Right on the shore of Biscayne Bay on the approach to South Beach, near the Miami headquarters of the architectural firm, Arquitectonica, you will find two 25-story condominium towers, Bentley Bay, rise in sail-like elegance. At one end of the “yacht” is the complex’s three-story covered parking garage, where Arquitectonica designed an intriguing three-wall celebration of Florida tropics by employing Jakob Rope Systems to engineer and construct green walls with wire mesh and wire rope.

To provide an initial impact as a counterpoint to the strong horizontal lines of the towers, like stripes on sails, the architects designed a faux-bamboo effect with white-painted steel pipes arranged in random, varied and slightly off-vertical placement. The bamboo segmented joints are mimicked by the pipe braces. These pipes also double in appearance as the trunks of palms, whose fronds of real palm trees wave above the roof of the garage structure. The total effect is pleasing and unique.

Behind the “bamboo,” the green wall rises from the first level of the garage to the roof of the third level in continuous Webnet wire mesh, Jakob’s innovative response to the old chain-link fence.

With naturally climbing plants rooted at the base of the structure, the three-wall wire mesh (and a portion of the fourth wall) will provide an easily gripped grid on which the vines will rise to maturity as a literal, natural green wall through which fresh air will still breeze, but will offer an interior of subtle green shade to dampen the sometimes harsh Florida sunlight and temperature.

Jakob’s engineered choice of material was our Webnet wire mesh of 2.0mm diameter rope, fabricated of AISI 316 stainless steel. We chose to employ a diamond-shaped aperture of 180mm to provide plenty of room for the vines to mature without being pinched in the mesh, and yet provide plenty of load-bearing strength to secure the wall in place with minimal anchoring. The mesh is anchored at the first level and at every intervening level to the roof of the third level. Otherwise, the mesh is free to flex with the breeze to emphasize this living green wall.

Webnet wire mesh is available in a range of wire rope diameters, 1.0mm, 1.5mm, 2.0mm and 3.0mm and with wire mesh diamond apertures of 20mm to 180mm. Each corner of the aperture is secured by a stainless steel sleeve, sized to the chosen wire diameter, which prevents the wires from knotting or crossing over one another at intersections. This preserves and enhances the service life of the mesh and is virtually maintenance-free over its life. By contrast, chain link, which also sustains load stresses, is wrapped and kinked multiple times over the length of every wire, weakening wire integrity until it ultimately fails under the stress.

Webnet wire mesh and wire rope can be delivered in its natural, stainless steel color, or it can be black anodized or galvanized. It will also accept NCS and RAL colors. Any of the above coating and paint configurations can be specified and delivered ready to assemble. It is UV and weather resistant.

The use of green walls as exemplified by the Bentley Bay project, and particularly those engineered using Webnet, have multiple design, assembly and use benefits.

Design benefits include ease of selection of materials. One merely needs to understand the expected growth potential of the plant(s) employed in the green wall and select a rope to exceed the plants’ load-bearing potential and mesh aperture that exceeds the maximum diameter of branches. Additional structural rope can be employed to aid load-bearing and to provide flexibility limits.

Another design benefit is that while immature plants are still growing, the exposed mesh above the plant mass is virtually invisible.

Assembly is easily accomplished. Wire mesh can be attached to virtually any surface that will, itself, bear the load of the lightweight mesh and the plants growing through it. Since the
mesh is so flexible, even at the mesh intersections, it can follow the contour of architectural features with near-exacting precision. The mesh can be attached directly to building architectures of random shapes, or it can be attached to a frame that is subsequently attached to an architectural feature, or mounted as a free-standing green wall.

Use benefits are increasing with seemingly every application as architects and environmental professionals discover the properties of green walls. They increase energy efficiency by reducing severe temperature fluctuation that occurs from exterior to interior spaces. This is accomplished by trapping air of a relatively constant temperature within the plant mass, thus insulating the inner green wall. It also reduces ambient temperature by shading, evapotranspiration and, as recently discovered, by the natural process of photosynthesis. Finally, it creates a buffer against wind, while allowing the movement and cooling of gentle breezes.

The same photosynthesis improves interior air quality while the plant mass reduces noise pollution.

The green wall of Webnet wire mesh at the Bentley Bay condominium project is a design, engineering, assembly, and environmental success story.

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