The new studio space includes a ‘living wall’: a four metre square green facade to detoxify the studio environment. A bespoke planter has been integrated into the design of the mezzanine floor that is suspended over the main yoga studio. This will support a self-irrigating series of units that will be planted with several species of climbing plants that have specific air purification qualities.
In our highly industrialised world, we live in cities and towns where vehicle pollution is consistently exceeding national limits set by the world health organisation. In our homes and offices, we use chemicals, furniture and appliances that emit harmful gaseous substances into the atmosphere, causing ‘sick-building syndrome’. In short it is becoming increasingly difficult to find fresh air to breathe.
Through yoga we recognise the power and sacredness of the breath and therefore highly value the purity of the air we breathe. Through our practice we learn to connect to the breath on a deeper level, using pranayama to increase the capacity of our lungs and to cultivate a more consistent breathing pattern.
In 1989 NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) published a report providing interesting data on the potential use of houseplants as a tool in solving indoor air pollution problems. The report stated that during the late 1970s, buildings started to be designed to maximize energy efficiency to help alleviate spiraling energy costs. One of the design changes that improved energy efficiency included reduced fresh air exchange. Effectively the ‘sealing’ of the building.
Upon the occupation of these buildings, workers began to complain of various health problems such as itchy eyes, skin rashes, drowsiness, respiratory and sinus congestion, headaches, and other allergy-related symptoms. It was determined that the airtight sealing of buildings contributed significantly to these health problems. Similarly, synthetic building materials, office equipment and furnishings which are known to emit or “off-gas” various organic compounds, were linked to numerous health complaints. The figure below indicates the chemical compounds, their sources within the household/building and their associated harmful effects.
It is not only synthetic materials contributing to the pollution. When we exhale, we breathe out Carbon Dioxide adding to the toxic effect of the sealed indoor environment. All of these factors collectively contribute to a phenomenon called “sick building syndrome”.
After exposing a number of common house plants over a period of two years to different chemicals, NASA and the ALCA published a report indicating the effectiveness of each of the plants at removing specific compounds from the air you are breathing.
We will be using different varieties of Epipremnum and Hedera plant species in our living wall. These plants are listed in NASA’s report as being excellent air detoxifiers. A bespoke frame for the climbers is being made to give the plants the support they need to cover the facade.
We are trialing several different varieties and a couple of different species to ensure we find ones that will thrive in the studio’s unique microclimate.
The trial will use young plants to ensure the best establishment and so the facade will take time to green. We hope that people practicing yoga in the studio will enjoy watching the plants grow and benefit from the fact they are helping to improve the purity of the air they are breathing.