Located in front of the Harmoni Transjakarta busway shelter in Central Jakarta, one building looks quite different from its neighbors.
Its walls and balconies are covered by a vast variety of small, verdant plants. Only the windows are visible from the busy Jl. Hayam Wuruk.
The office of Indonesia Greenwall is one of several buildings and houses in Jakarta that make use of vertical gardening systems as an alternative to the limited horizontal space on the ground.
“The building itself has become a showroom for what vertical gardening can achieve. It shows everyone who is interested in helping make the city greener what can be done with technology and imagination,” Decky Rinawan of Indonesia Greenwall said.
The building was erected in 1983, but not until last year did it become a wall of living plant life. In October, the building underwent a complete makeover so it could better accommodate the hanging garden of Harmoni.
Plants enforest 339 square meters of office wall, much more than its garden on the ground which takes up only around 60 square meters.
In conventional gardening, every square meter usually accommodates around five plants. But vertical gardening makes it possible for gardeners to grow 20 plants on every square meter of land.
Slamet Budianto from Godongijo, a company that works on vertical gardening projects, said that for plants to be grown on a vertical surface, gardeners must know the appropriate materials that can substitute the functions of soil. “We need material that can substitute soil, that is light and durable,” he said.
People could also grow plants in levels by providing shelves made of wood or bamboo, he said, adding that they could also choose any shape they like: rectangular, triangular and ladder-like structures.
Besides growing decorative plants, the vertical planting system is also suitable for growing medicinal herbs. Various vegetables, such as mustard greens, spinach and chilies are suitable for hot areas like Jakarta.
Slamet said that for irrigation, vertical gardening used an integrated irrigation system that could be automatically set by the gardener.
“Although it’s easy to make them, not many buildings or houses in Jakarta have vertical gardens yet. But more buildings will adopt them in years to come,” Slamet said.
In Jakarta, there are dozens of buildings which have used the system, including the Bank Indonesia Museum, the Skye Restaurant in Central Jakarta, and the Tempo Scan Tower in South Jakarta.
Jakarta’s Green Map coordinator Nirwono Joga said that ecologically, vertical gardens play a great role in turning a polluted city into a healthier city. But to some extent, they could never replace the function of horizontal green space.
“More vertical gardens mean fresher air. The city will also look greener and more beautiful. But vertical gardens cannot replace conventional gardens or parks that function as water catchment areas,” he said.
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