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Modern Architecture and Greening (~ 1920 - today)

In the Bauhaus style of Germany starting around 1920 and the modern architecture movement that followed, facade greening was initially frowned on because it reflected the older garden city style. Bauhaus was all about clearing off the ornamentation and embellishments considered unnecessary or unfunctional (on buildings and otherwise). Minimalism became king. The new ideal favored clear, angularly-cut facades, often without details. Though Bauhaus wanted to reconceive structures for the support of growing social needs and to counteract the momentum of the capitalist machine, the style resulted in a cold, even soul-less effect. Bauhaus as such is more of a ghost now, but modernist architecture echos its ideals and retains the aesthetic to some degree. Since then, things have relaxed a bit on the greening front and greened facades are no longer taboo: naturalness, warmth, and fullness of life-- and with them full-greening-- are once again 'allowed!' At the same time, there have been undesirable developments where wall greening is sometimes intended to compensate for bad architecture...

"Modern Architecture" architecture by Werner Wirsing, 1986, Munich
"Modern Architecture" architecture by Werner Wirsing, 1986, Munich

Old / Historic Single-Family Houses

The few original houses from the Bauhaus period (until about 1935) are listed as historical monuments in Germany and are under the strict protection of the government. They are usually kept white, as this was the typical colour of the 'new building' ('modern architecture'). From afar these houses appear quite bright, even pure, but can be somewhat shrill and glaring up close. Although greening could mitigate this effect and provide contrast, facade plants are virtually out of the question here (that is, they are usually prohibited): "only the original" is the motto. At the least, one could set simple potted plants against the walls. Still, where greening is permitted, self-clinging and vigorous climbers should be avoided.

Grapevine, reconstruction in "international style," Morgenitz / Usedom / Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
Bauhaus-style and greening with grapevine

New Single-Family Houses

When greening modernist-style buildings, it is best to choose plants which need support to climb rather than self-climbers who tend to colonize a building quickly but wildly. Those that need assistance from cables and wire ropes in order to form and grow will be significantly more maneagable in the long-run. We recommend discussing a facade garden and your greening wishes with the architect at an early stage, because it can then be integrated into the stylistic language of the building. Below you can see examples with cable systems; traditional wooden trellises are also possible. The installation of a cable system may be challenging on some wall types / special facades.

New construction in the international style, wire rope system 8010 modified, espalier fruit
Greening and International style

Pre-Fab Buildings and Social Housing, ~ 1950 onwards

The ideas of modern architecture were applied in Germany from 1950 onwards also in the construction of social housing. Facade greening didn't play a role here at first, but with the advent of the environmental movement, the first attempts were made around 1980. To meet rental quotas, these buildings were redeveloped and rennovated en masse and also greened (mostly on the windowless facades), starting around 1990. Unfortunately, the facades, some of which were very striking, were often expressionless after insulation because they were uniformly painted in plain, light tones (walls with external insulaion systems-- ETICS -- usually have an acrylic plaster that does not tolerate darker colours). Such large-scale and high greenings , due to a lack of maintenance or interest, were sometimes severely neglected or even later cleared away.

Dutchman's Pipe, Erfurt-North / Thuringia

Office and Commercial Buildings

The conditions for office and commercial construction have also changed since 1920, with green building and sustainable construction playing an increasingly important role. Facade gardens have become an integral element in high-quality architecture. Parking garages are being greened, high-rises with green facades are more common (see greening large metal structures / walls), and compltely new greening techniques ~ vertical gardens / living walls ~ are also becoming popular, though these are quite maintenance-intensive and still being tested. In any case, building for a sustainable future without some aspect of facade greening is now almost unthinkable.

Shopping mall with four separate green fields of wild vines, Leipzig-Liebertwolkwitz / Saxony
Building greened with wild vines

Functional Buildings and Negative Trends

A negative trend has begun to emerge with modern, especially industrial, construction. Functional and utilitarian buildings (warehouses, car parking houses, protective walls, etc..), banal forms of concrete and metal, have become quite the eye-sore and are often considered disruptive enough to require greening as a compensation measure. Since greening transforms large, uniform, unsightly, or boring structures, it has understandably become a go-to measure. But the shady side of this discovery: a builder or contractor can use this to his advantage and avoid putting in the effort or cost necessary to create high-quality buildings. Thus, with many 'modern buildings' and their expressionless and cheap facades, greening is reduced to just a covering to mask poor construction or architectural deficit, provided that it is really deserving of the name 'architecture.' *In German, silver lace vine is also called 'architektentrost' -- literally, ''architect's consolation" -- for its ability to quickly cover large areas!

Cheap industrial architecture with twining silver lace vine
Industrial architecture with 'architect's consolation' (a cover of silver lace vine)

Residential Construction ~ Single-Family Houses

Photo gallery of greened residential homes, most of them from after 2000. FassadenGrün trellis systems are marked with a wire rope system number. More examples under Modern Trellises.

Vine with cable system 5050 / middle of a residential building (modern construction)
Evergreen honeysuckle
Evergreen honeysuckle, cable system medium construction style
Cable system 8040 modified, small kiwi is planned
Dutchman's Pipe with fall leaves on wire-cables analogous to our cable system 5050
Wild growing vine, fall colouring, steel cable system 5040 heavy construction on ETICS
Different climbing plants on a rooftop terrace, system 2020
Modified system 3060 on thermal insulation
Cultivated wisteria on a modern townhouse
Ecological construction with different climbing plants
Balcony greening with wisteria
Annual morning glory on climbing wires
Drainpipe greening with Brown-eyed Susans
Privacy planting with wisteria
Greening of terraced houses with wisteria
Apricot with cable systems 1040 on facade panels
Cable system 7060 with an evergreen honeysuckle
Greening with honeysuckle, cable system 5050 (modified)
Greened modern house: 2 vines in pots
Carport greened with ivy

Social Housing and Greening

Unless otherwise stated, these facades were always insulated (external insulation) and then greened.

