Urban Greening

vertical landscapes - podium planting

Mark Laurence is a UK pioneer in the living wall industry, having set up two living wall companies and developed hydroponic panels systems, now in use world-wide. He has worked on living walls indoors and out in USA, Norway, Iceland, Europe and UAE, all in the most challenging environments.

Mark's interest in vertical greening emerged in early 2000's, when conducting a sustainable landscape feasibility study for the London School of Economics. As a result, he concieved of, and co-founded Biotecture, the UK's leading living wall company. He went on to run Vertology, where he developed some unique projects for dealing with air purification (for Bane NOR, Norway's railway managers) and bespoke living wall systems. Since 2020, post Covid, he has reverted to a design and consultancy role.

Why Vertical Greening?

cleaner air and biophilia

Living walls and Facades

In urban spaces, there is often insufficient room to grow trees, not just above ground, but below ground too. Green biomass is vital to the air quality and health of a city, yet is often concentrated in parks and larger streets. A living wall requires little to no footprint and no root space. It works well in the urban canyon, cleaning air of particulates as the wind blows through the foliage.

Mark has worked on numerous air quality projects, including the iconic living wall at Edgware Road tube station, London. This wall was set up and monitored specifically to measure the ability of plants to capture pollution particulates, specifically pm10. Mark selected the plants, designed the planting and of course, it used the Biotecture Biowall hydroponic panel system. In the UAE, he has set up and run several exterior wall plant trials, some of which are still existant.

Mark consults on projects relating to urban vertical greening and podium planting internationally.

Planting designed to maximize air particulates capture

Planting designed to maximize air particulate capture. Edgeware Road (Biotecture)

tree surveying in Abu Dhabi

Vertical planting can closely interact with other natural elements (Vertology)

Services Offered

relating to urban green infrastructure

Vertical Systems Design

  • Living walls systems advice/selection

  • Living wall planting design, indoors and out

  • Climbing plants, green facade systems

  • Podium planting design, soil specification

  • Tree planting in and on buildings

  • Innovation and bespoke system design

  • Integration of water features and living walls

  • Urban vertical ecosystems and BNG

Vertical green street screens and benches

Vertical green street screens and benches, modular concept, recirculating tank system

Survey of ghaf tree for ecology

Passive air filtration prototype unit, Bane NOR, Oslo, Nationaltheatret Underground station

Vertical wetlands design

Vertical wetlands design proposal using gravel biofiltration priniciples

aquatic emergent plants design

Planting consists of woodland/shade plants plus aquatic emergent plants

Urban Ecosystems

biodiversity net gain

Enhancing Biodiversity

Living walls can bring urban greening, biophilia and especially biodiversity to densly built up areas where it would otherwise be impossible. This is especially important in view of the requirements for Biodiversity Net Gain.

Many walls designed by MLD have been seen to harbour many insects, birds and even bats, given the right structure. Use of native, adaptive and insect pollinator plants is important in this respect. Independant research has shown that there are more birds in urban areas that have living walls.

Butterflies and bees

Butterflies and bees benefit from the use of many nectar-rich plants, such as dwarf Buddliea.

Merodon Hoverfly on a Cistus

A Merodon Hoverfly on a Cistus in a vertical shrub wall.

vertical shrub wall for ecology

Systems designed to accomodate smaller shrubs and sub-shrubs can hugely increase small bird nesting sites and food sources.

vertical shrub wall for ecology

Planting design for a large vertical shrub wall project, UK. Shrubs were in lightweight planting medium

Trees in/on Buildings

podium planting

Getting it Right

Trees inside the building fabric, be it on a podium, in raised planters or within an atrium can be a fantastic asset, providing it is done correctly. That means matching species to the climatic conditions, rather than just arbitrary aesthetic choices. Correct planting method and medium, and irrigation are also essential.

Mark is currently involved in a number of projects in the UAE involving interior tree selection and siting.

Viewing trees in a Dutch nursery

Viewing trees (Bucida buceras) for a project in a Dutch nursery.

A section of interior podium planting

A section of interior podium planting, including mature tree selection.

A Sample of Previous Projects

living walls from around the world

Vertical Greening in Extreme Climates

I have worked in a range of climates, from Sub-Arctic (Greenland, Norway), arid climates (the UAE) and continental climates (Chicago), which can be both very hot and very cold. I have designed the (possibly) most Notherly outdoor green wall in Trondheim, Norway, at 62° latitude, whilst external lving walls in the UAE have to cope with temperatures which may reach 50°C.

On this page are just a few pictures of projects Mark has designed.

Living walls in a Shopping Mall, Hamar, Norway

Living walls rise two floors by escalators in a Shopping Mall, Hamar, Norway

Living walls in a Shopping Mall, Hamar, Norway

Living walls rise two floors by escalators in a Shopping Mall, Hamar, Norway

Exterior living wall Palm Jumeirah, Dubai

Exterior living wall to private villa, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai

Survey of ghaf tree for ecology

A five storey atrium indoor wall at Tronheim University, Norway

I would be very happy to discuss your project by phone, email or Zoom/Teams.

Site visits are charged as consultancy and cost reflects distance. Contact details are on Home page.

mark laurence design ltd | adaptive landscapes for a changing world

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