[Originally posted on EcoGeek.]
Although we’ve been sceptical about the financial viability of vertical farming schemes, that doesn’t mean we are opposed to bringing more greenery into urban areas in any way, and systems that merge vegetation with buildings can be both beneficial and beautiful. We are definitely fans of green roofs.
Parabienta is a wall garden panel system that provides a growth medium to support plants and allow them to grow along vertical surfaces. Vegetated vertical panels help to reduce solar gain on walls, much the same as green roofs help reduce the heat island effect and lower temperatures on roofs. As an added benefit, Parabienta panels have also been shown to help buffer noise, particularly desirable in an urban environment. It might not grow tomatoes, but it will add some welcome green to an urban context.
Parabienta was originally developed by the Shimizu Corporation in Japan. But, while they appear to have used it on projects themselves, the company’s website has only a single brief mention of the material. Although it has been around for a few years now, it doesn’t appear to be readily available as a product for project use, though it was reported that the company was hoping to grow sales of the system (at a cost of about $80 per square foot, including installation and irrigation) to a few million dollars per year.