The Vertical Garden - The Art of Organic Architecture

by Mark in Architecture, Outdoor

Vertical garden Quai Branly Museum Paris

Photo: Patrick Blanc - Vertical Garden, Quai Branly Museum, Paris

Plato said that "necessity is the mother of invention" and vertical gardens confirm this adage.

There's a problem with the urban sprawl dominated by concrete, steel and glass sky-scrapers, with the lack of space, especially that of green areas. An interesting solution which reminds us of the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis would be the Vertical Gardens or "Mur Vegetal" (term used in France).

One of the most important promoters of vertical gardens is the French botanist Patrick Blanc. His accomplishments are true ecological works of art, decorating the facades and halls of numerous museums, hotels, commercial buildings or offices in Paris, Madrid, Istanbul, Qatar, Kuala Lumpur and other cities in the world.

After decades of research at the National Centre of Scientific Research in Paris combined with his research travels on the Thai tropical islands, Blanc concluded that for many plants, the soil is nothing more and nothing less than mechanical support. Essential for the growth of the plants are the water, the minerals diluted in water, the light and the carbon dioxide necessary for photosynthesis.

Vertical Garden

Photo: Patrick Blanc - Vertical garden, Sainte-Genevieve des Bois, Paris

The vertical gardens designed by Patrick Blanc have a vertical metal, PVC and felt structure as a support. Felt is highly resistant to corrosion and it allows the proper and equable water distribution. The plants develop their roots on this felt.

Irrigation and fertilization are done automatically from the upper part, just as it would happen with rainfall in a natural environment.

Vertical Garden, Hotel Departement Hauts de Seine, Paris

Photo: Patrick Blanc - Vertical garden, Hotel Departement Hauts de Seine, Paris

The vertical gardens are capable of creating their own microclimate by maintaining the dampness high and by allowing the germination of seeds and growth of ferns and moss.

Choosing the right plants is the most important aspect of a successful project. Blanc recommends a few species such as araceae, begonia and ludisia, but also flowers appreciated for their perfume and bright colours, such as the Campanula portenschlagiana (Dalmatian bellflower).

Vertical Garden

Photo: Patrick Blanc - Vertical Garden with Campanula portenschlagiana in flower, Quai Branly Museum, Paris

Advantages of having a vertical garden

  • It creates spectacular visual effects;
  • Vertical Garden, National Theater, Taipei

    Photo: Patrick Blanc - Vertical Garden, National Theater, Taipei

  • It can grow many plants on a reduced horizontal area;
  • Porch with Vertical Garden

    Photo: Janet Palk

  • It significantly contributes to the improvement of air quality, especially in urban areas;
  • Regulates the dampness and temperature in the case of indoor gardens;
  • Porch with Vertical Garden

    Photo: Janet Palk - Vertical garden in bathroom

  • It can offer some privacy by using it as a hedge;
  • Porch with Vertical Garden

    Photo: JKT - Vertical Garden

    Porch with Vertical Garden

    Photo: Matarozzi Pelsinger Builders - Vertical Garden

  • It can disguise a less pleasant view;

  • Porch with Vertical Garden

    Photo: Donna Lynn - Vertical Garden on a wood fence

  • It can be a cover blocking the scorching sun and shading a particular area;
  • It ensures excellent air circulation for plants;
  • It can have positive effects on the psyche and productivity of the employees if these gardens are put in office buildings, or on passengers in public institutions.
  • Porch with Vertical Garden

    Photo: Patrick Blanc - Vertical Garden, Omote Sando Gyre, Tokyo

With some research, work, and imagination, each and every one of us can decorate their house or garden with such green walls.

The best example was given by Patrick Blanc. Here's how his study room from his home in Paris looks like.

Porch with Vertical Garden

Patrick Blanc Home office

Ivy or other climbing plants create the oldest and simplest shapes of vertical gardens, some even naturally.

Porch with Vertical Garden

Photo: Zanon Architetti Associati

Porch with Vertical Garden

Photo: Planters

Attention!

Some plants could be aggressive and invasive; others could be toxic for the kids or pets. Ask about these plants before buying in order to avoid unnecessary inconveniences!