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How the Plant-Covered Residential Tower Is Slowly Spreading Across the Globe

These green structures are going up around the world.

Thomas Heatherwick Eden Singapore Hufton Crow

Vertical living has its perks, but a lofty residence can leave occupants feeling disconnected from the natural world below. The luxury garden tower helps remedy this, as the model integrates trees and plants into the balconies of individual condos to create a more natural, harmonious home.

Designer Thomas Heatherwick seems to be all in. The Brit’s first completed residential project is a 22-story greenhouse, dubbed Eden (sans serpents, one hopes), in the heart of Singapore’s most coveted district. Part premium pad, part Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the building features floor-through apartments, each with three wavy terraces awash in flora. But the superlative residence is, not surprisingly, the penthouse, which occupies a sprawling 3,000 square feet, with light streaming in from all three leafy balconies. Located on the 22nd level, it has the best views—and, at 16 feet, the best ceiling height—in the house.

Thomas Heatherwick Eden Singapore

The airy interior of an apartment in Thomas Heatherwick’s Eden project.  Hufton Crow

Of course, Heatherwick isn’t the only one with a big green idea. In Beverly Hills, developers Alagem Capital and Cain International are hatching a $2 billion plan that involves 4.5 acres of botanical gardens, a luxury hotel and two biophilic residential buildings. The project isn’t expected to wrap until 2024, so details on the 300-plus residences remain scarce, but it’s certain the environmentally conscious mindset won’t end at the garden balconies: The condo towers will apply for LEED Platinum certification.

In Brisbane, Australia, Koichi Takada Architects, a firm best known for designing the undulating gift shop at the National Museum of Qatar, is planning a similar approach for its column of plants. Dubbed Urban Forest, the finished product will consist of 324 units. The brief here is to go as lush as possible, so the 30-story building will fit a veritable jungle of 20,000 plants onto its staggered balconies, including 1,000 trees. The neighbors will be positively green with envy.

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