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10 Inspiring Vertical Gardens Growing in Offices
By Julian,
Business Pundit, 26 January 2015.

Forward-thinking companies like Google and Red Bull seem to do everything they can to break the mould and enhance the working environment for their many employees. Indeed, now offices can be fun, inspiring and, in the following cases, revitalizing spaces in which to spend the business day.

The addition of a lush vertical garden, or living wall, can literally help employees breathe easier while also improving their emotional state and possibly offsetting “sick building syndrome.” French botanist Patrick Blanc has perfected the concept, which uses a metal framework, PVC sheets, felt and an irrigation network to water the plants and provide them with essential nutrients.

These workspace vertical gardens are growing in popularity, transforming everyday structures into beautiful, natural-looking sites; here are ten of the most impressive installed in or on offices around the globe.

10. Six Battery Road - Central Business District, Singapore

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Dubbed “Rainforest Rhapsody,” the lush vertical garden-cum-jungle that adorns the walls of Six Battery Road’s lobby is an installation in Singapore’s rapidly greening Central Business District. The 2,000-square-foot wonder was designed by French vertical garden guru Patrick Blanc and was the area’s biggest indoor living wall when completed in 2011. The impressive plot uses Blanc’s innovative vertical garden technique, which utilizes a precise irrigation system to replicate the natural way in which plants grow on tropical branches and in upright environments without soil. Featuring around 120 plant varieties, the garden was one of the first stages of an astounding US$73.6 million asset enhancement scheme announced in 2010 by CapitaLand, owners of Six Battery Road. The plan saw the building become the inaugural local and occupied office block to win a Green Mark Platinum Award.

9. MSF Head Office, Natura Towers - Lisbon, Portugal

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Divided by water cascading down dark slate and jam-packed with verdant vegetation, the vertical garden that fills the lobby of MSF’s Lisbon head office gives the sense of a vibrant tropical rain forest. The garden was designed by Sweden’s Vertical Garden Design - which also has offices in Lisbon and Barcelona - and was completed in 2009. It features Araceae Scindapsus and Philodendron, ferns Pteris and Davallia, and leafy Peperomia, which is mostly found in South America. By 2011 the plants had grown significantly, particularly the Giant Philodendron, further enhancing the garden’s untamed jungle feel. Vertical Garden Design also added a multi-layered living wall to the exterior of the building, creating a “woodland character with a tropical touch.”

8. Pasona Urban Farm - Tokyo, Japan

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Seeming to feature plants where windows should be, the Pasona Urban Farm in downtown Tokyo is quite a sight. Pasona Group, a Japanese recruitment firm, employed New York-based Kono Designs to overhaul the design of the nine-story building, with work completed in 2010. The restored half-century-old structure features greenery spread over 43,000 square feet, including the lush double-layered exterior. Fascinatingly, the design incorporates edible plants - and moreover these are sustained and harvested by employees and a farming expert and served at the company’s on-site eateries in what is said to be the country’s biggest farm-to-plate office initiative. Kono Designs founder Yoshimi Kono explained that Pasona Group “has a larger vision to help create new farmers in urban areas of Japan and a renewed interest in that lifestyle.”

7. Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Amiens, France

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The vertical gardens adorning the walls of Picardy’s Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) building in Amiens, France were designed by Parisian agency Chartier-Corbasson Architectes. The living wall-clad facility was completed in 2009 and is a six-story extension to a pre-existing 20th-century Art Nouveau mansion. RCCI Picardy was reportedly so taken with the space that its original intention of inhabiting both buildings was scrapped in favour of relocating into the extension, meaning that the old structure could be repurposed as a reception area. The green walls link and blend the two strikingly different buildings and were inspired by a Japanese garden that already surrounded the site, with the architect describing them as a “continuation of the existing landscape.” The new facility features offices, meeting rooms, and a theatre seating 189.

6. Elche Corporate Offices - Alicante, Spain

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Completed in 2010, this three-story, 32-foot-tall living wall in Alicante, Spain - set in a corporate warehouse in Elche - is regarded as the country’s biggest indoor vertical garden. Its 70 plant types were chosen in order to offset carbon dioxide levels and negate the effects of pollutants produced by office equipment, thus reducing employees’ chances of developing “sick building syndrome.” Alicante-based companies Paisajismo Urbano and Urbanarbolismo created the garden, which features 4,000 individual plants in total. What’s more, the garden is bathed in light thanks to an overhead skylight and artificial lighting, with its splendid greenery visible through the building’s glass-walled offices and transparent elevator. According to VitaWall, the feature is “a true luxury for employees and their clients.”

