IT’S the glamour apartment complex where the plants outside the windows will be as upwardly mobile as the residents. At the Andreasens Green wholesale nursery in Lansvale, 30,000 shrubs, which will soon form the world’s tallest vertical garden, are already being grown, horizontally to adorn the vertiginous facades of the new One Central Park complex.
A further 70,000 or so plants, totalling nearly 360 exotic and native species, are being cultivated at several locations around Australia. The shrubs at Lansvale, in Sydney’s south-west, are destined for two dozen ”green wall” panels, some as high as 16-storeys, which will be attached to the north and south facades of the development’s east and west towers facing Broadway.
The vertical garden is the brainchild of the renowned French artist-botanist Patrick Blanc, in collaboration with Central Park’s architect, the France’s Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Jean Nouvel. Keith Stead, a landscape architect with Aspect Oculus in Sydney, is a member of the team working with Blanc.
”Something like this has never been done on this scale,” he said of the $2 billion project under construction at Broadway, Chippendale. ”It has to be one of Patrick Blanc’s biggest installations and it must be interesting for him to be doing a project of this scale in Australia, especially since he’s chosen some unusual native plants.”
The chosen shrubs, from Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria and NSW, are designed to spill over planter boxes or climb up cables, creating a calming ”green screen” in the middle of the inner city. Species include varieties of red, pink and purple bougainvillea, dwarf bottle brushes, with deep-red flowers, and vine species with flowers in whites, reds, yellows and purples.
The 110-metre-high One Central Park apartment and retail complex, on the former Carlton and United brewery site, is due for completion next year. The dramatic greening process should begin between October and February, when the plants will be brought to the site from their various nurseries.
In addition to Blanc’s signature green walls, 2700 planter boxes, containing a special mix of durable soil, have already been installed and are awaiting tens of thousands of shrubs. Between the more exclusive levels 29 to 33 of the complex’s east tower, residents will enjoy their own private lushly planted cantilevered Sky Garden that juts from the facade.
Stead says Aspect Oculus has tested individual shrubs destined for the facades in a St Peters wind tunnel laboratory in order to assess their suitability to Sydney’s variable climate. Stead says it was the first time the laboratory had tested plants.
In their unusually elevated and exposed positions, the plants will need to be able to withstand Sydney’s gusty and gale-force winds, occasional heatwaves and relatively high levels of humidity. To this end, Aspect Oculus has drawn up a colour-coded plan of the facades with different ”zones of exposure”, based on wind and sun levels, that will guide where each plant should best be planted.
”The biggest challenge has just been working out how to get this much greenery on a building, and making sure that it will grow and thrive,” Stead said.
Of course, maintenance will be a factor in Central Park’s vertical garden being a blooming success, with all planted areas to be meticulously maintained by the owners’ corporation. A hydroponic system will automatically water and fertilise the vertical garden, which Stead promises has been designed not to gush on to those below.
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