thereby improving air quality, while also offering potential habitat to birds and insects.
Such small patches of green can still be helpful for migratory birds, according to an unrelated study published last week in the journal Landscape Ecology. Researchers Stephen Matthews and Paul Rodewald from Ohio State University found that "even a small urban forest can help migrating birds... [which] used the patches of greenery to rest and refuel in the middle of their journey between winter and breeding sites," the BBC reported Friday.
The EEA's living map is made up of 5,000 plants from 20 different plant species, including purple verbena, dark green sedum and delicate sutera, all growing inside felt pockets attached to a custom-made support structure and watered by an automated system that drains to the bottom of the wall. "All annual plants, the species were chosen for their colors," the agency wrote. "Combined together, they will form a map of Europe showing the different densities of biodiversity."
More about living roofs and walls:
Grow a Living Wall
Renovation Nation: The Living Roof : Video
Living Walls go Mainstream, Hit the Homes Sections
RIP: London's First Living Wall Isn't Any More
Beautiful Short Film of Vancouver's Verdant Living Roof
The Living Walls on San Francisco's Embarcadero
11 Buildings Wrapped in Gorgeous Green and Living Walls