A necessary collaboration between architects, engineers and plant specialists 

Hassell Principal and Practice Architecture Leader, UK. Julian Gitsham, in a recent post “Buildings Need to be Curated; Collaboration With Other Fields Is Vital to an Era of Experience” made these important points;

“The world is changing and we as an industry need to change with it. In fact, we have the rare opportunity to help drive and influence this change. In responding to the disruption we should be encouraged to push beyond the traditional boundaries of architecture and design to encompass new and innovative ways to deliver exciting and unique experiences that people value, and ultimately, to create places people love”

Alistair Law, Arup façade engineer, also in a recent post observed “when greenery isn’t made central to the conceptual integrity of the design it is an easy target during value engineering to be removed, citing maintenance and cost issues as the reasons.”

To be central to the conceptual design, architects and engineers need the confidence in greenery performance and management, whatever the form of greenery; green walls, green facades, atrium gardens, workplace plantings, Indoor trees or bamboo

They can then design, and specify greenery, as an integral part of the overall design with the confidence of Stefano Boeri, (Bosco Verticale), Ken Yeang (Bioclimatic skyscrapers), and Kevin Roche/John Dinkaloo (the Ford Foundation) who have shown what’s possible.


Here’s where collaboration with a plant specialist at the design stage, can resolve the uncertainty, bringing the required depth of knowledge and experience, Identifying and addressing the issues in a systematic way to avoid poor performance and costly replacements, ensuring healthy interior landscape performance over time.

This can strengthen the resistance against “value engineering” with a greater depth of knowledge of greenery benefits for architects and engineers to defend the design integrity.

Greenery insights

To support the collaborative process, although I have presented this list of benefits in a previous post, and it is worth repeating for its powerful points.

Living green plants contribute to a better indoor environment in a number of ways.

  • Reduce concentrations of indoor air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) : they stabilise relative humidity; attract and hold particulate matter; contribute to oxygen/carbon dioxide (O2/CO2) exchange;
  • Even where low emission or no emission materials such as paints are used, plants provide ‘air polishing;’
  • Are cost effective in conjunction with air conditioning filter systems;
  • Offer flexibility of location and relocation according to needs;
  • Are environmentally sound;
  • Have aesthetic appeal to building occupants, contributing to productivity;
  • Represent a solution that could be readily developed and refined for each application;
  • Do not interfere with any existing air distribution systems or patterns in a room;
  • Professionally supplied and maintained, retain their effectiveness over time with comparatively low maintained costs;
  • Offer flexible routine maintenance, i.e. the frequency is not absolutely critical;
  • Help create an harmonious effect on staff morale, and thus increase motivation;
  • Can help form attractive and acceptable visual breaks and barriers in open plan offices;
  • Do not produce acoustic problems; and contribute to noise absorption;
  • Reduce glare and eye strain by reflecting in the yellow-green band, which is most receptive and soothing to the human eye;
  • Installation does not entail alteration to the fabric of a building;
  • Provides a means for discrete implementation of a solution to an environmental problem;
  • Entails relatively minor capital and running costs;
  • Involve only a very remote chance of a sudden breakdown or failure of operation.


This is not an exhaustive list, and there are many other generally unacknowledged benefits. Incorporating creative interior landscapes that reconnect people with green plants is the perfect area for collaboration.

As plant specialists we’re ready to collaborate with architects and engineers “to push beyond the traditional boundaries of architecture and design to encompass new and innovative ways to deliver exciting and unique experiences that people value, and ultimately, to create places people love” to quote Hassell’s Julian Gitsham.

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