A vertical garden covering 1492m2 has been created in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. The garden, which adorns the the Palacio de Congresos Europa (Palace of Congresses Europe) and incorporates over 33,000 individual plants, was designed by Alicante-based sustainable architecture firm Urbanarbolismo.

The project was conceived as a means of improving the energy usage of the Palacio de Congresos. The addition of a planted facade to the building is expect to increase its thermal insulation by 270 percent.

In order to reflect the native ecosystems of the locality, the plants used are inspired by those found in the areas surrounding Vitoria-Gasteiz, including the wetland vegetation of Salburua, the agricultural field plots of Alava, and beech forests of the Vitoria mountains.

About two thirds of the planted area uses a hydroponic system, which is monitored to control the development of the plants. Factors tracked include substrate nutrient conditions, pH levels and humidity. The monitoring also helps to save water and energy.

"We were surprised how quickly nature breaks through the vertical garden, thanks to native plants it has been colonized by all kinds of insects and animals," says Urbanarbolismo.

As well as plants that are "bedded into" the building, a twisting metal frame is wrapped around it to provide a means of support for climbing plants. The structure is illuminated at night by low-power LEDs, creating an intriguing aesthetic.

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