Climbing elements made of painted metal square tubing on a gable, greened with small-leafed Dutchman's Pipe (aristolochia tomentosa), Chemnitz / Saxony
Wall greening with wisteria on a gable, Berlin
Crimson glory vine (vitis coignetiae) on a gable in Erfurt-North / Thuringia
Greened facade with Boston Ivy on a metal lattice, Dresden / Saxony
Silver lace vine on a lattice system, Torgau / Saxony
Superimposed climbing wall made of steel profiles, Dutchman's Pipe, Erfurt / Thuringia
Mixed greening on a textile-coated wire rope, Leipzig / Saxony
Wisteria on a railing in Jena / Thuringia
Renovated apartment block with silver lace vine on wire ropes, Lübben / Brandenburg
Unrenovated prefab. buildings greened with five-lobed wild vine P. quinquefolia (Virginia creeper), Cottbus / Brandenburg
One of the last, distinctive WBS 70 pre-fab buildings WITHOUT additional insulation (new modern stucco) - in the near future, perhaps a case for monument protection! Lattices growing wisteria, Gera/Thuringia
A green project with Dutchman's Pipe on trellis cables in Dresden/Saxony
Mixed greening on a pre-fab construction gable, Leipzig/Saxony
Greening on standard WBS 70 construction near a water system beneficial to the atmospheric humidity, Leipzig/Saxony
Apartment complex of the WBS 70 series from the GDR time with clematis vitalba on steel cables, Leipzig-Paunsdorf/Saxony
Apartments (renovated with ETICS), oriental bittersweet on steel cables, Leipzig-Sellerhausen/Saxony
Inner city housing program from the GDR (German Democratic Republic) time without modern insulation or stucco-work, additional greening of the first floor area with wisteria on cable systems 9020, Leipzig/Saxony
Prefab. gable without insulation. Building greening 25 m high with thicket creeper, Halle/Saale / Saxony-Anhalt

Office and Commercial/Industrial Construction

Examples of successful facade greening. Please also refer to our section on Parking Garages.

Alternative greening possibilities on an office building: Front facade metal construction with wisteria, silver lace vine, and Dutchman's pipe, new construction of the IHK Cottbus/Brandenburg
Building greening with wisteria on the stair tower of a factory in Dresden/Saxony
Climbing trumpets on trellis cables on a glass facade, Leipzig/Saxony
Cinema building with a pre-planted firethorn pyracantha in Döbeln/Saxony
Hotel greened with wisteria spindles in Heringsdorf/Rügen/Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Native jungle lianas: clematis vitalba on an University building in Leipzig/Saxony
Virginia creeper on a shopping center in Halberstadt/Saxony-Anhalt
Small commercial building in the international style with wisteria, Quedlinburg/Saxony-Anhalt
Green up of a garage with an evergreen honeysuckle Leipzig/Saxony
Green trellis wall with wisteria and other climbers, Faculty of Humanities building-- University of Leipzig/Saxony
A "Living Wall" from Patrick Blanc at the department store "Hallery Lafayette" in Berlin
Fore-standing green wall with wild climbing vine (Virginia creeper), University clinic Leipzig/Saxony
Greening of a 'break' (pause) room in a street car "tram" terminal station, separate lattice enclosure of the space as support for the climbers, Leipzig-Knautkleeberg/Saxony
Brilliant and simple: wall design with wild vine at a shopping market. A wall offset contains the four green wall fields and keeps the plants in their dedicated area. Leipzig-Liebertwolkwitz/Saxony
Stair tower on a modern building, greened with wild vine, highschool building HTWK Leipzig/Saxony
Warehouse greening with wild vines (vitis coignetiae) on steel cable climbing nets, St. Benno Publishing house/Leipzig/Saxony
Wall panels planted with wild climbing vine at the entrance of a school greened with wild growing vine, Leipzig-Mölkau/Saxony
New hospital in the international style, a windowless wall greened with creepers on ropes, Halle on the Salle river/Saxony-Anhalt
One can see from the wall and window soffits how thick and lush this greening will be in the future if the plants are properly cared for and maintained.... Fraunhofer Institute /Halle on the Salle river/Saxony-Anhalt
Modern construction with ivy greening on an office and hotel building. With more care, the lattice fields in the large wall opening can probably be filled in with potted plants. Halle- Neustadt/Saxony-Anhalt
Diagonally tensioned rope systems 0020 with Dutchman's Pipe and wild growing vine, ZOO Leipzig, "Gonwanaland"
High bay warehouse with GFRP-grids on sandwich-façades. The side facing the nature reserve area-- greened with hops and silver lace vine, 6 months after completion. Böttcher-AG in Jena / Thuringia
Ventilation tower at the Fraunhofer-Institut. Modified massive wire rope system 5050 for clematis. 1 year after completion, Jena / Thuringia
Building greening on a parking garage. Different climbing plants on galvanised steel bars. "Arsenal" shopping centre, Wittenberg / Saxony-Anhalt
A shopping centre greened with silver lace vine, clematis vitalba, akebia, and others on steel cables, Konstanz / Baden-Wuerttemberg
Dutchman's pipe and trumpet vine, university clinic radiology, Dresden / Saxony