Space is limited in densely packed Japan meaning there is hardly any room remaining for garden space – but one great solution to this constraint is to place gardens right on the exteriors of buildings! Possibly a precursor to Patrick Blanc’s famous living walls, Italian-born architect and artist, Gaetano Pesce designed and built the plant-clad Organic Building in Japan. The exterior of the building is an eye-catching vertical garden that takes its conceptual cues from bamboo.

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Completed in 1993, the Organic Building has since been named a civic landmark by the City of Osaka, which has undertaken its maintenance in perpetuity. The exterior is covered with steel-encased concrete panels glazed with a red finish that feature rather cute extruding pockets. Inside these containers are fiberglass planters that contain more than 80 types of indigenous plants and trees selected in collaboration with Osaka horticulturists, and they are all irrigated via a computer-controlled hydrating system of mechanical pipes.

The Organic Building is Pesce’s most famous structure and features 7,052 square meters of interior space, and nine stories with restaurants and retail on the street with office space above. Qualities of bamboo – “its distinctive verticality, undulating surface, and tendency to grow into a network of interlocking but nonetheless unique spaces” inspired the building’s wavy skin and window placement. The red exterior is also in direct contrast to the surrounding neighborhood’s gray uniformity.

photo credit: Veronica Belmont Flickr