Living architecture is part of a broader notion of green infrastructure that also encompasses water sensitive urban design, integrated water cycle management, green streets, urban food, and the urban forest.
When combined, these elements can reduce the negative impacts of urbanisation to make our cities more liveable.
The challenges of establishing living architecture in Australia
Green roofs, walls, and facades are more common in other countries than in Australia.
In the northern hemisphere, the climate is generally cooler and they have fewer extremely hot days with rainfall distributed relatively evenly across the year.
Living architecture is particularly prevalent in Singapore. This is not only because of their tropical climate with constant temperatures and rainfall, but also due to the direct support of their government, which actively encourages and even mandates for green roofs, walls, and facades.
It is a considerably different challenge getting living architecture to successfully establish itself and remain vigorous on buildings in Australian cities.
Our climate has frequent hot days and extended periods of little or no rainfall. It is essential that these elements are designed with climate in mind.
Key considerations include plant species selection as well as careful design of the substrates and horticultural systems that support them. Irrigation is a critical consideration in Australian cities.
Perhaps due to our challenging climate, the perception of green roofs, walls and facades is that they generally won’t work; people feel it is just too hot, too windy, and the plants will die. In addition, the development industry generally perceives them as being too costly, needing too much water, and involving too much maintenance. The underlying perception is that the costs of these things outweigh the benefits.