Indoor living walls is a recurring theme through Biomedicum, the new laboratory building at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. Greenworks has provided 28 plantwalls on 600 square metres with more than 20 000 plants as a backdrop to causal meeting and coffee places for researchers and students in 9 storeys. As such, it’s the largest indoor living wall project in Scandinavia. Biomedicum is one of the largest laboratories in Europe and a hub for cross-disciplinary experimental research. The building, which houses some 1 700 people, won the Swedish Building of the Year Award 2019 in a tight competition among 20 nominated projects.

Living walls provides an inviting feeling on a small area with a big effect,’ according to Lotte Søborg, chief architect at C.F. Møller, ‘Our architectural vision has been a building in a park, but also to accommodate the park within the building and providing a linkage to the campus. In our aim of making the atrium really green, the living walls has been the perfect solution since we have very few other spaces for potted plants.’ The architects have provided the atrium with 43 circular skylights to provide natural light. The living walls are distributed over 9 stories and humidify the air during the colder half of the year, as well as absorbing carbon dioxide, improving the acoustics, as well as boosting wellbeing. ’Plants can clean many types of air pollutants,’ says Jens Öqvist, landscape engineer at Greenworks. ‘Botanical biofiltering is a good complement to ordinary ventilation when the goal is to attain as clean air as possible indoors. Ordinary indoor spaces, not laboratory environment as Biomedicum could theoretically fully rely on plants to clean the indoor air.’

The living walls amount up to 600 square metres of wall space orientated towards the inner atrium. Some 30 different plants species are used, and each living wall has a unique character. All plants are non-spore species because of the sensitive laboratory requirements.

In contrast to the hotly debated New Karolinska next door, Biomedicum has not only been delivered in time, but has also been finished more than 350 million SEK less than budgeted. Users, architects, clients, and builders has opted to let the outdoor campus park enter the building with plants and wood as a recurring theme, instead of the usual labs in glass and steel. The skylight atrium contains even trees at the ground level, with walls in light ash and a terrazzo floor as a contrast. The living walls are part of the colour scheme, and they contribute to a building which Karin Dahl man-Wright, vice-president of Karolinska Institutet, claims will work as a platform for cross-disciplinary research. ‘Plants provides for better air when they clean pollutants and improve air humidity,’ Lotte Søborg adds, ‘They represent something soft and tactile in laboratory areas that usually are quite sterile.’

C.F Møller has a series of upcoming hospital projects, among them the Emergency and Infectious Diseases Unit at MAS, Malmö, and the Aarhus University Hospital. The client, Akademiska Hus, has previously received the Building of the Year award for Aula Medica next door. The builder, Skanska, started the 2 billion SEK project the fall of 2013. The construction of the gross floor space of 65,000 square meters was completed spring 2018.

Greenworks has previously installed 3 living walls in the lobby of Sollentuna Hospital in collaboration with Ambius. The next hospital environment will be a 120 square meters large green wall at Universitetssjukhuset Örebro, starting in the early fall of 2019.