An interesting idea that’s been becoming popular in urban planning is that of vertical gardens. Gardens are planted above traffic on plinths, or on walls to create a solid green space in an area in which space is at a premium. There are two primary types: green walls, which are walls created with plants, and green façades which have greenery covering the underlying structure.
I’d read about such walls before, such as the impressive Musee de Quai Branly, but hadn’t seen any before a trip to the French Concession of Shanghai last Spring. There, I saw two walls which had been changed into gardens. One had patterns and swirls created on it through the use of different plants and thoughtful placement, whilst the other was solidly planted with ferns. They created dynamic, and unexpected, green areas in the midst of a busy city.
I was interested in reading about the effect on pollution that large vertical gardens have had in Mexico City, and how they can be used as an energy saving tool when planted against the sides of buildings. Of course, there are complications involved in growing anything up a skyscraper, but there are clear benefits as well. In Portland, Oregon, a fifty story skyscraper is being considered as a canvas for such a garden whilst green walls are being encouraged in Melbourne as a way of increasing green spaces in the city, as well as a method to fight pollution and enrich neighbourhoods visually.
If these innovations take root (if you’ll pardon the pun), the cityscapes as we know them could be altered permanently. A green-covered urban space would no longer be the province of dystopian novels or films, but that of ecologically sound city planners and residents.