Perhaps not quite what you’d expect.
Built with recycled sheet metal, its tin roof held down by bricks, this shack in Hong Kong’s Tai Wai Village is covered by potted plants — an improvised take on the sophisticated green walls pioneered by people like Patrick Blanc.
Hong Kong’s public housing estates are going green. In recent years, the Housing Authority has been using its estates as laboratories for the latest green technologies, a move that could help reduce Hong Kong’s air pollution and encourage more sustainable building practices.
Some of the authority’s latest efforts can be seen in Yau Lai Estate, a newly-built housing estate in Yau Tong that opened last year. Standing near the estate’s main entrance are three green walls covered in a mix of grass and climbing plants. While the walls also serve a decorative purpose — the arrangement of red and green plants on one is based on a drawing of a fish made by Yau Tong schoolchildren — a study completed last November found that the greenery cooled temperatures on the walls’ exterior surface by up to 16 degrees. Temperatures on their interior surface dropped by 1.5 to 3.5 degrees.
If the green walls are adopted on a widespread basis, they could significantly reduce housing estates’ energy consumption by cutting air-conditioning costs, said the Housing Authority’s chief architect, Clifford Cheng Chiu-yeung. They would also help cool the outside ambient temperatures. That in turn would reduce Hong Kong’s urban heat island effect, which has been making summer weather even hotter and more unstable than normal.