The World Exhibition in Dubai has opened its doors in intense heat. Greenworks’ landscape engineer Jens Öqvist is on site and has both designed and installed plant walls and plantings outside and inside.
“We contribute with an 8 meter high and 3 meter wide plant wall in the stairwell”, explains Jens Öqvist who created the composition on site. “It is quite similar to the ones we make at home in Sweden with plants such as Philodendron scandens, Aglaonema, Alocasia and Peperomia angulata ‘Rocca Scuro’.
The transport of the plants from the Netherlands went surprisingly well, despite the fact that they had to live in a closed wooden box in airplanes and customs for almost a week.”
The Forest, the Swedish pavilion created by Alessandro Ripellino Architects together with Adrien Gardère Studio and Luigi Pardo Architetti, is the government’s single largest export and investment promotion initiative during the year. The pavilion in the Sustainability area is built of wood shipped from Dalarna and wants to show how innovative wooden construction can compete with traditional building technology, not least environmentally. Greenworks plant walls and plantations create harmony in the forest.
Creating a plant wall in a controlled indoor climate is not a major challenge for Greenworks, outdoors the work has been all the more demanding. Jens has on his trips in the hot city noted that at least a third of all public plantations are burned by the inexorably hot sun. The emirate capital Dubai has a fairly short history as a major city. Until the 1970s, there was only one fishing village here, today Dubai is an emirate capital with more than 3 million inhabitants where the location between Dubai Bay and the desert provides a tough climate where most things are completely artificial. Nevertheless, or perhaps precisely because of this, Dubai is one of the world’s foremost tourist destinations, not least with the globe’s tallest skyscraper Burj Khalifa.
“I traveled to a nursery area in Warsan,” says Jens, “in 40 degree heat I botanized among 20 nurseries before I found Gover, a serious company that also made plant walls and gave suggestions for several plants that work in hydroponics on walls and that can withstand this demanding climate.”
The outdoor plant wall on the terrace consists of different types of ground-covering plant species, including Wedelia trilobata, Asystasia gangetica and Asparagus sprengeri. In addition, Greenworks has been responsible for 10 square meters of plant beds on the terrace as well as sowing seeds at the joints between the stones at ground level.
” The high heat has required double rows of drip tubes in the plant beds which we installed on the terrace in full sun. At one part of the terrace, the plant beds should reproduce a feeling of land that meets the sea. Conifers such as Araucaria heterophylla with Asystasia gangetica meet grasses such as Pennisetum setaceum mixed with grafted Ficus retusa and last but not least fragrant Arabic jasmine.”
The order came at the last minute and Jens has together with his assistants Vikram and Amir worked hard to be ready in time for the opening on the first of October. The green surfaces have given the Swedish pavilion a green lushness that complements an austere architectural design of a number of standing strong wooden poles.
“If you get down here before Expo2020 closes on March 31 next year, you should definitely visit the neighboring pavilions that have exciting plant wall solutions” Jens Öqvist adds enthusiastically. The Slovenian pavilion is a huge plant wall covered by a vaulted wooden canopy. Singapore is even more radical with cone-shaped plant installations rising from the floor and hanging from the ceiling, it’s like entering an urban jungle.