Architecture News | Green Walls and Vertical Gardens

A new study by Syracuse University, the State University of New York Upstate Medical University and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reveals that green buildings are not only healthy for the environment, but also for their inhabitants – both mentally and emotionally. Findings from the research affirm that occupants of green buildings sleep better, get sick less frequently and benefit from increased cognitive abilities. Essentially, a win for the Earth is a win for everyone!

In celebration of this study, we’re spotlighting some of the greenest of the green structures around the world – and in the visual sense of the word: those with vertical gardens. The vertical garden and green wall trend has been taking off worldwide since the 1980s, with success stories including residential towers, hotels, and outdoor parks. 

1. Nanjing Green Towers

Image Courtesy Stefano Boeri Architects
Image Courtesy Stefano Boeri Architects

This pair of towers will stand as Italian architect Stefano Boeri’s third installment of his Vertical Forest model and the first of its kind in Asia. Sporting a total of 1,100 trees and 2,500 cascading plants and shrubs along their facades, the Nanjing Green Towers will form their own microclimate, producing humidity and oxygen while absorbing CO2 and dust particles. Boeri’s original mission behind the projects was to incorporate as many plants onto the buildings that would otherwise have grown from the open ground they replace. When presented with the criticism that the amount of concrete needed to support the plants may negate the buildings’ sustainable reach, Boeri acknowledged that this prototype isn’t the only way toward improving urban environments. Rather, according to Digital Trends, the architect hopes the “project will positively influence the architectural trend”. And, from an aesthetic standpoint, Boeri’s Vertical Gardens serve to counteract “the excessive amount of glass on facades and the thermal effects that it has in our cities.”  

2. One Central Park

Image Courtesy Inhabitat
Image Courtesy Inhabitat

Now complete, One Central Park reigns as the world’s tallest vertical garden. The living, breathing building stands in Sydney, Australia, soaring 166 meters into the air with design by Jean Nouvel and Patrick Blanc. Described wonderfully by Bertram Beissel as “A flower for each resident, and a bouquet to the city,” the dual towers host 38,000 indigenous and exotic plants. With a unique cantilevered panel of mirrors, the development also reflects sunlight onto its lower levels to completely maximize the potential natural light

3. Oasia Hotel Downtown

Image Courtesy Best Singapore Hotels
Image Courtesy Best Singapore Hotels

Singapore’s response to the glass- and steel-adorned skyscrapers of NYC is the tropical Oasia Hotel Downtown. Designed by WOHA, the 30-story tower is now complete and features a red aluminum façade, soon to be overtaken by a bursting green plant presence. The designers carefully selected 21 different species of green plants and flowers to cover the façade and additionally planted several sky gardens that serve to naturally cool the structure.

4. Liberty Park

Image Courtesy DNAinfo
Image Courtesy DNAinfo

We would be remiss not to mention a relatively new livable green wall in the heart of NYC. If you haven’t checked it out already, Liberty Park opened this past summer as a part of the World Trade Center redevelopment. Developed and constructed by The Port Authority of New York, the park rises 25 feet tall and offers views of the 9/11 Memorial, as well as a place for patriotic and personal reflection. Inspired by the High Line, the elevated park extends one acre and leads to a 336-foot-long Living Wall at its northern end. The lovely garden features a gorgeous array of plants ranging from periwinkle and Japanese spurge to winter creeper and Baltic ivy.