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Patrick Blanc, Vertical Garden Pioneer

Patrick Blanc is a botanical visionary like no other. From a young age on he dedicated his life to the vast diversity of plants, starting in his teens when he experimented by building biological plant filters for his aquarium. Later the Parisian studied tropical botany, scouted through the rainforests around the world and researched the growth habits of plants. One of his most important insights was that plants don’t really need soil to grow healthy. A huge number of plants thrive perfectly fine in nature on vertical surfaces without earth or any solid substrate. Only water with minerals, light and carbon dioxide are essential for photosynthesis.  

Blanc applied his knowledge about vegetation to his vision of a vertical garden; if plants can grow on sandstone and in caves, why not on man-made walls? His invention is a system that consists of a metal framework, a PVC layer and a layer of felt. The rot-proof textile absorbs water and the plant’s roots can grow on it. Blanc’s first projects in the 1980s were very successful and he patented his ideas in 1988 and 1996. He was celebrated by garden experts and artists alike and since then he is regarded as a fusion of a gardener, an artist and an architect. Nowadays he designs and builds vertical gardens all over the world, from San Francisco to Tokyo.

In this increasingly urbanized world nature is in a constant retreat. The fixing of plants onto the outsides of buildings is not only done for visual effects: Vegetation is becoming more and more important for the well-being of the city dwellers. It cleans the air from toxic pollutants and saves energy by providing protection from the hot sun in the summer and insulation from the cold in the winter.

In Sydney, Patrick Blanc is now working on his masterpiece: The 166 meter tall multi-functional tower complex One Central Park will have the biggest vertical garden in the world on its outer structures. Hundreds of species of native and exotic plants will flow down the walls like a green waterfall. Together with a LED installation by acclaimed light artist Yann Kersalé, the building will change the skyline of the Australian metropolis in a spectacular way. The One Central Park is scheduled to open next year.

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