Run-of-the-mill planters are typically boxy constructs using off-the-shelf components, serviceable but not much to look at. That's why this lovely plant habitat by New York state-based architecture firm asensio_mah and students from Harvard Graduate School of Design caught our eye. Shown earlier this year at Toronto's Canada Blooms horticultural exposition, the idea behind this unique structure was to create different surfaces for different types of plants to grow.
The installation was an extensive garden that unwraps and twists to create larger garden “pockets” while simultaneously providing an undulating surface that embeds a secret micro garden within its thickness.
Garden parcels are located in the spaces created in between the unfolding surfaces, while smaller micro moss gardens are located within the thickness of the surfaces themselves, inviting visitors to interact with gardens of different scales throughout the installation.
In addition to micro-gardens within a larger garden, the different angles and placement of the boxes creates a system of different microclimates, making us wonder what might happen if a design like this is used for food production; there would be a lot of favorable, permacultural "edge" conditions that could boost biodiversity and productivity:
The surface itself unwraps to achieve many tasks, defining and framing protected planter spaces, creating multiple orientations for the moss garden, casting shade, while also forming a twisted surface that undulates while structurally stabilizing itself.
With this approach, it's almost like the planters themselves become alive, gradually blooming open to reveal a garden of delights. More over at asensio_mah and Harvard GSD; more on other displays (this one uses old pallets) from Canada Blooms.