Vertical Gardens by Patrick Blanc
Cities are turning green. And not just thanks to parks and revitalised river banks, urban farming or guerrilla gardening. It is the buildings themselves that add to the growing flora of our urban habitats.
One protagonist in this development is the French botanist turned artist Patrick Blanc. Since his first large-scale project involving his patented “mur vegetal”, the Hotel Pershing Hall in Paris of 2001, he has been a sought-after partner in, literally, green projects. It was the French designer Andrée Putman who contacted Blanc to plant one of the walls of Pershing Hall’s lobby. Her vision of a wall rising over 30 metres tall completely covered in living plants was Blanc’s starting point as partner in high-profile architectural projects. These days he often cooperates with architects such as Jean Nouvel and Herzog & de Meuron. His earliest work for Jean Nouvel, covering merely a few square metres above the entrance of the Fondation Cartier, dates back to 1994. One of their best-known projects is probably the Musée du quai Branly in Paris, completed in 2004, which grew to dimensions of 200 metres in length by 12 metres in height. Their most recent and still on-going cooperation will top this by far: the construction of the new high-rise complex “One Central Park” in Sydney commenced in 2010 and its completion is expected for 2013.
The vertical gardens by Patrick Blanc grow on a three-part system developed by Blanc himself and patented since 1988. It consist of a metal frame covered with slabs of PVC and two layers of polyamide felt stapled to them, which support the roots of the plants. A network of pipes provides water and thanks to the felt’s capillary action the plants can take up just the amount of water and those nutrients dissolved in it they need, which makes it possible to combine species with different needs right next to each other. Weighing in at 30 kg per square metre, the construction is light enough to be fixed to load-bearing walls outside and in.
April 2012 sees the publication of a revised and updated edition of Patrick Blanc’s “The Vertical Garden: From Nature to the City”, published by W. W. Norton & Company.