Posted in biology, design and architecture, engineering

Grass tower of doom

Actually it’s a good thing, but the angle of this image makes it look kind of post-apocalyptic:

antigravity forest
antigravity forest

Looming over Green Park, it’s an eight-story antigravity forest composed of 12,000 plants.

Patrick Blanc uses a kind of techno-trellis as the underlying structure: A plastic-coated aluminum frame is fastened to the wall and covered with synthetic felt into which plant roots can burrow. A custom irrigation system keeps the felt moist with a fertilizer solution modeled after the rainwater that trickles through forest canopies.

But plants for this vertical landscape must be chosen with care. Because the walls are so high, conditions vary widely. The shade at ground level is perfect for rare Asian nettles; on the brighter upper stories, plants that usually cling to windblown cliff faces brave the blustery British breezes. (Wired Magazine)

I actually think the underpass wall design is a great idea for urban areas. So long as cities promise to keep the walls watered, I think it would improve air quality and aesthetic quality.

Pont Juvénal, in Aix-en-Provence
Pont Juvénal, in Aix-en-Provence


Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

27 thoughts on “Grass tower of doom

  1. I like the overpass, but the part about cities promising to keep the walls watered wouldn’t really fly in the dry desert cities of California, many of which are prone to water shortages and water rationings. Maybe there are native plants that could be used.

    1. Yes, they will have to perfect a grey water system. Useing used water from the building to re use to water the plants. It is being done in private homes and earth ship construction. ;]

  2. What about watering the walls with grey water? They do that here in some areas along the sides of the road. Although there are the lovely little signs that remind you to NOT drink that water.

  3. The tall green building looks cool to me, better than the usual glass and concrete. I see enough glass and concrete every day, something different is good.

    The suggestion for using grey water is fantastic!!! That way, the plants don’t require any extra water to be taken from diminishing resevoirs. Especially in places such as Southern Nevada, Southern California and Arizona, where H20 is already scarce and imported from Northern Nevada and Northern California.

    Could this idea be tweaked somehow help save those fast-flying birds who can’t see the clear, clean glass? (see below)

    Window Collisions
    Bright Lights, Big Cities: Lights and Windows are the Deadliest Hazards for Birds

    “At least 100,000,000 birds are killed and even more are injured every year across North America by collisions with windows.”

  4. Hey – i LOVE the whole Vertical Gardening thang that’s cropping up at the moment.
    There are several more examples in London – i write about them in my trendspotting blog – hotspotting.

    The guy who did the Athenaeum Hotel (Patrick Blanc) also did a restaurant in King’s Cross called The Driver.

    Have a look here if you’d like to learn more about them…

    Lovely picture too btw 🙂
    I took a very similar picture yesterday!

    (aka Natalie Barrass)

  5. Well, this idea is THE way into a better future, can anyone guess the reduction in heat reflection from our tumour-like concrete-n-asphalt coated cities? Not to mention the CO2 these plants would absorb….really great concept, only one question left in my mind, what about pest control? Insects tend to love plants…

  6. One could think, that this is a solution for environmental problems. But some questions remain:

    1. The cost. How much real land could be bought free or restored in comparison? There are huge areas of desertification- land.
    2. The safety: How are passengers protected from falling parts, seeds, branches?
    3. The durability. How long will it look nice? What in winter? What if the whole thing rots and produces a permanent layer of humus that rains onto the pavement, blocking sewers etc.?

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