5. Desjardins Group Headquarters - Quebec, Canada

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In 2014 Vancouver-based firm Green Over Grey built the world’s loftiest indoor upright garden - for North American financial services giant Desjardins Group. The massive living wall is 213 feet tall and covers a 2,139-square-foot space inside Desjardins’ Lévis, Quebec headquarters. Green Over Grey spent almost half a year designing the garden, which incorporates 42 flora species and 11,000 distinct plants, among them Philodendron, Sansevieria trifasciata, fig trees, Clusia, banana trees and ginger. Meanwhile, hydroponic technology has been brought into play using reprocessed materials, plus panels constructed from recycled bags and bottles. “We wanted to find a tangible way to show our commitment to sustainable development and enrich our employees’ work environment,” explained Monique F. Leroux, Desjardins’ president, CEO and chair.

4. Patrick Blanc’s Home Office - Paris, France

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Leading vertical garden designer Patrick Blanc clearly has no problem taking his work home with him. The avant-garde botanist has installed more than 140 vertical gardens for various clients, and his own home - designed in conjunction with architect Gilles Ebersolt in 2009 - includes living walls and greenery in his office and, indeed, other rooms. Blanc’s perfected technique mimics naturally growing cliff vegetation and involves a metal framework, PVC plates, decay-resistant polyamide felt and an automated irrigation network that feeds the garden water and nutrients. In addition to being known for its green wall, Blanc’s home office is notable for the fact that it is situated above a 20,000-litre tropical fish tank that doubles as under-floor heating. The “welcome oasis” no doubt also provides Blanc with an inspiring place in which to realize his incredible designs.

3. 158 Cecil Street - Central Business District, Singapore

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The vertical garden that lives and breathes inside 158 Cecil Street in Singapore’s Central Business District makes the once-unpopular space resemble a revitalized jungle paradise. Realized by local firm Tierra Design in 2012, the project was based around the idea of a hanging garden. The result is a stunning seven-story, 11,571-square-foot vertical garden that incorporates 13,000 potted plants into a number of green walls. What’s more, Tierra enhanced existing planters with complementary drooping greenery that ties the whole design together, creating a vibrant workspace. In 2012 the project won a World Best Vertical Garden Design Gold Award from the World Green Roof Congress, while it also made the shortlist for “Landscape of the Year” at the same year’s World Architecture Festival.

2. Green Office - Meudon, France

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This incredible office block in Meudon, France has been described as “the world’s largest positive-energy building.” It was developed as French property company Bouygues Immobilier’s inaugural Green Office and was designed by Ion Enescu from Paris-based agency ATELIERS 115. Ultimately, it was sold to French global investment company Scor, which leased it to Steria France. The project was finished in 2011, and by 2012 it had already realized its goal of turning out more energy, generated through renewable sources, than it expended. And arguably no eco-minded office would be complete without a Patrick Blanc vertical garden. Indeed, the latter’s lush greenery perhaps helped the building - which produces almost no carbon emissions - secure its “Excellent” BREEAM and HQE certification.

1. Ocean Financial Centre - Central Business District, Singapore

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The sprawling vertical garden installed to cover the Ocean Financial Centre’s otherwise incongruous parking garage lends the downtown Singapore office building a beautiful natural feel. Around 65 feet high and 360 feet wide, the impressive living wall cleverly uses 51,000 potted plants to display maps of areas around the globe. Local firm Tierra Design further intended the garden to decrease the surface temperature and carbon footprint of the garage. This may have contributed to the whole building - currently owned by K-Reit Asia Management - being awarded LEED Platinum status in 2012, the same year that the garden was completed. In 2013 the lush facade won a National Parks Board Skyrise Greenery Award and set a - since eclipsed - Guinness World Record for the “Largest Vertical Garden.”

Top image: Ocean Financial Centre, Singapore. Credit: Tierra Design.

[Source: Business Pundit. Edited. Links added.]

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