The developers at Fuse Cambridge in Cambridge, Mass., have taken interior design to a new level with their latest amenity feature.
Hines, the development firm behind the 244-unit luxury property, paired with Boston-based Cityscapes to bring a natural element into the area connecting the lobby and amenity space with the installation of its Living Green Wall.
The wall contains 1,512 mounted plants featuring species such as an Austral Gem Fern, Philodendron "Silver Splash," Epipremnum Aureum "Jade," and a Fittonia & Red Fittonia. The plants sit in 4-inch-diameter pots and are hand-watered and rotated by horticulturalists at Cityscapes. The feature took five days to install.
“Nature is one of the most beautiful arts there is, so we actually saw this as a kind of living, breathing art,” says Sean Sacks, director of development at Hines. “The plants grow, and the colors change a little bit with the seasons and temperatures. It’s never going to look exactly the same on any given day.”
But the creative and visually striking wall isn’t just there for decoration. In addition to complementing Fuse's LEED Silver certification, the plants themselves aid in providing natural air filtration, sound insulation, and thermal regulation within the space while reducing residents' stress levels, as well.
For the developers at Hines, incorporating biophilic design elements such as the Living Green Wall comes down to having happier residents leading healthier lifestyles.
“It’s one of the first things residents experience when they come into the community, and it helps bring your stress levels down,” says Sacks. “It’s a calming factor in people’s day, to come home and be in an environment that’s soothing.”
The Bozzuto Group's Nathan Lopez, property manager at Fuse Cambridge, agrees the wall’s calming properties are an essential part of the lifestyle crafted for the building’s residents.
“That’s ultimately what you always want to do as a management team,” Lopez says. “You want to take the worry off of someone about where they live.”
The community, which includes studios and one-, two-, and three-bedroom units ranging from 506 to 1,383 square feet, is located directly across from the 120-acre Alewife Brook Reservation. Floor-to-ceiling windows and walk-out patios or balconies featured in some units overlook numerous walking and biking trails at the reservation that are accessible to residents. Fuse Cambridge offers branded bikes tenants can use to ride through the reservation or surrounding city.
“One of the big themes and desires with the living wall was to have that connection with the outside inside the building,” Sacks says. “We had that connectivity generally with the reservation but wanted to have another piece inside the building.”
The design of the living wall, in fact, mimicks the natural elements of the adjacent reservation. When selecting the plants and determining the arrangement of the wall, the team sought to play off the colors and textures of the reservation as much as possible, to enhance the visual connection between the inside and out. And the property’s name pays homage to the nature-infused environment the developers sought to create in a bustling city.
“The idea with Fuse Cambridge was that we would be fusing together the best of urban living with suburban elements and nature,” says Sacks, especially in regard to the property’s location, which not only sits next to the reservation and provides access to natural amenities, but is within walking distance from urban elements, as well, such as subway train lines to downtown Boston, biking trails, and grocery stores.
“Biophilic design and the benefits of having a direct connection with nature in people’s homes is very much a growing trend,” says Sacks. “We’ve made the physical and visual connection as easy as possible."