January 21, 2011
DIRTT, the modular wall company with the cleverest name, Doing It Right This Time, is introducing a decidedly clever feature, Breathe. This interior plantscapes system allows designers to bring nature indoors to both beautify and detoxify spaces.
Using the principles of biophilia--the science that recognizes the innate connection between nature and human response--Breathe introduces a beautiful aesthetic and the healing powers of plants to interiors by improving indoor air quality and promoting occupant wellbeing.
The Breathe module, according to the company, can be mounted to a DIRTT wall surface, retrofitted on existing DIRTT walls, or attached to any flat vertical surface including gypsum, stone, concrete, etc. The module is designed to take three sizes of plant pot, 6 x 6”, 3 x 6” and 3 x 3”, which integrate into a modular slat wall system.
There's very little that's less appealing than dead plants and many of us have trouble keeping the office ficus tree alive. So how does this work?
DIRTT insists that Breathe is designed to eliminate plumbing problems and reduce complexity for occupants. Larger installations use a portable irrigation system, such as a WaterBoy, to fill the horizontal troughs beneath the plant pots and will likely require plant professionals for care and maintenance. Smaller systems can be filled with a hose attached to a tap, or with a watering can and are simple enough that any occupant could plant and care for the plantscape.
In either case there is only one fill point for a wall of plants, at the top. Water travels along the troughs where it is wicked up into individual plant pots by a “sipper” mechanism that promotes capillary action. At the bottom of the wall any remaining excess water is captured, hence no water wastage and no mess and fuss DIRTT insists.
There's actually no dirt in Breathe, but rather a professional, general purpose growing medium. The type of plants used in a living wall are dependent on a number of factors: light levels, plant availability, design factors (color, height, growing habit), and the decision to select plant species for their ability to remove VOCs. Yes, they do that. The Green Plants for Green Buildings website maintains a list of plants known to remove VOCs and other pollutants.
In the right light and with regular watering and care, DIRTT claims plants can last at least five years before they need to be replaced. Still skeptical?
DIRTT will be building its own test Breathe walls and visitors to its Green Learning Center in Chicago will be able to view the wall there in April 2011. Integration of Breathe components into ICE software will be finished by May 2011. Clients wishing to specify Breathe will be notified by their DIRTT Rep as to its availability.