The name “flower tower” is somewhat misleading because bamboo has no flowers. The many reasons behind the name of this particular residential building are the 380 pots in which bamboo was planted. The building, social housing, set in the suburbs of Paris with its’ protruding balcony edges surrounding the 10 stories of the building make it a showcase for green architecture. The architect, Edward Francois, who began with the addition of greening in his buildings, has, with the Flower Tower, built a clear symbol in 2004 of green building. The inventive ways in which Parisians green their French balconies was the inspiration behind this radical gesture. The 1-meter-high prefabricated concrete pots were set into the concrete structure. The steel balusters, each separately anchored to the floors, support the water systems for the plants.
Francois calls the mix of concrete and green a matter of Yin and Yang, a succinct description of biotopical construction.
The Flower Tower does not only soften the view from the 30 homes to the other tall buildings, it also offers a slight murmur from the narrow hard bamboo stalks being gently blown by the wind. The city noise mixes with natural sound. It must be somewhat odd to get into the elevator from the street (there is no hall!) and then arrive at an apartment surrounded in greenery.
The use of outdoor space may be severely limited by the “pottery,” but it would seem to be a standard practice of the Parisians.
The building blends in as an anchor for the park at the foot of the tower, which was specifically, designed fro this purpose.
In the many commentaries on this iconic building, I found a telling observation:
The primitive hut architecture of Laugier is a translation of petrified nature. Architects continue to be inspired by natural forms. Modern design techniques enable them to graft nature into increasingly sophisticated structures. Here Francois is not inspired by nature but nature itself as an integral part of the building: by draping a green jacket around it.
Another reference to the potted plant can be found in the way the concrete was poured: the concrete trucks with light and dark gray concrete drove up pouring concrete in a random order, and the result is an irregular layering of facades reminiscent of the formation of soil layers, easily seen in glass planters.
The agreement stipulated that there would be one pot free for each apartment allowing the tenant the choice of any plant they wished to have. There is not much to see of that, which yields a final image of a top-down aesthetic image, a built pamphlet. In that sense, it works fantastically. There should also be residents who simply let the choice of plant(s) be taken out of their hands. But that’s another story.
Übersetzung: Helga Fassbinder. Photos: Harrie van Helmond, Helga Fassbinder,