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Review - Book- Vertical Gardens

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Britain simply doesn’t do much vertical gardening, Ruth Slavid discovers

Vertical Gardens: Bringing the City to Life. By Anna Lambertini and Jacques Leenhardt. Thames & Hudson, 2007. 240pp. 39.95

The children’s centre at Paradise Park in north London, designed by DSDHA with landscape architect Marie Clark, is the last project in Vertical Gardens: Bringing the City to Life, and receives some of the most perfunctory coverage. It is also the only British project featured.

This is not merely due to the fact that the authors are based, respectively, in Florence and Paris. Compared to other European countries, we just don’t do much of this stuff. The clue may lie in the special circumstances of the Paradise Park building. Its ‘living wall’ was designed, in part, to compensate for the fact that the building was replacing an area of parkland. With our relatively low-density cities, the UK is rich in parks. Perhaps we just don’t need to do it – at least until we get serious about embracing higher densities. What is fascinating about many of these projects is seeing to what extent architects are willing to cede control and allow the plants to grow in unexpected directions, rampage or die. The trouble with plants is that they’re far less easy to subjugate than steel or concrete.

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