In San Francisco, greenery has taken over the facade of the SafeHouse - former headquarters of Cafe Gratitude - but it’s not because the building is abandoned. Designer and building manager Zach Heineman hired botanical artist Amanda Goldberg and Brandon Pruett to collaborate on the living mural that now adorns the front of the building, located on 14th Street between Folsom and South Van Ness in the heart of the Mission District. Amid the colorful painted murals common to the neighborhood, the green masterpiece has grown to become a cherished neighborhood landmark.
We’re talking about an enormous wall of plants in California, where a severe drought has robbed residents of much-needed water for several years. With that in mind, Heineman, Pruett, and Brett Stephens of SF Landscapes, and Goldberg along with her team at Planted Design created the 1,200-square-foot living mural from 3,200 drought-tolerant plants. The mural also includes an ingenious irrigation system, design by SF Landscapes, that collects and recycles rainwater using copper gutters and a 1,350-gallon recirculating rainwater collection tank. Some 200 feet of drip irrigation help keep the plants watered in the midst of a California water shortage.
In addition to being a sustainable masterpiece of ecological engineering, the greenery decorating the SafeHouse is also quite a sight to behold. The mural was carefully planned on a grid, much like a cross-stitch pattern, with undulating channels of varied colors leading from the sidewalk to the sky. The lush living wall has also created much-needed habitat for wildlife where none existed before, inviting birds, bees, and other critters to take up residency in the greenery, and a rooftop garden extends the greenery upward.
The project interacts with the sense of smell, also. Yerba Buena, a native mint plant with little white flowers, was strategically placed over the doorway. The plant emits the aroma of mint, giving a little uplifting aromatherapy to those who enter the building. The living wall also features fescue, pine, oxalis, tansy, geraniums, and many others.
“As humans, most of us now spend 90 percent of our life surrounded by walls or commuting in a maze of concrete and metal, yet we all have an intrinsic need to connect with nature,” said Goldberg. “When we’re around plants we literally breathe easier. Planted Design’s clients also see the value of plants, whether it’s greening an indoor workspace or giving life to a community wall, like the one we just built.”
Images via Planted Design