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    PREMISE

    Our client wanted to transform this hyper modern property into something lush and overgrown, fusing its identity more closely with nature and softening the overall appearance and energy of the facility. The foliage needed to look natural, cover a huge area, and last for several years in order to make the investment worthwhile - working against that goal would be nearly constant sunshine and intense coastal winds. This project underwent a lot of evolution as it progressed in design and product choice, where pragmatic thinking helped the client secure a longer-lasting outcome.

    INTENT

    The conceptual design for this project showed heavy use of draping and dangling vines, and although the depicted plants were not real varieties, we were able to match their visual intention with available artificial plant products. The concept was based on “overgrowth” and intended to establish a sense of belonging or history within the property, showing that it had settled and become intertwined with local nature. We worked hard to preserve that concept and that spirit over the course of the project, but several challenges stood in the way of replicating their initial design.

    CHALLENGES

    The first major challenges we encountered were accounted for by the product itself - no amount of sunshine can outmatch PermaLeaf® inherently UV resistant foliage. The wind, however, proved to be a problem when accounting for the coastal air currents and occasional hurricane conditions. Hanging vines and loose plants were at great risk for detaching or being destroyed in gale-force winds, so we instead engineered a plan that used low-drag foliage elements that were fixed in place against solid stucco surfaces.

    Due to the changes in plans, the client also began to encounter budgetary constraints that were now cutting into the desired results. Fortunately, the chosen artificial Creeping Fig foliage mats use an interlocking plastic mesh that makes installation rather simple. With that in mind, the client opted to install the product themselves, in an effort to save as much as possible on costs. We were able to send attachment hardware and detailed instructions to help them along the way, resulting in a great looking project space.

    CONNECTION WITH NATURAL SYSTEMS

    As an exterior feature, this sprawling green surface helps to blend the built space with the natural surroundings both visually and conceptually. The green of the Creeping Fig foliage helps to soften the boundary into the surrounding landscape vistas featuring palm trees and sandy beaches, while the crystal-blue waters of the pool itself connect with the infinite ocean view. 

    COMPLEXITY AND ORDER

    The premise of this project as a whole was to reduce the harshness of the hard lines within the architecture of the exterior. Built on right angles with stucco, glass and steel, the property had a reigning theme of orthogonal geometry and modern lines, which at times caused it to feel hollow and soulless. The biophilic principle of complexity and order is at play here, as the addition of the green walls brings organic complexity to an incredibly orderly environment. The randomness and multitude of the Creeping Fig fronds help to offset the expansive blank faces of the stucco structure, resulting in a much more balanced overall composition.

    REFUGE

    Before the green wall project, this pool deck area was made of hard white walls and wooden decking, creating a rather spartan atmosphere that did not carry the feeling of relaxation. After the addition of the foliage and green walls, however, the space became visually enclosed by the much darker color and began to feel more private, more tropical, and more like a private sanctuary. On top of this, irritating echoes that were previously caused by the hard enclosing walls have been dulled and dispersed by the dense layer of artificial foliage.

    CONCLUSION

    Through the applied use of greenery as a wall cladding, we were able to transform a no-frills pool deck into a private sanctuary that exists in harmony with the breathtaking Florida coastline. Though circumstances mandated an evolution of the initial concept, the resulting space follows the same intent and reaches the same goal of creating a lush exterior space that balances the hard lines of the architecture with the subtle organic grace of artificial foliage.

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