ISABEL LA CATÓLICA
Imagine sitting with a book and a cappuccino, and looking out towards a beautiful garden. Designed and erected by Verde Vertical, this three-storey high, 180-sq-m vertical garden can actually be found flanking the highly frequented Azul Histórico restaurant in downtown Mexico City. Located within a charming colonial building, the garden features numerous species of plants that were chosen for their adaptability and hue. Laid out as if it were any regular recreational park, rather than one that grows up the side of a wall, it was conceived especially to delight. For an added touch of whimsy, it even features a bicycle on its “lawn”. Its creator, Verde Vertical, is an international workshop whose vision is to help the world plant 9sq-m of greenery per city inhabitant (the World Health Organization’s recommended square footage) by 2030.
ONE CENTRAL PARK
Sydney’s One Central Park may have a star design team led by Pritzker-winning architect Jean Nouvel and famed botanist Patrick Blanc, but it was really developer Stanley Quek (of Frasers Property) who first pushed the idea of creating vertical greenery. Now one of the most awarded green developments in the world, the double high-rise’s north and east-facing facades are wrapped with 38,000 plants, including 250 native Australian species that grow in harmony with some 200 exotic varieties. As the plants hang off the walls without the use of soil, they are able to grow lush and verdant without compromising structural integrity. Vines and foliage also spring out of planters to frame the profile of the modern structure, adding to the charm of living in an urban tree house.
Centring its design on environmental sustainability and energy efficiency, the Tree House by City Development Limited (CDL) in Upper Bukit Timah is home to a vast amount of thunbergia grandiflora vines. With its exterior covered by 2,289sq-m of greenery, it is no wonder that this 24-storey condominium has even graced the annals of the Guinness World Records as the largest vertical garden in the world. The flora reduces the estate’s carbon footprint and curbs heat absorption, which means less energy is required to cool indoor spaces. Cumulatively, the various means of energy and water savings employed by the condominium — including heat-reducing tinted windows and motion-activated lights — ring in approximately $500,000 worth of savings annually.
Exhibited at the entrance of Taipei’s National Theater & Concert Hall, Butterfly Dance is yet another stunner from prolific French botanist Patrick Blanc, regarded by many as the inventor of the vertical garden. The planting system he used can be traced all the way back to his days as a teenager in the 1960s when he conceived a biological filter for his tropical aquarium. This installation features 46 hybrid species of orchids along with 2,000 adiantums (maidenhair ferns) and other foliage. But what makes it all the more special is that it also houses 25 species of orchids native to the island nation. However, the orchid species most widely used in the work is what gave this vertical garden its name — the phalaenopsis, which means “looking like a butterfly”.
Conceived as a model for sustainable dwellings, Bosco Verticale is a pair of residential towers (112m and 80m high) in the Porta Nuova district of Milan. The brainchild of architect and urban planner Stefano Boeri, and landscapers Emanuela Borio and Laura Gatti, the towers host some 780 trees, 11,000 perennials and 5,000 shrubs that altogether roughly equals the vegetation of 20,000sq-m of flat forested land. The plants selected for the towers have the capacity to be inhabited by 1,600 birds and butterflies, and will change colours with the season, endowing the city with a dash of colour. Aside from producing oxygen and reducing CO2, they also protect the building and its residents from direct sunlight, harsh winds and airborne dust particles. The towers’ green credentials extend to the reduction of two degree C of heat loss during winter, thanks to the micro-climate created by the plants.