Breathe Wall

Breathe Wall

Grand Rapids, MI

Award Winner
LiveWall, LLC

Project Team

Designer, System Manufacturer, Plant Supplier, Installer: Dave MacKenzie, LiveWall, LLC
Business Developer: Amber Ponce, LiveWall, LLC

The largest graphic includes a windblown pattern of color in which white flowers spell Breathe O2 and symbolize the air. The green patterns, above and below, represent the forests and fields. And, the yellow in the upper right hand corner symbolizes the sun, which fuels photosynthesis, which yields oxygen. This vital process happens within the leaves, and therefore ‘Breathe’ also features leaf-shaped graphics of Michigan native trees, including catalpa, oak, beech and maple.
— Dave MacKenzie, Artist

The Fusion of Art and Nature

Entitled ‘Breathe’, this living art project at ArtPrize®, the world’s largest publicly voted art contest, is home to more than 3500 plants and reaches over 20 feet tall at its peak and stretches 150 feet long.  

Using the LiveWall® system as the canvas, the entry surrounds and buffers the noise and odors of the city around it.  ‘Breathe’ was inspired by the idea of restoring the built environment to a more natural state and restore balance to urban settings by reintroducing vegetation lost during urbanization.  16" wide planters were serviced by a spray nozzle which delivered rain-like irrigation to the plants contained within across the 1500 square foot wall with drain holes at the bottom of each planter.

In the first summer, a palette of over 70 different species created an abstract art piece.  After the annuals had been spent by colder temperatures, they were replaced with perennials. The following summer, sections of the wall were planted with 700 square feet of herbs, greens and vegetables. 

That fall, the remaining edibles were harvested, and prefabricated panels were added to the wall to create curvilinear extensions again transforming the structure into a work of art.  The installation was specifically designed to challenge and inspire each viewer to think differently about the constructed world—about how that world might look and feel if integrated with nature.