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Case Study: Rockwool Insulation and the Library of Birmingham

Although it has now been removed, one of the early features of the new Library of Birmingham that drew a lot of attention a couple of years ago was the "Living Wall" used as a part of the hoardings during its construction, which featured an ingenious use of Rockwool Insulation in its fabrication.

Green walls are a growing trend in many places around the world. They create a fresh, healthy look that also communicates an awareness of environmental concerns. But turning a garden vertical isn't that easy to do.

Who says greenery has to be horizontal?

Most public buildings have plants outside, either in pots or as part of the landscaped grounds. But what if plants could comprise the very walls of a building? That's just what the architects behind the new Library of Birmingham have done with the building's "green wall" facade. Their chosen solution was based on ROCKWOOL stone wool insulation.

How do you plant a vertical garden?

A growing trend in many places around the world, green walls create a fresh, healthy look that also communicates an awareness of environmental concerns. But turning a garden vertical isn't that easy to do, and the library's architects had to overcome several design challenges along the way.

First, a green wall's planting substrate has to remain stable even though it is vertical. Then, it has to provide moisture and nutrients for the plants to grow - but without allowing that moisture to seep further into the wall structure. Finally, the solution must be able to protect the plant roots from the elements.

Green walls done right

ROCKWOOL batts protect both the plants and the building. To accomplish all this, the architects who designed the library turned to Mobilane, a European leader in green wall solutions. Mobilane's main product, the LivePanel system, was developed in partnership with the ROCKWOOL Group and depends on stone wool insulation to deliver a host of benefits.

"A LivePanel facade is essentially a 3-layer solution with the planting substrate 'sandwiched' between hydrophobic ROCKWOOL batts," explains Adam Wright of the ROCKWOOL Group. Mr Wright calls stone wool insulation is "the perfect material for green wall facades" and explains that ROCKWOOL stone wool batts help prevent moisture from leaking out of the substrate, protect the plant roots and watering system from freezing, and provide the stability needed to grow plants on a vertical plane.

Leafy facade helps win recognition

The new Library of Birmingham has won widespread recognition for its striking design, including the building's leafy facades. Sean Farrell of Mobilane, who supplied the library's ROCKWOOL stone wool-enabled green wall system could hardly be more pleased. "The LivePanel system is setting new standards for design and reliability on exterior walls," he says. "The system offers designers nearly infinite aesthetic possibilities both inside and outside buildings, and it can support everything from flowers to ferns," he concludes.

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