Generate shadows without trees: vegetable awnings, a new way to generate shadows in the city.

Green Shades is the first system in the world that allows the installation of vegetable awnings, that is, tensile sails covered with vegetation, opening a new range of possibilities for urban landscaping, improving the climate control of spaces covered by tensile structures.

In this article we are going to explain all the benefits and the functioning of this new tool to renaturalize cities.

But before we start talking about green canopies we want to put you in context: in June 2017 started the Urban GreenUp Project, a European project funded by the Horizon 2020 program in which 25 partners from 9 different nationalities collaborate.

The aim of these interventions was to mitigate the effects of climate change, improve air quality and water management, as well as increase the sustainability of the city. This project ended in 2020 and different actions were carried out in the cities of Liverpool, Izmir and Valladolid.

SingularGreen as part of this project carried out different interventions of urban renaturalization and among them developed the vegetal canopies thanks to the potential of LeafSkin®.

What are green canopies?

GreenShades offer a new optimized solution to generate shadows and introduce nature in commercial streets, terraces and squares.

Toldos vegetales instalados en la calle Santa Maria Valladolid

Greenshades is a versatile system that adapts to the multiple shapes and dimensions of tensioned sails. The lightness and ease of installation allows the generation of shadows and nature in commercial streets and public spaces where trees or other vegetation cannot be placed due to lack of space.

Benefits of vegetal awnings

The benefits of vegetal awnings are varied, from urban to environmental, below we explain the main ones:

Creation of original urban spaces with shade.

It generates shadows for the enjoyment of the public space without taking away space from the users.

Ideal for those places with high sun exposure, which are also protected from the rain.

Better use of urban spaces

It allows the introduction of vegetation in urban areas where space is limited. In this way, the revitalization of deteriorated or difficult to use urban spaces is achieved.

Reduction of environmental pollution

1m² of vegetated surface generates the oxygen required by a person throughout the year, and filters harmful gases, improving the air quality of the environments where it is installed.

It absorbs NOX and CO2, contributing to the improvement of air quality in the vegetation.

It also reduces noise pollution through the absorption of waves by the substrate and the reflection of the vegetation.

Temperature and humidity regulation

Through the evapotranspiration process of the plants, it generates a decrease in the temperature of the environment and contributes to the regulation of humidity.

The spaces and projects created reduce the temperature both in their surroundings and under the roof acting as plant air conditioners with a cooling power of 112 frigories/m2.

GreenShades system design and components

Valladolid City Council together with SingularGreen as partners of the European URBAN GreenUp project carried out in 2019 different interventions with Nature Based Solutions in their city. SingularGreen as a designer and project manager developed the project called GreenShades, thus creating the first system worldwide that allows the installation of green canopies.

vista desde arriba de los toldos vegetales de Valladolid
Photo of the vegetal awnings in bloom on Santa Maria street in Valladolid.

These sails stretched with vegetation installed in Santa Maria street in Valladolid, which occupy an approximate extension of 201m, arise from the idea of creating an urban corridor with vegetation and shade in an urban area of reduced space, aiming to achieve a revitalisation of deteriorated municipal spaces that are difficult to use, where it is not possible to place trees with tree wells.

Montaje de los toldos vegetados
Detailed diagram of the vegetated candles in Santa Maria street in Valladolid.

The vegetal sails are composed of a four-metre long triangular textile vegetal canopy, seeded with species selected specifically for the climate of Valladolid. This seeded system, called LeafSkin®, makes the vegetated sails the finest vertical gardening system in the world.

Vista de planta esquema calle

Detailed diagram of the vegetated candles in Santa Maria street in Valladolid.

The awnings are supported by a system of tensioning cables and stainless steel plates. These plates are anchored to the individual street facades. In addition, a protocol was drawn up together with the fire brigade for easy dismantling in the event of an emergency.

Esquema detalle de los toldos vegetales
Detailed diagram of the plant canopies

For the water supply and return there is a central aluminium lattice beam running along the street.

Viga central de celosía de aluminio
Aluminium lattice girder central beam

The water supply and return pipes as well as the electrical cables are routed along the structure. Each plant canopy is fitted with two drip pipes that form the terminals for the irrigation system.

Vista aérea de los toldos vegetales
Aerial view of the vegetal canopies

Water is collected in an installation room. A disused kiosk was used for the installation of the irrigation system equipment. One irrigation pipe runs from the kiosk to the awnings and another runs parallel to it, but in the opposite direction, returning to the installation.

  • This system opens up a new range of possibilities and benefits for urban landscaping:
  • It achieves a reduction of 2ºC in the street and therefore improves the environment as the awnings operate with a cooling power of 112 frigories/m2. In addition, it reduces noise pollution through the absorption of waves by the substrate and the reflection of the vegetation.
  • It makes maximum use of water as it has an irrigation water recirculation circuit.

In terms of urban design, the hanging planter allows the centralisation of water and light installations. This produces savings as the lights are equipped with movement sensors which illuminate the street according to need.

GreenShades, a creative nature-based solution

This type of nature-based solution, such as green canopies, are useful tools to bring added value to increasingly urbanised cities, helping to develop cities with a more sustainable and healthy approach.

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