Enlisted to renovate an apartment in Manhattan's East Village, architects Melissa Baker and Jon Handley, partners at the firm pulltab design, took inspiration from the city's plethora of community gardens, and their client's love of verdant spaces. The architects worked with a series of custom stainless steel armatures designed to hold modular and custom planted cells. The cells, carefully grown by local garden specialist John Mini, took four months of greenhouse nurturing before they were ready for installation. Integral to the design is a low water trough under the garden wall, which collects runoff from the wall’s irrigation system. The trough has a full filtration system and is stocked with several goldfish and aquatic plants. Here, Handley takes us through the process of creating and installing the indoor green wall.
To prepare the walls for the vertical garden, the architects installed a waterproof membrane and a copper drip edge on the wall, to prevent water infiltration from the irrigation system.
The steel trough was custom fabricated by Matt Crane of Silvercrane. Since the trough was too large for the elevator or stair, it was boomed in through the owner’s third floor window.
Here, the water trough awaits an application of Pond Armor to seal the metal and protect the fish.
The steel armature was designed by the architects to carry the plant modules, which will be hung from the frame.
After the armature is installed, the copper flashing receives a custom patina to help it blend in with the surrounding materials.
The cells arrive. Planted by John Mini, a local garden specialist, each cell was kept in a greenhouse for four months, allowing the plants to grow into and fill out their individual module.
The modules are secured to the steel armature and can be individually removed for maintenance if necessary.
Custom cells were fabricated for the corner conditions.
Each cell interlocks to form a continuously planted surface.
The architects worked closely with the general contractor MW Construction to refine the details on site, often sketching on pieces of leftover sheetrock.
The architects spent several days wandering local Manhattan greenmarkets refining the plant selections.
A Styrofoam mockup was created to allow the architects and owners to get an idea of what the completed installation would look like.
The completed garden wall and water trough frames the client's breakfast area and walnut-paneled study. Photo by Elizabeth Felicella.
The garden wall creates an inviting background, visually connecting the inside space to the surrounding community gardens. Photo by Elizabeth Felicella.