The Changing Façade of Urban Architecture

Big city, smaller footprint: blurring the line between landscape design and modern architecture. 

The trend of vertical gardening is up, as is the rise of the jolly green skyscraper. Easy on the eyes and easier on the planet, the trend of upward greenery is transforming our concrete jungles into ivied oases.

The Musee du Quai Branly in Paris is one such example, with some 8,600 vertical square footage dedicated to more than 170 different species of plants.

London’s Athenaeum, its tendrils and blossoms looming high over Piccadilly Circus, is another.

As watchers of modern eco architecture, of course, there does come a point when we ask what it is, exactly, we’re looking at. “Is it a man, or a plane,” spectators once wondered of Superman. “Man, or Astroman?” punk relics wondered way back in the 90s.

Similarly we ask: is it architecture, or vegitecture?

That’s what the Barcelona City Council and one Spanish firm are calling this, the Green Side-Wall, “represent[ing] the birth of a novel type of construction in the field of vegitecture.” Constructed upon the eyesore remnants of a demolished building, the green supporting protective façade was created by the Barcelona firm Capella Garcia Arquitectura (follow that link for a visit to, perhaps, the strangest website ever).

An interior staircase lends access to the metal platforms throughout; a pulley system facilitates the transport of planters, nests, and other materials within the prefabricated steel frame.

Why vegitecture?

Buildings such as these literally breathe life into our cities and blessed lungs. Technologically speaking, turning a building into a living, self-sustaining one is complex, typically requiring a combination of sunshades, solar panels, and ventilation to catch water. And while the aesthetic contribution is obvious, practically speaking architectural thought sprouting in this direction could save the world, feed children and cool down our cities.

Our cityscapes are looking up.

Image: Toxel; mimoa; Domus

K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.