The purpose of this paper is to investigate the differences between, and the importance
and benefits of, green façades and living walls – both commonly referred to as ‘green’
walls in urban areas. The paper briefly describes the history of the greening of walls
over the past 100 years, and the nature of a vertical habitat for plants is discussed.
Some examples of green façades and living walls are presented but, as a case
study, specific focus is placed on the living wall at the University of Pretoria’s (UP’s)
Department of Plant Sciences, where an experimental habitat primarily for succulent
indigenous cremnophytes has been established. The design, construction, plant-species
selection and performance over the past two years of this project are investigated and
presented in detail. The research finds that the differences between green façades and
living walls are not merely semantic, but that there are essential differences in terms
of wall construction, planting methods and appropriate plant species. The value of the
research lies in the fact that the often arbitrary and confusing use of the term ‘green’
wall, which may refer to green façades or living walls, is clarified, and an understanding
is shown of the challenges of recreating a cremnophyte habitat; one of the rarest and
least-researched plant habitats.