A Canadian invention that improves indoor air quality has hit a major milestone. Living Walls are visually appealing, they make the air smell great, peoples spirits are raised by them, all while they act as a biofilter, removing toxins from the air. The effective method of a vertical tropical garden is turning ten years old since its first installation. The walls have been adorning office, academic, commercial and civic buildings for a decade now, creating a healthy indoor environment with a low carbon footprint.

Living Wall at Corus Quay, Toronto, Dianmond Schmitt, image by Richard JohnsonLiving Wall at Corus Quay, Toronto, image by Richard Johnson

The Living Wall was developed by Dr. Alan Darlington who was studying air purification for extraterrestrial bases on behalf of the Canadian and European Space agencies. It was quickly obvious that the results of his research would have great benefits down here on earth too, and Nedlaw Living Walls were bornThe walls were commercially introduced by Diamond Schmitt Architects at the University of Guelph Humber campus in Etobicoke. “We were looking for a way to feature biofiltration research undertaken by the University of Guelph for their Humber academic building a decade ago,” said Donald Schmitt, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects.

Since the first installation, the Nedlaw Living Wall has made its way to cities across North America. Other walls are featured at Toronto's Corus Quay, Scarborough's Centennial College Library, Cambridge Ontario's City Hall, and Burlington's Royal Botanical Gardens. At Drexel University in Philadelphia, the science behind their living wall has spawned a course.

Typical walls are between two and four storeys high and are integrated into the design of the building. Even from the front door, the smell of the tropical plants fill the atriums, drawing people to the walls. The attractive green space becomes a visual focal point of a building's atrium, and delivers many health benefits throughout the building.

"Bringing significant plant life indoors has universal appeal and appears to resonate with people on a primal level, hence the psychological benefit" said Birgit Siber, Principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects. Research shows the Living Wall can cleanse indoor air of carbon monoxide, moulds and bacteria, and Volatile Organ Compounds (VOCs) from microorganisms in the plant roots. Because the Living Wall is connected to the building's HVAC system, the treated air is humidified and 80% of contaminates are removed.

Living Wall at University Of Guelph Humber, Etobicoke, Diamond SchmittLiving Wall at University Of Guelph Humber, image by Steven Evans

The largest installation to date is a six-storey living wall at the University of Ottawa’s Vanier Hall. A Diamond Schmitt-designed office building and hotel under construction in Downtown Buffalo, New York will also include a four-storey living wall. Thanks to Dr. Alan Darlington, this effective green method keeps buildings toxin-free and remarkably appealing. Diamond-Schmitt continues to explore this effective biofilter for their projects across North America.

Check out Diamond Schmitt's full press release about the first decade anniversary of the first Living Wall.