Designed to test the effects of the urban environment on horticulture, G(u)arden is a first of Urban vertical garden to test the effect of urban environment on vertical farming. It is an experimental research project by a group of urban planners, designers, and environmental and natural science specialists. Urban vertical gardens are a great solution to reduce air pollution, collect the runoff water, and utilizes it efficiently. They also adhere to the city heat and keep the environment cool, occupying the unused chamfered spaces in a city.
G (U) A R D E N
Urban Vertical Garden by Annvil
G(u)arden is the first vertical garden project installed by the design studio Annvil adjacent to their own office based in Kalnciema Quarter, Riga, Latvia in the year of 2020. The studio, in collaboration with scientists, aimed to identify the effects of air pollution on the food grown in cities. Addressing the increasing pressure on rural farmlands, the vertical garden can help serve the purpose to cultivate edible plants within the city walls and is a more sustainable solution as it reduces transportation costs.
This vertical garden is laid with an array of brightly colored planters from local horticulture centers and nurseries. The plants are placed on platforms supported by a staggered, multi-level scaffold structure built adjacent to a heavy traffic road in Riga. The attempt to design a vertical garden accompanied by local plants intends to encourage the residents to grow within their communities and to conserve natural resources by eliminating the stress on the farms and eliminating the idea of migration of products.
Anna Bates, the founder of Annvil took up this argumentative approach to deviate the attention of people from their screens and towards a green physical world. In this digital world where the pace of evolution has increased many notches, she aims to build an environment that promotes engagement amongst different groups of society. The stacked green structure also depicts an escape from the urban jungle and provides an opportunity to be close to nature.
G(u)arden is a pilot project to expand it to neglected environments that can eventually bring a noticeable shift in the city’s air pollution, physical environment, and urban aesthetics. The long term goal of this experimental vertical garden is to identify all possible risk factors associated with the impact of the urban environment on edible plants cultivated within it. The studio also partnered with a research lab to study the harvested crops and the impact of the local air and water and measure the effects of being bred in presence of heavy metals.
As mentioned by a project team member, Irina Sivicka, ‘In Latvia, there is a lack of scientifically based research on the biochemical composition of vegetables and fruits grown out in the open in the urban environment and their safety in terms of being used for food.’ Only the data obtained in the laboratory can help determine the correlation between the degree of pollution and the number of harmful substances found in vegetables grown in urban plantations. The intense traffic and air pollution of Riga make it pertinent to the study.
The vertical garden was designed to encourage discussions regarding the need for more green spaces within the city and to develop a sustainable green environment. G(u)arden acts as an initial prototype that intends to start a dialogue amongst the residents to promote a more effective urban environment closer to nature.