A Green Victory

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GreenAir’s latest plantscaping project is The Victor – a statement, six-storey apartment building, currently under construction in the heart of Browns Bay, one of Auckland’s most popular North Shore communities.

Comprising 56 apartments and eight penthouses, as well as ground-floor retail and hospitality and two levels of basement parking, The Victor is set to redefine the skyline of this village-suburb and, as such, its design needed be mindful of the impact on it would have on its immediate surroundings, as well as the living environment for its new residents.

The addition of green façades, both on the exterior and lining the inside its full-height atrium helps to visually break down the ‘mass’ of the building, and certainly softens its overall look. Also, importantly, it may well have helped sway opinion with the initial consenting process, says GreenAir’s Director, Simon Chamberlain.

“We were brought on board by The Victor’s developer at a very early stage of the design process,” says Simon. “His big vision, from the outset, was for a landmark building, with a plant-filled atrium and cascading plants draping the exterior. Our brief from him was simple… here’s the render, how do we make this happen?”

The architectural renders at the early stage of the design were simply images of greenery on walls, says Simon. “There was no structure or thought of how it would all function. As a specialist in plantscaping solutions, our role was to design, engineer and manufacture the green infrastructure that would define the exterior and interior spaces at The Victor.”

Perhaps the defining feature of this building is the incredible, full-height ‘living’ atrium that forms a pedestrian axis at ground level, and is criss-crossed by sky bridges above. Once finished, much of this space will be draped in lush foliage.

“Every detail has been taken into account with our choice of plants; the light levels, the aesthetics of what we are trying to achieve, whether it’s an ascending or descending growth, and obviously how they will perform long term.”

We have split the plants into two types – those needed in the atrium, which is a tropical, hot and humid environment, and therefore demand plants that will thrive in those conditions; and the exteriors plants, which will mostly comprise natives that we have specifically chosen to cope well in coastal-marine conditions in Browns Bay.”

In total, over 2,000 individual plants were required, 90 percent of which were propagated and grown to order at GreenAir’s greenhouse nursery in Kumeu. This process has involved a huge amount of planning and has taken eight months to complete, to ensure that all the plants are well-established and in top condition for the site before they are transported into position.

To ensure that the plants thrive in their new home, the green walls that run up through the atrium, and all the exterior green façades will all have automated irrigation and doser feeding systems that run on the hour every hour, with remote reporting on how much water is going through the system, or if any technical issues arise.

“The media that plants are sitting in is very important, too,” says Simon. “A newly developed hydro-culture media, not soil, is being used, so it is semi hydroponic, which allows us to use a system that requires a lot less water. The other advantage of media we are using is that it is very lightweight, which is an important factor when you consider the complex structures and the engineering required for large planstcapes.

“Consequently, at 60kg per square-metre, saturated, our green wall systems are undoubtedly one the lightest systems on the market. And that’s a huge advantage when it comes to designing and engineering the building itself.”

One of the outcomes of GreenAir’s involvement in The Victor is that Simon and his team have developed a number of new products that they can now offer their other clients, as part of their portfolio of plantscaping solutions.

“The green balustrading system that we developed for The Victor works in with the standard glass balustrading to produce sections of foliage that tumbles down into the atrium below,” says Simon. “We have also developed a new design of custom-built, stacked-plant wall going into the entrance to the atrium, which accommodates 500 plants, all in watertight pots, with a sub-surface irrigation system, and all incorporating our new hydro-culture media. Less structure, more plants.”

Simon expects the green balustrades, in particular, are going to be of interest to developers and designers, as they allow multiple levels of plants to be used in huge atriums, as it’s a great way of getting cascading plants and greenery into tall spaces, from level one to level eighty – the skies the limit, he says.

“It’s so refreshing to be working with developers like Victor, who are motivated and really passionate to bring green living solutions into the design of their buildings,”

Once open – expected completion the end of April – The Victor will be a living showcase of the green environments GreenAir is capable of delivering to its clients, whether they be developers, designers, or ordinary members of the public for their own homes. In the meantime, visit http://www.thevictor.co.nz

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