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    Vertical Gardens

    by Jean Nouvel

    About 15 years ago, I met an uncommon and fascinating man. His solid reputation as a scientist and researcher preceded him, a living encyclopedia on plants worldwide — growing in severe and difficult conditions, deprived of light in the shadows of tall trees (where, in contrast to the old saying, there is always something growing), or deprived of nutrients among rocks... Here was a man who was familiar with strolling the Amazon forests and riding under the canopy on a raft.

    This was thanks to Hervé Chandès, the director of the Cartier Foundation. In the framework of an exhibit, "Being Nature," he had had the unique idea of considering this biology professor as an artist.

    His intuition was proven correct, since Patrick Blanc — the Green Man — has drawn results from his endless observations. The process that he created allows flowers, mosses, vines, shrubs, and other plants to grow without soil, along the face of a wall. They attach their roots to a mesh-covered felt soaked with mineralized water.   >>>

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

    This article is excerpted from The Vertical Garden by Patrick Blanc, copyright © 2008, with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton.

     

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    ArchWeek Image

    At the Cartier Foundation building, designed by Jean Nouvel, Patrick Blanc created a vertical garden over the entryway, with temperate plants growing outside and tropical species inside.
    Photo: Véronique Lalot Extra Large Image

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    At Phang Nga Bay in southern Thailand, plants cling to a karstic massif outcropping.
    Photo: Jiashiang Wang Extra Large Image

     

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