Sydney’s One Central Park’s ‘living walls’ were recognised at the international Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) Tall Building Awards, it was one of the three international finalists in Innovation category.

Previously announced by the same council as the Best Tall Building in Australasia, this time it was One Central Park’s innovative living walls, designed by Frenchman Patrick Blanc, that were the focus for recognition.

The council recognised the projects use of unusual technologies for tall buildings as an innovation forecasting the future for large scale developments. 

“One Central Park uses two unusual technologies for tall buildings – hydroponics and heliostats – to grow plants around the periphery of the building at all levels,” said the council.

“The project presages a future in which biomimicry is no longer a radical concept in architecture, while inverting a perception that tall buildings can only block light and rob the urban environment of natural greenery.”


‘BioSkin’, a system of water-filled ceramic pipes that cools the exterior surface of buildings and their surrounding micro-climates, was eventually named the winner of the 2014 Innovation Award, beating Patrick Blanc’s Living Walls and ‘Active Alignment’, a design element used on London’s Leadenhall building.

The BioSkin was first used by Nikken Sekkei architects on the NBF Osaki building in Tokyo. Based on the traditional Japanese practice of uchimizu, BioSkin absorbs heat through rainwater evaporation through a fine filigree of porous tubes. This system mitigates the urban heat island effect by cooling the building as well as its immediate surroundings. 

“This is a remarkable façade solution, both in its concept and how it has been beautifully detailed,” said David Scott, Jury Chair and a director at the Engineering Excellence Group at Laing O’Rourke, London, UK.

“I look forward to seeing this being proven by measurement. It is elegantly and delicately detailed, and it is quite outstanding, as it is combined with many other innovations in this remarkable building.”



Images: Nikken Sekkei architects

The One Central Park building will now compete for the CTBUH Best Tall Building World Wide title, to be announced in November.

It will be up against other regional winners including:

  • Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building by Cutler Anderson Architects  - Portland USA (Americas region)
  • De Rotterdam by Office for Metropolitan Architecture  - Rotterdam Netherlands (Europe region)
  • Cayan Tower by Skidmore Owings & Merrill -  Dubai, UAE (Middle East & Africa region) 

More on One Central Park’s ‘Living Walls’

Central to the 1200sqm vertical garden design at One Central Park is Blanc’s insistence that plants do not need soil to grow provided they have something to attach themselves to. Light, carbon dioxide water and nutrients are mechanically dispersed to the plants and facilitate their growth and survival.

This approach eliminates the need for soil, making it possible for 35,000 plants to grow on buildings without compromising the structural integrity of the building.

See this exclusive interview with locally based One Central Park collaborating architects PTW,   who have described the innovation behind the Living Wall, noting how extraordinary results were achieved with relatively simple material applications. {see video}.