It’s well-documented that plants are good for people. Not only do they serve as natural air filters, absorbing harmful toxins from the oxygen we inhale, but they simply make us happier, too. A study conducted in Japan determined that “forest therapy” decreased participants’ cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate. And Danish researchers have concluded that children who grow up surrounded by greenery are 55% less susceptible to developing mental health concerns later on in adolescence and adulthood.
Recently, in an effort to populate cities with more green spaces, architecture and urbanism practice MVRDV debuted designs for a Green Villa, a four-story, “mixed-use” tower along the Dommel River in the Dutch village of Sint-Michielsgeste.
Imagined as a hybrid office and residential building, Green Villa’s facade is completely covered in potted plants. The building’s ground floor will house the offices of Stein, a real estate developer, and the next three levels are reserved for apartments. Construction of Green Villa is set to begin sometime in 2020, and it’s designed in partnership with Van Boven Architecten, the project’s developer.
MVRDV is widely known for its fresh approach to mixed-used design. It has also started to embrace sustainability as a central part of its practice, with proposals for a Parisian apartment building that doubles as a greenhouse and a town made of hill-like buildings. If realized, Green Villa will be the first of the firm’s designs to feature plants embedded in the building itself. Green Villa’s unique exterior, a gridded rack system of deep shelves to hold the foliage, is expected to have pine and birch trees and shrubs like forsythias and jasmine.
In an effort to educate the public (and Green Villa’s future tenants) about sustainability, this green building would also house a plant and tree library, with every featured plant species’ name and profile. Stored rainwater would be recycled to nourish the front-facing plants year-round.
The Green Villa is hardly the first to embed plants into its architecture. Other plant-filled buildings have sprouted up over the past few years, in places like Milan and Switzerland. These vertical jungles, which host over 100 species of plants and are topped with verdant roof gardens, indicate a bright future ahead for forest therapy in the middle of the concrete jungle.