The Rotterdam Stadskantoor is a municipal building undergoing renovations in the Netherlands, but you couldn't tell by looking at its lovely leafy facade! 2012 Architecten won a competition to beautify the in-progress building with a vertical garden mural that creeps up its boarded face. The Dutch design team arranged hundreds of recycled plastic pots previously used in local horticulture projects in tree shapes that sprawl across the broken down bricks. These are then filled with a variety of seasonal plants that are far nicer to look at than the construction materials necessary to upgrade the municipality's office space.
2012 Architecten’s vertical garden, also known as “I’d rather make a forest than a street,” is an innovative way to distract local residents from the necessary two year construction period – a sort of apology that also has great environmental benefits. In addition to recycling the materials necessary to decorate the facade, the designers installed a rainwater capture system with a series of holding tanks in the building’s attic.
A drip irrigation system funnels water from the attic tanks into the potted plants on the building’s exterior, so that waste is almost completely eliminated. Not only that, but the plants absorb carbon dioxide emissions – an estimated 13,000 kg of CO2 is diverted from the atmosphere each year. In an era when function too often trumps aesthetics, this gesture by the municipality of Rotterdam is very special, and 2012 Architecten’s design is sure to be imprinted on the mind’s of passersby for years to come.