The lush living wall that adorns the facade at the corner of Drottninggatan / Mäster Samuelsgatan just next to Sergels Torg gives life to a dull urban environment in the midst of Stockholm. Three years after the inauguration, the vertical garden serves as a portal to Drottninggatan, Sweden’s most visited commercial street. When Greenworks, by the property owner Vasakronan and the architects at Nyréns, was commissioned to erect the 70 square meter green lush façade lot, with 2,500 plants of some forty varieties, it was fully in line with Stockholm City’s goal to strengthen the green structure and biodiversity.
”This time the maintenance procedure is a little faster, we can do it in 6 hours,” says Jens Öqvist, landscape engineer at Greenworks who equipped with secateurs, staple gun, scissors, headlamp and protective harness slides up almost 30 meters to be able to prune and remove old flowers and plants.
The rest of the team is waiting down the street where the shops just closed. Everyone takes turns sliding up to vertically growing lilac, purple coneflower, hydrangea, dwarf birch and many other plants whose root systems spread in the greenwork’s facade-mounted plant cloth. But again, it is Jens who finds bird nests. Although it is hardly a peregrine falcon, probably a smaller species, perhaps a goldcrest? Before the winter, Jens is considering planting some thirty new plants.
– We brushed on some moss this spring and it has got along well between dwarf birch, lilac and alum root, in some places the plant canvas is completely covered so that we get a completely green background to the plant splendor. My main task, besides cropping and replacing some plants, is to do a general analysis and see how the vertical garden develops over time. The goal is for it to manage itself with as little maintenance as possible.
Regardless of whether the plant walls are located inside or outside on the facade, they neutralize air pollutants, binds carbon dioxide, dampen noise and give a smoother light distribution. Outdoors, plant facades also help create green corridors in the city which is important for biodiversity, as well as insulate against heat in the summer and cool in the winter. Instead of applying potted plant walls, Greenworks works with a plant tex
tile where the plants’ root systems have the freedom to spread and produce a lush greenery. The irrigation system that Jens Öqvist controls is obviously completely closed without contact with the facade and the plant wall is connected with moisture sensors and a remote control system.
– We already have mountain-pine and common polypody up here, now we want more plants that are nice even in the winter, says Jens when he raises garbage bags full of leaves. Bergenia is a perennial that thrives here, and so we have mat-forming himalayan bistort that contribute with pink flowers and dark red leaves in winter. I note that bearberry cotoneaster have grown more than we expected, forming meter-long branches in just a year that hangs elegantly along the living wall.
When Vasakronan, in close collaboration with the architects at Nyréns, wanted to popularize the Klara Zenit block, the ambition was to rebuild the corner house as little as possible. At the same time they wanted to draw attention to the neighborhood’s stores with, among others, H&M, Clas Ohlson and KappAhl. The vertical garden has proved to be a lucky hit: the people that pass by stop instead of rushing on, and this creates another public place in the middle of Stockholm.
– At Vasakronan, we try to be at the forefront when it comes to thinking sustainable, insures Sofia Larsson, buyer at Vasakronan. We want more flowers and bees in the urban environment!
Nightfall settles over Stockholm city when Jens again slides up against the plant wall that shifts in dark and light colors. He is pleased to note that the moss is doing as intended. On the roofs across the street there are several beehives and Jens is thinking about how he can make the garden even more attractive to various pollinators.
– The lavender variety ’Munstead’ is a variant of lavender that is thriving in our climate and which is also the pollinator’s favorite that blooms almost all summer. We also plant juniper from the Himalayas with a blue tone that gives an interesting expression all year round. And also, we have Euonymus alatus, one of our finest autumn shrubs with bright pink-red colors. Here at the top of the corner we have another spindle bush species, wintercreeper euonymus, an evergreen shrub with green-yellow and green-white leaves.
The vertical garden in the corner Drottninggatan / Mäster Samuelsgatan was created by Greenworks on behalf of Nyréns architects and the property owner Vasakronan. When completed in 2016, the plant wall was Stockholm city’s very first. Greenworks has two large living walls in progress, Mobilia in Malmö and Storgatan 1 at Östermalmstorg, which is expected to be ready for the inauguration of Östermalm’s Saluhall.