Integrating plants into building designs for aesthetic and environmental purposes has become very popular. For example, green roofs have become more common in Europe and North America as a way to reduce the urban heat island effect and add some Nature back into the city.
French architect Edouard Francois has taken the 'green' element a bit further with his innovative Flower Tower apartment building in Paris. Wishing to integrate this 10-story, concrete building with the surrounding park, Francois designed 380 large containers to sit on the balconies of the apartments. Each container is filled with fast-growing bamboo and has an automatic watering and fertilizing system to support it. The effect is a building that looks like it's sprouting bamboo. Not only does it make the apartments more livable and desirable, the greenery provides natural shade, cooling, and privacy for the residents. The building is a good example of using green design to make low-cost housing more attractive and environmentally sound.
For more on the Flower Tower and other projects by Edouard Francois, go to the press section of Edouard Francois and click on TowerFlower_Press_Guardian.doc.