As cities become denser and buildings continue to shoot up, the number of gardens is also on the rise – literally.

The vertical garden is not a new concept, but in recent times it has certainly become more popular. Referring to a wall partially or completely covered with vegetation, a vertical garden includes a growing medium, such as soil, and usually features an integrated water delivery system.

‘Invented’ by Patrick Blanc, the emergence of more and more vertical gardens is in direct response to the growing population in cities.

“The amount of space in these cities is increasingly at a premium, so vertical gardens can provide a welcome oasis,” Blanc tells The Wall Street Journal.  

“There is also a growing alarm about things like climate change and deforestation so anything that evokes nature is becoming increasingly sacred.”

This certainly rings true for Australia, where a draft policy by the City of Sydney is calling on residents and businesses to green their roofs and walls as a way of improving air quality, supporting biodiversity, and creating new spaces in the heart of the city for food production and relaxation.

There is at least 96,000sqm of green rooftops and walls across the city of Sydney – roughly equal to 230 basketball courts. The City furthermore receives around one new development application that includes a green roof or wall each week.

To date, Sydney's most popular vertical garden is probably One Central Park.

One Central Park by architect Jean Nouvel and Patrick Blanc


Located in Sydney, residential tower One Central Park has been billed as the world’s tallest vertical garden. Botanist and garden designer Patrick Blanc sheathed two 380 feet tall buildings in green, with plants and vines climbing up the building’s glass façade.

The greenery is meant to extend the nearby park onto the buildings, creating a verdant district that replicates the natural cliffs of the Blue Mountains. Altogether, there are 450 different types of plants, 250 of which are local species.

Image: James D. Morgan / Rex Features, courtesy

The building is specifically designed to redirect light to parts of the vertical garden. The tallest tower features a large cantilever, with a heliostat of motorised mirrors underneath that direct sunlight down onto the surrounding gardens. After nightfall, the cantilever is used as a canvas for a LED light installation by artist Yann Kersalé

Clearpoint Tower by Milroy Perera Associates and Maga Engineering

Looking to give One Central Park a run for its money is the Clearpoint Tower by Milroy Perera Associates and Maga Engineering in Sri Lanka, which is set to be the world’s tallest vertical garden.

The 46 storey building will be entirely covered in foliage so that not an inch of the glass surface will be exposed to direct sunlight, therefore minimising solar heat gain and acting as a natural cooling system.

The plants will also act as sound and heat buffers, and are expected to provide cleaner air. The vertical garden will be watered using an automated drip irrigatin system that saves water and works independently from the occupants.

One Bligh Street, Sydney by Ingenhoven Architekten and Architectus

Also in Sydney, One Bligh Street in the CBD features a 377m2 green wall - the largest vertical green wall in Australia. Fytogreen was commissioned to deliver the project, with the green wall requiring both shade and wind tolerant plant species.

The project was specified by the architect to be ‘uniform green’ with ‘simplicity rather than celebration’ as its theme. The 40 metre long green wall presents its own site challenges due to its solar orientation.


Park Royal on Pickering by WOHA

Winning big at the 2013 World Architecture Festival is WOHA Architects’ Park Royal Hotel in Singapore, a building overrun with gardens, water features and green pathways.

Occupying a long and narrow plot in the city’s CBD, the 12 storey tall building does not strictly have a green wall, but features cascading planter terraces and waterfalls. A ‘C- shaped’ vegetation sits between glass-walled boxes, and the planted, contoured projections give the impression that the park continues up the building. The contoured undulations and vertical green extends into the interior, uniting the indoor and outdoor realms.

Images: Yuka Yoneda, source:

According to WOHA partner Wong Mun Summ, Park Royal had replaced 200 per cent of the green space, therefore acting as precedents for literal green living.

Palacio de Congresos Europa by Urbanarbolismo

The green façade of the Palacio de Congresos Europa in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, was created by Spanish design firm Urbanarbolismo. Embedded into the vertical garden is 33,000 native plants, which range from wetland plant life on the south façade to the vertical orchard at the centre, and plants from the forests in the mountains of Vitoria at the northern end of the building.

A metal rod construction runs across the building’s exterior, branching off at the northern end into streams. This river is lit up by low power LED lights at night, evoking a bird’s eye view of a natural riverbed that highlights the plant life it runs through.



The base of the building consists of benches, where locals can sit among the greenery of the vertical park.