Cloud Gardens Greenhouse

Green and Grey

Green and grey are the two colours that immediately come to our minds when we visualise green space in a city, and we call this image a ‘sustainable design’. 


Last weekend, I went to Dundas Peak for a short hike to take a break from all my duties and get some fresh air. It’s a human desire to be close to nature, and we do so by imitating and integrating it into our daily life, which we tend to call such practice a ‘sustainable design’. I’ve explored three projects that actually promote sustainability, not just two colours – green and grey.


HIGH LINE, NYC / Urban Park

High Line
Image Courtesy Friends of the High Line

The infamous High Line urban park project was a problematic remnant of New York City’s industrial past. Its remarkable transformation now offers a 2.3km-long linear park elevated from the streets, with access to some cultural buildings such as the Chelsea Market. Although accessible all-year, it is best to visit in spring and summer when countless different types of plants have bloomed and allow you to pleasingly enjoy your stroll.



Cloud Gardens GreenhouseImage Courtesy Ilovetoronto

Greenhouses are not necessarily considered a sustainable design, but one of the first attempts to bring nature indoor, and are normally designed to provide regulated climatic conditions for tropical plants. When I stumbled upon the Cloud Gardens in a busy financial district of Toronto, it was more than just a greenhouse. Situated on Bay and Adelaide, the Cloud Gardens greenhouse was almost an oasis in a desert, a hidden botanical gem between dull glass towers. Although very compact, you can take a quick, quiet break in the middle of a busy day (Alternatively, Allan Gardens is a larger botanical garden of Toronto that’s also definitely worth a visit).


CORUS QUAY, Toronto / Living Wall

Corus Quay
Image Courtesy Richard Johnson

As you walk in from the main entrance, the two things you notice are a) an indoor slide, and b) a living bio-wall. A five-storey tall green bio-wall isn’t simply about bringing nature into indoor and our daily life, but it is designed to improve the indoor air quality by absorbing VOCs and providing clean air in return, and brighten the overall atmosphere in a fast-paced working space by adding green, lively features.


Sustainability is at the core of design, not only to improve the quality of daily life (e.g. air quality), but to mitigate environmental issues and concerns. What other ways are there to incorporate sustainability into built works to appreciate nature more? Check out Studio Jonah’s Miami Floating Stage proposal that integrates sustainable energy initiative.