Anthony Biglieri and The Living Wall Inc.

Ryerson Alumni Magazine – Winter 2009


By Shlomit Kriger, Journalism ’05

When Anthony Biglieri, Urban and Regional Planning ’83, sees that improvements can be made around the city, he likes to take charge. As president of The Living Wall Inc., he has been revolutionizing walls as people know them.

Unlike typical concrete or wooden walls or fences, ‘living walls’ are made of small willow trees woven around fence-like frames and rooted into the ground. They grow quickly, aren’t as prone to vandalism as other walls, cut down on noise, and reduce carbon dioxide.

“I would rather walk or drive by some vegetation or leaf material,” said Anthony. “The walls are beneficial from an aesthetic perspective, as well as an environmental perspective.”

The walls can be used for commercial, parkland or highway installations, and individual residential lots.

The idea originated in Germany, where developer Karl Heinz Freitag designed the first living walls. When his colleague, Josef Scholbeck, moved to Canada, Anthony shared his vision to enhance nature and beautify the country, and the three created The Living Wall Inc.

Now, there are more than 50 living walls in Ontario, Quebec and the East Coast. The largest one, at Danforth Road and Birchmount in Toronto, spans almost 400 metres, dividing a subdivision from a TTC bus depot. Comprising about 18,000 trees, the wall helps reduce carbon dioxide by eight to 12 tonnes each year.

Anthony knew his company was making strides when last April the City of Toronto bestowed his company with a Green Design Award, one of the Green Toronto Awards honouring those working toward a greener and more liveable city.

“It was like winning an Academy Award,” said Anthony. “It meant a lot for us that people are listening, and we’re doing something good for our cities, the environment and our way of life.”