Rubens at the Palace Hotel


The Rubens Hotel living wall turned three years old in August this year. Standing 350 square meters and consisting of 10,000 herbaceous plants and ferns it’s one of the largest and environmentally conscious designs in London.

The varied planting design attracts a range of insects and birds year round to an area of London displaying all the infrastructure and materials typical of a heavily trafficked city area. Aside from the initial aesthetics the wall immediately delivered to the area insulation research carried in May 2014 indicated the planted section was 10.7 degrees cooler than corresponding aspects of the uncovered wall, thereby helping to retain heat in winter months and aid internal cooling in summer.

However this wall holds quite an interesting story, one which you would never guess given its bountiful appearence. Back during the installation of this project the UK was subjected to a blistering heatwave, and some of the hottest temperatures experienced in 300 years, making planting at 21m high exhausting and rather arduous – by the time we’d planted and watered a section and moved on to the next the vegetation was already dry. But we perservered regardless and finsihed the planting to schedule ready for the big reveal.

A few months later due to an internal error on our water programming system we realised the wall had not actually been receiving any water for weeks – a closer inspection showed a small portion of the wall to be browning but nowhere near what we had anticipated. This was one of our first realisations the wall had begun to exhibit micro-climates between plants and taht our system was capable of retaining much more water than conventional felt living wall systems.

Upgrades and a tighter monitoring system swiftly followed and we placed all our trust on our living wall system.

Fast forward three uneventful years and the living wall has been one of our greatest victories, from problematic starts to lush leafy endings, it was a fats learning curve for Treebox and one which has only made us and our innovation greater.

Here’s a picture timeline of how the wall has evolved over the three years from initial planting to individual species such as Hebe’s which reach an impressive 1m in diameter now – this is one wall which becomes more complex in texture and colour with each passing season, and will always be one of our favourites!