This week as summer finally arrives we are starting to see the first flowers on our demonstrator of a new living façade concept we’ve been developing over the last six months. Plants are grown from seed and despite a cold start are finally starting to thrive. Every day plants are getting bigger and bigger which is a good metaphor for our business this year!
I’ve been reflecting on a Forbes thought piece describing the constant balance when growing a company between persistence and pivoting – on the one hand persevering with an idea, tinkering, improving, battling on through failure and rejection, and on the other hand changing tack and re-focusing towards new things in light of fresh information.
The mission of Vertical Meadow has always been to bring more biodiversity into cities by making living wall products that were more cost-effective, construction and environmentally-friendly than alternatives. One of the key innovations was growing plants from seed in-situ – removing the energy input, cost and logistical challenges associated with growing plants off-site in greenhouses and transporting them to the final location of a wall. We also hope it reconnects people with nature as they watch the plants grow and change with the seasons.
Before Vertical Meadow was spun out of Arup, we started with a permanent living wall product for building facades, ultimately the big vision. But in light of challenges around procurement and market timing ultimately not being right, we pivoted towards our temporary system.
It’s a similar idea but made from fabric rather than metal, and designed to be in place for just 6-24 months in applications like construction site hoardings and scaffolding and so a ‘smaller bet’ for customers. That’s been going really well, with the first few projects delivered and lots more to come, and has provided the time to perfect the reliability of the irrigation system and sketch out a number of improvements that address customer concerns we originally received on the permanent system.
So here we are now, continuing to develop the temporary product, and revisiting the permanent product, with a new version that will be more cost-effective, flexible and reliable, and at a time when interest in living walls and urban biodiversity is growing exponentially.
Persisting and pivoting in parallel, an active tension but with that same overarching mission – to bring more biodiversity into cities.
We’re really excited about it, and over the coming weeks we’ll share more images, and dive into a bit more detail around biodiversity, both the temporary and permanent products, and the benefits we think they bring.