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Why Incorporate Moss Walls into Architecture

Why Incorporate Moss Walls into Architecture

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors. Spending that much time inside makes us feel disconnected from the outside world, affecting everything from our productivity to mental health. Not to mention physical health concerns ranging from poor circulation to airborne contaminants.

One method of rebuilding our connection to nature is by using living elements. Live moss wellness walls utilize one of our oldest plant species to improve the visual appearance of any interior environment and boost your overall well-being.  

During the 1980s, American biologist Edward O. Wilson popularized the term “biophilia” in relation to how we innately seek connections with nature. Biophilic design emphasizes the way elements connect and interact with each other in ways that stimulate our productivity and well-being. Creating such an environment requires more than increasing natural lighting or sticking a plant in a corner.

Enter moss. 

Vía Wikimedia Commons / User W.carter, Licensed under CC-BY 4.0
Vía Wikimedia Commons / User W.carter, Licensed under CC-BY 4.0

One of our oldest and most resilient plant species, with nearly 15,000 varieties, moss lacks roots, requiring it to seek all of its nutrients from the air. It grows on virtually any surface. It can survive in a dormant state for years and revive when exposed to moisture. It helps stabilize the ground and is used to prevent flooding and soil erosion. In traditional Japanese gardens, moss creates serene, tranquil spaces.

The four requirements for moss are acidic soil, shading, moisture and humidity. They like soil between about 5 and 6 on the pH scale. [1]

In an indoor environment, a live moss wall is ideal for adding healthy green space. Like other forms of living walls, they create a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere and a pleasant smell to any entrance, foyer, or office. They have been shown to reduce stress, elevate moods, and improve concentration and other cognitive functions. In healthcare settings, living walls have been shown to lower patient anxiety and stimulate pleasure receptors in the brain, aiding patient recovery. 

© AEC Daily
© AEC Daily

But the health benefits go beyond comfort. Moss provides an additional air filtration system, taking in pollutants while producing oxygen. Manufacturer research conducted in 2018 showed that three days after the installation of a moss wall, the level of carbon dioxide decreased by 225 percent. The moss also produces negative ions, the positive effects of which are currently being studied in numerous research papers. 

© AEC Daily
© AEC Daily

Moss offers a cheaper alternative to other forms of living walls. Unlike traditional types, moss walls do not require costly ongoing maintenance, regular plant replacement, or pesticides. Its cost-effectiveness may stimulate conversations about other green building designs and technologies. 

Vía Torange, Licensed under CC-BY 4.0
Vía Torange, Licensed under CC-BY 4.0

Learn more about this topic in AEC Daily's online courses, in association with Moss Walls - Live Eco-Systems. The course will describe the philosophies behind moss walls, including a discussion of biophilic design. Learn how these installations can contribute to earning LEED and WELL credits. Components of a self-contained moss wall are outlined, as well as care instructions, and suggestions on incorporating lighting and water features.

[1] Finding Out About Moss by Amy Miller, EPA Blog.

About this author
Cite: AEC Daily. "Why Incorporate Moss Walls into Architecture" 19 Oct 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/926367/why-incorporate-moss-walls-into-architecture/> ISSN 0719-8884
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