Car-parking buildings are not often recognised for having innovative, aesthetic or sustainable design. The new Manly Vale commuter car park is, however, setting a new precedent. Designed by DesignInc and wrapped in a Junglefy Breathing Wall, it is an attractive and environmentally practical piece of urban infrastructure, and a world-first project.

The Northern Beaches B-Line is a new rapid bus service between Mona Vale and Sydney CBD. DesignInc were engaged by Fulton Hogan under their Design & Contract contract with Transport for NSW to provide architectural, urban design and landscape services for the bus route corridor, including bus shelters, bus stops and commuter car parks at Manly Vale, Narrabeen and Warriewood.

The Manly Vale commuter car park is a multi-level building with four split levels containing 150 car spaces, with expansion to 22. While it sounds like a standard car-parking building, its presentation and functionality are enhanced with the Breathing Wall, developed by Junglefy in association with UTS.

The Breathing Wall is an advanced, modular green-wall system that accelerates the removal of air pollutants and acts as a sound barrier. In doing so, it improves acoustics and air quality and cools the surrounding air temperature, resulting in energy efficiency and reduced air conditioning costs.

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The green wall uses an active ventilation to pull air through the panels and over the leaves and growing medium. The panels are made of linear, low-density polyethylene and a growing medium that is high in coconut fibre. An electric axial impeller system provides a uniform airflow and “super-charges” the process of reducing CO2 levels, eliminating air pollutants and cooling and humidifying indoor air.

Dr Fraser Torpy and his UTS colleagues researched the efficiency of the Breathing Wall, finding it provides a more efficient, economical and healthier alternative to traditional HVAC systems. The research revealed that one module can clean a far greater volume of air than one traditional green wall module or one pot plant, and it would require hundreds and hundreds of pot plants or a much larger traditional green wall to achieve the same results as one module.

DesignInc’s team of architects and landscape architects sized and configured the breathing wall panels on three exposed faces of the building. DesignInc’s green wall composition stemmed from Junglefy’s plant species palate, a clustering of 9000 plants based on colour, texture, sunlight and shade requirements. Junglefy selected plants to encourage biodiversity and provide a year-round food source for pollinators. The western façade is concentrated with pollinator-attracting plant species, as pollinators like to forage for food in bright, warm and sunny positions.

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Junglefy also collaborated with DesignInc in the development of rotating Breathing Wall panels. The panels rotate 180 degrees to enable regular maintenance and repairs to be carried out safely and effectively from within the building to eliminate costly and unsightly building maintenance unit outside the building and so as not to disrupt traffic or bus services on a busy intersection. This advancement extends the application and possibilities of the Breathing Wall, which could potentially be used alongside highways or similar urban infrastructure, transforming it into more innovative, aesthetic and sustainable design.