Flying Gardens

  • An overwhelming history of sky design does not exist. Ancient Romans and Greeks never had the technical possibilities to really redesign the big space around us. As modern society we have been designing more or less anything over the past few decades, and now we take it to the next level: the impossible. How to design the sky?

    Some great and inspiring initiatives that aim to create a new experience of the ‘boring’ sky take place last years. Are we collectively sick of the blue sky decorated with natural, white clouds? Do we prefer the everlasting rainbow, northern light forever, artificial green clouds or pixel swarms as displays?


    The project to be featured today is the flying garden developed by Rael San Fratello Architects. The so-called migrating floating gardens would be suspended in the air from large remotely controlled dirigibles. Each inflatable craft would house thousands of smaller plants attached to long vines. A family of dirigibles would migrate within a city, moving towards areas where the heat island effect is greatest, and also migrate seasonally, traveling to southern cities during winter months and northern cities during summer months. The office considers this concept as a design frontier heading for the space that’s never been discovered. Looking for a new dimension to spread human influence.

    “Migrating Floating Gardens is a sketch for a project that predicts the next location for green in urban environments. Historically, urban environments encroached upon outlying wilderness and green was detached from the city. Subsequently green was introduced first on the horizontal plane in the form of parks. Modernity and the development of dense, high-rise construction pushed green to rooftops. Currently, the vertical surface is receiving much attention as the axis for green in urban environments. As the Cartesian axes have all been heavily considered as sites for green, the logical next location lies in non-Cartesian space—floating in the air.”


    Floating through the air, each plant is supported by a load of technology which monitors, generates data and takes care of the plants. Together they form a huge chlorophyl cloud, monitoring and cleaning the air above our cities.

    “Each individual plant attached to the dirigible has attached to it a host of sensors that detect weather, traffic, pollution, noise and other urban data in real time. In addition, each plant is attached to an individual propelled device that allows it to be set free from it’s base. Controlled by GPS and GIS information and organized in flocking patterns, plants move through the city in swarms hydrating, providing shade, and bring oxogen to green-less spaces in the urban field.”


    The developers already thought about rather practical future purposes of these swarm gardens. Besides the more environmental and spatial purposes, such as creating shade or create new environments, the best opportunities to really implement this idea are in marketing. “Advertising can fuel the gardens presence in the skies, replacing sky writing, blimps and banners pulled by airplanes, creating a more dynamic, three-dimensional and ecological aerial media.”