Green walls provide insulation and shade for reduced energy costs, purify the air and dramatically improve the looks of otherwise boring buildings. In the past few years, vertical greenery has flourished in cities all over the world, from New Zealand to The Netherlands. Here are 12 (more!) examples of vertical gardens of all shapes and sizes, including the world’s largest living wall in Milan.
Quinta Patino Home, Portugal
A home that could otherwise come across as a bit cold and sterile, given its boxy shape and gray facade, is livened up significantly by a number of beautiful green walls, some located in an interior courtyard.
Musee du Quai Branly, Paris
A controversial new landmark for Paris, Jean Nouvel’s Musee du Quai Branly, is certainly unlike anything else that can be found within the city. The exterior is covered in a lush, jungle-like proliferation of greenery covering more than 650 feet. The architect used Patrick Blanc’s Vertical Garden System, which consists of a PVC layer, felt and a metal frame.
Te Mirumiru Grass-Roofed Building, New Zealand
Traditional Maori architecture is married with contemporary aesthetics in the Te Mirumiru building in New Zealand, by Collingridge and Smith Architects. The structure was built partially underground to honor the Maori tradition of being closer to Mother Earth, creating undulating green surfaces on three sides of the building.
World’s Largest Living Wall, Milan
Officially the world’s largest living wall, this amazing vertically vegetated surface at Milan’s Il Fiordaliso shopping center spans 13,594 square feet. Greeting visitors as they approach the building, the green wall was planted in sections that fit together like Legos, making it easy to maintain.
Omotenashi House, Japan
One standout structure at the 2012 Solar Decathlon in Madrid, a collegiate design competition, was the Omotenashi House. Submitted by students from Chiba University in Japan, the house represents an innovative approach for a low-carbon future using vacuum-insulated wall, ceiling and window panels to improve thermal insulation and made of green materials like recycled wood and plastics. The home has 460 solar panels on the roof and also features wires strung from the roofline to the ground as support for greenery, which can shade the structure and provide privacy.
I-Bank, Thessaloniki, Greece
Greece is full of vertical greenery, with many homes boasting planters built into the exterior walls, especially in courtyards. But this wall at the I-Bank store of the National Bank of Greece was the city of Thessaloniki’s first real green wall. Installed by Vita Verde in August 2011, the vertical garden provides a relaxing space for employees and clients to take a break.
Canopea Vertical Farm Concept
Individual small homes are stacked on top of each other and surrounded with gardens in the beautiful Canopea Vertical Farm Concept, presented at Solar Decathlon Europe 2012. This would make it easy to maintain the structure, removing and replacing each unit as necessary.
Eneco Headquarters, The Netherlands
Not only is the exterior of the Dutch Energy Company Eneco’s new Rotterdam headquarters partially covered in greenery, but the inside features several vertical gardens that stand out even more given the nearly all-white design. The result is that of a peaceful oasis, keeping employees in a relaxed state of mind and feeling close to nature.
Hotel Gaia, Colombia
Hotel Gaia in Colombia features an astonishing 8-story vertical garden packed with 25,000 plants in various colors and textures for a tapestry-like effect. 40 percent of the plants on the building are native to Colombia.
Tantalo Hotel, Panama City
The Tantalo Hotel in Panama City is another example of how a single high-impact green wall can completely transform the feel of a space, particularly modern, monochromatic interiors where it can provide a lot of contrast.
Corus Quay, Toronto
Alongside an envy-inducing three-story indoor slide, a towering five-story dual-sided indoor green wall makes the Corus Quay building in Toronto a beautiful and fun place to work. Both are located in the building’s five-story atrium, which brings in lots of natural daylight.
Capella Garcia Green Wall, Barcelona
Trailing vines stream down a set of tiered balconies in this addition to Barcelona’s renowned architecture by Capella Garcia Arquitectura. When an adjacent building was torn down, it wasn’t exactly aesthetically pleasing. The architects brought in a freestanding 21-meter-tall galvanized steel frame with an interior set of stairs for maintenance and nesting boxes for birds. Now that the plants have taken hold and begun to cover it, the wall adds a huge shot of nature to this urban metropolis.