Climatic disturbances and pollution are changing urban climates, creating notable islands of hot and dry conditions. At the same time, the ongoing expansion of impermeable surfaces also results in water management problems. In order to improve the physical and mental well-being of residents, while restoring humanity to the urban environment, growing density in towns and cities must be accompanied by the creation of more green surfaces.
These various findings are behind the perfection of the Skyflor® green wall system developed by HEPIA – Haute école du paysage, d’ingénierie et d’architecture de Genève, member of HES-SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland. This patented system, marketed by the Swiss company Creabeton Matériaux, is made up of three elements: a ceramic layer with interconnected porosity, a mineral substrate and a base of ultra-high performance fibre-reinforced concrete (UHPFRC).
Natural air conditioning
Skyflor® enables vertical surfaces in urban spaces to be sown with any kind of plant that can thrive in this particular situation. As well as the aesthetic improvement offered by a green wall of this kind, the system also improves the quality of urban life. For example, it enables plants to grow on streets that do not have enough space for them to take root in the ground.
Green facades also add life and colour, revamping grey urban surfaces. They also reinforce biodiversity and have the role of natural air conditioning. Against a background of climate change raising temperatures in towns and cities, Skyflor® improves urban microclimates by keeping streets cooler and fresher in summer. The system also reduces and absorbs noise.
Modular facade elements
This technology is a major piece in the jigsaw puzzle of the smart cities of tomorrow, especially now that people are showing an ever-increasing desire to reappropriate their towns and cities.
It also contributes to humanising the construction industry and demonstrates companies’ commitment to conservation of resources. It should be noted that all three layers of the system (concrete, substrate and ceramic layer) are extremely thin. The mounting of the prefabricated elements of the system directly on the loadbearing structure eliminates a number of stages and considerably reduces construction times. The versatile facade elements are modular in design and come in a variety of sizes.
Irrigation is simple – Skyflor® is equipped with an automatic system that requires little maintenance and only needs moderate water consumption, as it can also draw on rainwater. Various ways of recycling grey water for green-wall watering are also being explored. In brief, it is an ideal way of bringing a little of the natural world back to the towns and cities of the future.
Skyflor® is a typical example of innovation process through private and public partnerships. This green wall system comes from Mr Kaufmann’s dream (the inventor) and has been turned out into reality with the help of creative professors Daune, Perroulaz and Monge from HEPIA. Combined education and research is one of the innovation pillars of Switzerland.