In central Copenhagen a living map of Europe has appeared on the facade of the European Environment Agency (EEA) offices. Designed by architect Johanna Rossbach, with Mangor & Nagel Arkitektirma, the vegetative, custom-fitted screen celebrates the old continent’s biodiversity, with plants arranged according to their respective regional origins.
Reflecting a burgeoning trend toward living facades in urban contexts, the forward-thinking project stresses the use of indigenous species when choosing to ‘green’ the urban environment, an essential step toward the preservation of local ecologies.
The installation at the European Environment Agency offices in Kongens Nytorv, in central Copenhagen, has been designed by the architect Johanna Rossbach. It marks the UN International Year of Biodiversity, and is designed as a living facade representing a map of Europe with plants reflecting the relative ecological diversity of different regions.
Hence, in northern Europe where plant species are less abundant, there are plants with hairy and greyish leaves, whilst southern Europe has colourful, luxurious plants, which indicate the relative biological richness of the Mediterranean region. Botanically, the facade flowers at different times, reflecting the seasonal plant cycle.
It is shown here in mid-summer.
The plants grow in a felt pocket mounted on narrow plywood platforms supported by a steel structure hung from the existing stone facade. The Danish climate, with its warm, dry summers, means that a great deal of irrigation is needed to sustain the 5000 plants. Rather than use imported exotics (which is common elsewhere) this installation uses only indigenous species.
A combination of refined steel detailing and living material makes the temporary facade noteworthy irrespective of the underlying political message. Interior daylight is protected by using silkscreen-printed, translucent textiles where existing windows occur. These allow filtered daylight to enter the building whilst maintaining the facade message.
There is growing interest amongst architects and landscape architects in living facades. All surfaces of buildings can contribute towards the greening of cities and hence wider ecological diversity.
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