Meet The Chamber Of Commerce For The Shire

Vertical gardens are all the rage these days in Europe — or, at least, in a few select places in Europe. Just last month we brought you word that visitors flooding into Milan for Fashion Week would have a chance to check out the world’s largest vertical garden, which adorns the Centro Commerciale Fiordaliso, a shopping center in Rozzano. Now, we bring you the vertical garden that graces the new Picardy Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry building in Amiens, France.

The project seems to pose a unique solution to a historical building question — specifically, how do you extend a 100-year-old Art Nouveau building in such a way that the new addition doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb? The answer arrived at by Chartier-Corbasson Architectes, apparently, was to clad the whole of this new addition in greenery.

Picardy Chamber of Commerce and Industry

image via Inhabitat / Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

Inhabitat reports that two office spaces separated by a central atrium rise up from this foliage, which helps to create a natural extension between the new offices, the historic Hôtel Bouctôt Vagniez and the surrounding gardens. The new extension’s ground floor spills out into a Japanese-style garden that appears to climb right up the north facade of the building, via a similar selection of plant species. Large windows — including one constructed in kind of vertical bay-style — poke out through the green stuff, creating a kind of modernist-meet-Hobbit-hollow look.

Picardy Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry

image via Inhabitat / Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

The southern facade of the new building is clad in punched-out sheets of red metal that serve its overall design in a number of ways. First, by providing a solar screen that helps to protect interior spaces from undue heat gain due to sunlight. Second, by helping to facilitate natural ventilation, as they allow those within the building to open windows without letting a lot of heat in during the summer months. And third, by helping to create a sense of privacy for those who work within the Picardy Chamber of Commerce.

Despite these thoughtful modern touches, you might not guess that this new building — which, thanks to its greenery, looks as old as the hills — would house a 189-seat auditorium in the basement. (Probably not an option, we imagine, in the Shire.)

The city of Amiens is only home to around 136,000 souls. But nearly every city stands to benefit from improving its air quality, so we imagine that local residents would be happy to know that vertical gardens such as this one have been found to have even more of a beneficial effect on local air quality than trees. Specifically, a recent study from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany found that green walls of climbing plants located in those areas where concentrations of pollutants were highest had exponentially more effect on improving local air quality than green roofs or plants grown in parks.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.