— March 8, 2013 —
We unveil our favourite post on AnOther Loves, and interview its contributor
Vertical Garden The power of a bunch of flowers in a room has long been known; they brighten and invigorate, bringing colour and life into the dingiest of places. But in Barcelona, they took the power of plants to a whole new level – tasking an architecture firm to create a living wall of plants, grafted onto the side of a 21-foot building in the centre of the city. This vertical garden, loved by Alex Tieghi-Walker, topped the poll in our latest Loves vote, a highly appropriate winner during AnOther’s celebration of home, linked to the release of the latest issue of AnOther Magazine which centres on the topic.
Richly lush, wilfully tangled and overgrown, this garden was commissioned to fill the space left by a dilapidated building, and is structured around a series of steel platforms, each with space for planters, built-in benches and even fountains. Maintained by a complicated network of irrigation pipes and sprinklers, the living façade is not only a striking visual counterpoint to its urban environment, but also generates oxygen, absorbs pollution and insulates its neighbouring apartments. It is an inspiring example of innovation in city architecture that creates green and fertile spaces in the most unlikely of spaces, rather than as is so often the case, bulldozing them down to fill them with more lifeless concrete blocks.
Here, we speak to Tieghi-Walker about why he loved this garden, and the key items that make his house a home.
Why did you choose to Love this tower of plants?
It's really beautiful and rousing. It's very alive and textured. I think combining plants and buildings in the urban fabric is really important and I'm a fan of overgrown concrete architecture, like the Barbican and so many buildings in Brazil.
Would you like to live there? Which floor would you be on?
I could see myself having a holiday flat in that building, on the penultimate floor because that way you get the plants growing down from above but the best views and the most light. For my full time home I'd definitely rather have a garden or patio space, too, and a little pond for tadpoles.
"Untamed spaces seem to be full of more life and compliment the British rain better because they feel lush and fresh"
Do you garden? What are your favourite things to grow?
I could never live anywhere without its own open, fertile space. On my roof terrace I mainly grow big bushes of herbs like rosemary and bay just because they last all winter too; passion fruit grows up the walls and I've got a long row of potted strawberry bushes. The strawberries taste like sugar cubes when they're ripe. This spring I'm planting courgettes and pumpkins; I love the way their stems and leaves get all knotted and take over everything.
Do you prefer a tangled wilderness or sculpted order?
There's something calming about pristine rows of hedges but I do prefer gardens to be overgrown and wild. Highgate cemetery is an incredible wilderness, especially in spring when the snowdrops and bluebells are out in the woods. Untamed spaces seem to be full of more life and compliment the British rain better because they feel lush and fresh.
What would you wear for a day of graft in the garden?
In summer I'm quite happy just gardening in my Y-fronts, but in winter I wear a thick Aran jumper and dirty jeans; I often go and sit on my roof first thing in the morning and have a little tidy up. I do get all prissy about my hands, though, and wear leather work gloves from Labour and Wait.
Where do you feel most at home?
At my uncle and aunt's house in Richmond. It's totally unchanged since I was a child; in summer there's a beautiful long garden full of mulberry trees and a room full of succulents, and in winter toasty snugs and a delicious collection of heritage bottled beers.
What are three things that make your house a home?
A fully stocked kitchen; kitchens are the centre of any home and should be full of jars and pretty tins, utensils and odd implements for really specific jobs like nutmeg graters and cafetiéres. A pile of books next to the loo; though living with 3 girls means that my pile has become another shelf for perfume bottles, hair clips and cotton wool buds. Plants on every surface, inside and out. To survive, plants take guardianship, so if you invest time in them you're investing it in your home too!
What was the last thing you bought for your house?
A green Alvar Aalto trinket. I collect green glass objects and love the colours of Finnish company Iitala's glassware.