Vertical garden in Milan courtyard


Plant design of the three-storey green walls of Monte dei Paschi di Siena Bank courtyard in Largo Cairoli, Milan. To select the most suitable vegetation, I started by making an accurate sun shadow study. The challenge was to obtain a lush and seamless effect all over the court, from the sunny top of the building to the shady basement.

I opted for a wave layout, displaying each plant in fluid, diagonal lines. This to keep the design neat, leaving to foliage the work to blur the transition to the next plant type. A large living wall is not a licence to go wild. As landscape architect I am interested in creating inspiring scenarios, vertical gardens inviting people to look up unfolding their imagination – and a garden is always a designed, special place.   

On a green wall each plant is in plain sight, therefore it is crucial to place species paying attention to their respective form. Texture of leaves, habit, stem length, flowering period as well as what happens when inflorescences dry out. I enjoyed to turn Bergenia cordifolia, that is a common perennial that you can find in a lot of Italian neglected garden, into a major player in my green wall design in the centre of Milan. Its round leaves perform as green punctuation, adding to the composition fresh pauses. Trailing Vinca major and Campanula spp, other recurrent plants, are encouraged to frame the openings like sophisticated drapery.

I also developed the concept design delivered by the Bank’s architectural department into construction design. The project, characterized by colorful frames marking thresholds and windows, allowed me to set technical details to conceal the profiles and the structure supporting vegetation. Taking the chance of the building’s renewal works, the collection duct for water recirculation has been integrated with discretion into the court paving.

Installing a green wall on building exteriors is a change that has to comply with landscape restrictions, especially when it impacts the historical urban landscape of the city. Submitting to the Metropolitan City of Milan a detailed statement of landscape project intent and open space management after accurate site analysis has been, actually, the preliminary part of my job for Monte dei Paschi di Siena Bank.   

At last, I have been engaged to supervision the green wall construction and the fertirrigation system installation.   

Location: Largo Cairoli, Milan, Italy
Site area: 134 m2
Partners: Peverelli Srl, Monte dei Paschi di Siena architectural department
Year: 2015

Scroll UpScroll Up