Traditionally, the mash up of plants and buildings was an exercise in poetic symbolism. To wit: At the Princeton Ivy Club the mortared walls are well rooted for posterity–literally–with clinging ivy and the shelter of trees.
In the contemporary version, there's a new urgency: Faced not only with the necessity of making the most of our diminishing space and resources, how can we create more public greenspace as our potential undeveloped lands are disappearing?
Here are some ideas for making the most of our finite leftovers.
Besides visually expanding greenspace, plantings on building walls and roofs offer other advantages. Plants act as insulation against heat and cold, absorb rainwater, create wildlife habitat, and on a larger scale help lower urban temperatures and mitigate the heat island effect (a phenomenon of hardscaped cities creating more heat than the surrounding rural space). Plus, the ability of living plants to act as carbon storage batteries in an era of global climate change may be vital.
Interiors can be green integrated too.
The potential of green building is on display in this shop of Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester in the Gangham district of Seoul. The architect was Korean architect Minsuuk Cho of the firm Mass Studies. The building features include a planted façade and a moss-lined internal stairway. For a more detailed vision of the project, see here.
Photos by Yong-Kwan Kim
This building, the brainchild of Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nghia, has been touted for its innovative integration of plants and architecture in a location especially known for its high temperatures, heavy rain, and sometimes day-long power shortages. The plants provide privacy while allowing for ventilation and natural daylighting.
More on this house here.
Below, more Vo Trong Nghia and his work in Viet Nam.
Here, Vo Trong's Wind and Water Bar: Not exactly a construction of living material but material that is only recently departed.
This planted façade is from a mixed-use building in Odawara, Japan.
And this, a banana plantation–or the modern urban equivalent–in the middle of Paris:
The urban forest in Tokyo: Quite possibly the future everywhere.