A Brief Survey of Vertical Gardens, Plantscrapers, and Edible Restaurants


What we like to think of as the greatest French invasion since Ladurée opened its doors on Madison Avenue, Patrick Blanc’s revolutionary mur végétal was installed at The New York Botanical Garden last month. Described as “mesmerizing and seductive,” the Orchid Show is not only the nation’s largest exhibition of the mysterious, exotic plant, but it’s also one of the few places in the States where you can experience what Time Magazine called one of The 50 Best Inventions of 2009: the vertical garden.

Inspiring architects and designers the world over to explore everything from vertical farms, skyscraper greenhouses, living murals, and restaurants with edible façades that take the notion of locavore to another level entirely, our favorite green-haired botanist has helped to usher in the post-industrial era’s successor — a new design epoch that we think should be classified as The Age of the Plant.

From Plantagon’s skyscraper farms in Sweden to the world’s first vertical forest in Italy to Singapore’s modern reinterpretation of the hanging gardens of Babylon, click through to check out our favorite living projects that are a welcome sign of today’s wilder, nature-loving times.

Skyscraper greenhouses – Linkoping, Sweden

Image credit: Plantagon

The Building You Can Eat – Los Angeles, California

Image credit: sander architects

Sander Architects explains that the new design for LA’s Grace Restaurant in a decommissioned Catholic cathedral will be “sheathed in a vertical garden, using edible plants. Passers-by will literally be able to pick fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the building.”

I’d rather make a forest than a street – Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Image credit: 2012Architecten via inhabitat

Inhabitat writes that “2012 Architecten’s vertical garden, also known as I’d rather make a forest than a street, is an innovative way to distract local residents from the necessary two year construction period – a sort of apology that also has great environmental benefits. In addition to recycling the materials necessary to decorate the facade, the designers installed a rainwater capture system with a series of holding tanks in the building’s attic.”

Navy Pier – Chicago, Illinois

Image credit: The Navy Pier Vision

As their competition entry reads for The Centennial Vision: A Framework for Reimagining Navy Pier, the AECOM/BIG team “plans to develop a vertical urban farm and juice bar that would provide food for the restaurants on the pier. Fruits and veggies would be grown in tall, sculptural pillars, which could be viewed from aerial boardwalks. The team also envisions planting skyline roof gardens on top of existing buildings.”

J-House – Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

Image credit: Design Collective Architecture via designboom

As Design Collective Architecture states, the renovation project to a double-story terrace house “integrates a private vertical garden into the layout to promote an illuminated interior atmosphere.”

Park Royal Tower – Singapore

Image credit: inhabitat

A modern day version of Babylon’s famous hanging gardens, “the high-end office and hotel tower features a podium absolutely overrun with vertical gardens, contoured green pathways, water features, and leafy terraces. When it is completed later this year, this groundbreaking project will boast a whopping 15,000 square meters of green space.”

Home 06 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Image credit: i29 via Dezeen

Bosco Verticale or “Vertical Forest” – Milan, Italy

Image credit: Stefano Boeri via The Creator’s Project

Italian architect Stefano Boeri states “the project took inspiration from traditional Italian towers covered in ivy. Boeri has simply multiplied the amount of foliage to a dramatic degree, envisioning residential buildings that resemble tall boxy trees. Each apartment unit has a balcony attached, with a lush garden enveloping the structure. The two towers will provide roots for 900 trees, as well as plenty of shrubbery and other floral vegetation. Their footprint, when flattened, is equal to 10,000 square meters of forest. Bosco Verticale provides a plan to make reforestation possible within the confines of a developed city.”

House in the outskirts – Brussels, Belgium

Image credit: Samyn and Partners

This house near Brussels by architects Samyn and Partners has a glass wall at the front and a plant-covered wall by the one-and-only French botanical artist Patrick Blanc at the back.

Loft JM Dimanche – Paris, France

Image credit: Patrick Blanc