Living Wall At RISD Nature Lab

Seen here is phase one of the new biodesign maker space located in the Wet Lab downstairs at the RISD Nature Lab. This 21′ living wall is a lush, vertical bed of plant material so inviting you want to sink into it somehow. (Detail below.) There is a framework of plumbing hidden behind this green tapestry, with water being pumped up and around and back down into a handsome metal gutter. The burbling sound is most pleasant. This installation would be perfect for the lobby of a corporate headquarters, a hospital waiting room, a school, or my apartment. The biophilia page of their website speaks to advantages of these green walls.

Living plants integrated with the interior walls of building are not only beautiful but also provide such natural benefits as moderating humidity, improving air quality, promoting energy savings and generally enhancing the well-being of people who live or work in these spaces. Although this rapidly emerging technology has garnered considerable interest, green walls have been slow to be widely implemented in the US. To support further research into the potential of these natural solutions, the Nature Lab is planning a pilot installation that enables students to explore the principles of vertical gardens and related technologies such as green roof systems.

A sign informs visitors that this was made possible through a $280,000 grant from the National Science Foundation EAGER, or EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research.

The space will provide an immersive environment for students to engage in hands-on design projects that cultivate a working knowledge of biology and natural systems.

Two studio courses are coming up in the winter and spring sessions where students will brainstorm and create construction-ready designs for next summer’s installation, which, according to Stuart, the enthusiastic grad student who spoke with me, will include lighting. Can’t wait.

Real world: Next fall, Paul Sproll — head of RISD’s Teaching + Learning in Art + Design (TLAD) Department — will lead grad level TLAD students in using the lab to develop K-12 curricula focused on biodesign and real world problems.

If you go: This unique facility is open to the public but they keep the entrance to the building locked. Walk up the front steps to the door, look for the phone number next to the keypad, call and ask to be let in. The building is on Waterman between Benefit and North Main Streets, across from the First Baptist Meeting House.

Students are often at the tables working or having a small class, but it is okay to go in. Just don’t make noise and get in the way.

Edna Lawrence Nature Lab, RISD, 13 Waterman Street, (directions)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Providence Daily Dose