Why Plant Columns?
The plant columns are not the typical landscape architecture project. They are located inside a building and are not exposed to the natural environment. Nevertheless, they deal with basic instruments of landscape design. How do we perceive space, how is the relationship of objects and space, how do we react to plants and what is the influence of plants growing over time to our work. People keep plants in their homes to enjoy them since a very long time. From the baroque orangeries to the Sansevierias on our grandmother windowsill, plants satisfy our longing for nature in our homes and working spaces.
In the new research building, the Innovation Center of Givaudan Switzerland, the 12m tall and 50cm wide, self-standing and earthquake prove, plant columns are of great importance. Due to their location and their height, they are visible not only horizontally but also perceived vertically from every corner of the building and help with the orientation within the building. The uncontrolled growth of plants and the randomness of living organism contrasts with the clear and precise, but static lines of architecture. They bring nature into the building. Their presence has a positive influence on humans. Their evaporation improves the indoor climate, reduces CO2, enriches the air with oxygen and absorbs harmful pollutants. In the highly technical environment of the research laboratories, these plant columns represent the source of raw materials for all of Givaudan’s research activities; nature. But they also stand for the fragility and vulnerability of natural ecosystems to the influence of humans and create sensitivity to a careful use of our natural resources.
Why so many different Plants?
For the plant columns, plants with different growth strategies are used to achieve the best possible results in terms of density and green, right from the very beginning. Climbing plants grow along the column surface and form the first green layer. Plants with a tuft-like growth create dense plant carpets and form local accents through different shapes and colors of their leaves. This is the second layer of green. The third layer of green is formed by hanging plants. With their long tendrils they cover quickly large areas and give the plant columns a dynamic structure. All plants are carefully chosen to cope with difficult environmental conditions. The large amount of different plants species ensures a strong mix. Possible losses of individual plants are compensated by growth of neighbouring plants to take over their place. The aim is to create a plant-community, which is self-regulated and compensates for small disturbances as much as possible.
How is a Plant Column built?
A planting column consists of a base plate, a foot segment, intermediate segment and a closing segment. All segments are 1.50m tall and designed as self- containing units. They are placed on top of each other and bolted together. Water pipes and power cables for irrigation are located in the centrally located rising pipe. Excess water runs through drainage into the sewage system of the building. This segmentation has the advantage that the columns can be pre-planted and disassembled at any time if necessary. Each column segment is equipped with an individual irrigation system which prevents possible pathogens form spreading through the irrigation water to lower parts of the column.
Why is there a need for additional lighting?
Light is usually the most important growth-defining factor for plants, especially in the winter months. An insufficient supply of light causes damages to the plants and promotes the spread of diseases and pests. With additional lighting, the entire spectrum range of light required for growth is available to the plants in a sufficient intensity.
The illumination designed by “lightsphere”, Lichtplanung Zurich, which received the LIT design Award for horticulture lighting, were developed and built especially for the Givaudan plant columns.
In conclusion, the plant columns are a unique and innovative way to let nature “invade” the otherwise highly controlled and maintained building by creating an impressive green feature which contributes greatly to a healthy work environment.
Name of the project: Pflanzsäulen
Project category (Public Project, Infrastructure, Residential housing park, Private garden, Hospitality): Infrastructure
Role of the entrant in the project: Designer of the plant columns
Project location: Kemptthal, Switzerland
Design year: 2015-2017
Year Built: 2018-2019
Client: Givaudan Switzerland, Site Kemptthal
Architectur: Bauart Architekten und Planer AG, Zürich
Landscape architecture plant column: Schrämmli | Landschaftsarchitektur, Brugg | Zürich
Construction manager: Demmel Bauleitungen + Beratungen, Wangen
Light designer: Lightsphere GmbH, Zürich