Indeed, infrastructure, maintenance and cost are some of the main considerations when assessing the adaptability of the idea, to all kinds of work and living spaces.
This is what I've found during the past 12 months in my personal research, gardening and cultivating some of the top purifying plants at our workshop and at home:
Many of the best ranked plants (see some links at the end) such as peace lily, snake plant, spider plant and different kinds of small palm trees, succeed in a variety of conditions, including low light and irregular watering. They are very low maintenance, hardy, and easily available here as mature plants. Once you recognise these, you'll start to spot them in every hotel lobby, conference center and public space, as they are economical and easy to care for. For water, during winter in our studio space (an old Brunswick factory hall with some insulation added) the temperature is quite cool and the plants thrive without watering for more than a week at a time. At summer, once a week watering with a bit of liquid fertiliser mixed in suffices for most of the plants.We consider this an easy management scheme as we don't have paid gardening help.
The "design task of the installation" can be as simple or complicated as the person wants it to be. I frased it like that because we are planning to custom design and construct vessels with wheels to house the plants to become an art installation; a special, sculptural part of our interior architecture. This is our choice - for the same air-purifying effect, plants simply in pots (or pots supported in baskets or wall rings, for instance) work just as well.
Acquiring some of the species as mature plants can be a bit trickier and more costly as Cheli noted. I spotted some money plants at Bunnings a month ago as small saplings, and they weren't too expensive, might be an alternative for sprouting? I was also just recently told - and will have to verify this - that wholesale nurseries around Melbourne are the best places to purchase indoor plants from, as all the commercial nurseries, including the sustainable ones, get theirs from there anyway. They are grown in Queensland. I'm not yet aware of how a company acquires a wholesale permit, but we're looking in that as we'll require a substantial amount of different plants, to be effective for the size of our small factory hall.
Maintenance and installation apart, accepting that there is a cost involved as with any air-filterning systems, it might be the sheer number of plants needed that becomes the biggest challenge. To make a real impact, there need to be several mature plants per person. If you live with your beau in a small flat... you might have to really plan this well! And that's why we have named our project a "forest", as a factory size studio we'll need a very large group of plants. This is a good, short TED Talk by an Indian environmental activist Kamal Meale who cured his asthma by researching plants, explains the numbers needed well: http://www.ted.com/talks/kamal_meattle_on_how_to_grow_your_own_fresh_air?language=en
One thing that might change this in the future, is that the roots of many plants are the most effective air-filter. If the plants can be housed in pots which allow air-circulation through the roots, their impact is multifold. There is a manufacturer of these kinds of special vessels in the US, but their cost of USD $229 per piece rules them still out for many ordinary enthusiasts. See here: http://www.plantairpurifier.com/product-details-overview and also here, the inventor's website, Dr Bill Wolverton, and ex-NASA scientist: www.wolvertonenvironmental.com
Well that was an essay! Thanks for your interest guys, hope this info covered some of the things you mentioned in the previous posts, Dave, Scotty & Cheli.
Thanks everyone - we are currently holding a 2nd spot which means we are in the running for getting funding; 1 & 2 places win! Tell your friends too, there's nothing to lose, and lots to win as we want to make all our research findings a free public resource.
I want to thank all those who supported us and the Indoor Forest-project, either by voting or in spirit. I'm happy to announce we were winners in the Local Project-competition by Bank of Melbourne, and have just received $10,000 to realise our dream!
This means it's onto researching, designing and building an air-purifying forest in Northcity4, in Brunswick, Victoria.
I welcome any questions, comments, ideas, and site visits during the project (2015-2016), and hope to share our findings and process in a way which will inspire others to work with plants also.