Taking landscaping to new heights, and using architecture as the vehicle, is an idea that stretches all the way back to the wondrous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and shows up most commonly today in the form of rooftop gardens and ivy-covered universities. But modern architects have devised new methods of sending plants skyward, whether its with a series of towering terraces or truly vertical gardens cultivated on the sides of buildings. Not only do these verdant feats of physics add a lush quality to the structures they adorn, they also provide eco-friendly benefits like producing oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide, and naturally cooling interior spaces. Masterminds like Herzog and de Meuron, Daniel Libeskind, Shigeru Ban, and Bjarke Ingels have all devised buildings that seamlessly blend structure and flora for a more integrative kind of architecture that recognizes our connection to the earth.
A wall of greenery stretches up the facade of One Central Park, a residential complex in Sydney, Australia, by Ateliers Jean Nouvel. The living art installation is the work of botanist Patrick Blanc, who used a mix of native and exotic plants.
Approximately 44,000 plants creep up the exterior wall of Centro Commerciale Fiordaliso, a shopping center in Rozzano, Italy, near Milan. Designed by architect Francesco Bollani, the living wall keeps the structure’s interior naturally cool.
A Patrick Blanc-designed garden sprawls upward at CaixaForum Madrid, a cultural center in Spain by Herzog and de Meuron. One of the site’s most recognizable features, the green wall is mean to evoke the nearby Royal Botanical Garden.
Lush foliage climbs up the facades of the two residential towers that make up the Ashton Morph Sukhumvit 38 complex in Bangkok. The greenery seamlessly integrates with the buildings’ tree-filled terraces and private garden areas.
Taipei City, Taiwan
This DNA-inspired structure, a Vincent Callebaut-designed residential building in Taiwan, will boast 23,000 trees along its twisting exterior when it’s completed this year. Known as Tao Zhu Yin Yuan, the tower will work to counteract surrounding air pollution.