For anyone waiting at or passing through Rotkreuz station at present it is a good idea to look up to see what it going on at the Aglaya development, the first garden high-rise building in Switzerland.
The 22-storey building is still covered in scaffolding. When Zuger Zeitung journalist Rahel Hug visited it recently she was able to catch the contractor’s lift to the 17th floor but had to make her way to the 22nd by climbing up ladders on the scaffolding. Naturally one is struck by the views over the surrounding countryside from this 70-metre high vantage point but the real striking thing up there is all the greenery. Indeed, no fewer than 142 trees, 839 bushes,1352 climbing plants and 13,500 other shrubs are to be put in place on the façades of this 82-apartment residential block being built by the Zug Estates property development company.
The huge logistical challenge of putting all this vegetation up there is the responsibility of landscape gardener Roger Ingold and his team from Oberwil-Lieli in the neighbouring canton of Argovia, who have three months to complete the job, as the scaffolding is also being removed over this time. In addition to all the plants, there are the pots to keep them in, too. Even once they are all in place it is Ingold’s job to maintain them, too. Not that he is not experienced in this sort of project, but this one is exceptional in its size. Even when they are all in situ, the plants will have to be able to resist different types of adverse weather such as storms, hail and wind. To ensure the trees stay in place, they are being anchored by their roots from below and by wires from above. Several thousands of bulbs are being planted too, not included in the headline’s statistics. As Ingold further explained, most of the greenery being planted is native to Switzerland, all of them coming from a nursery in Bern where they have been nurtured for the past 18 months.
The base material for the plants is not soil but a substrate made of minerals which can store water for longer periods, 1,400 cubic metres of it is needed, all transported up the Aglaya building (the name is Greek for splendour) by lift and then transferred to where needed by hand. The water to be used is to come from stored rainwater in the basement.
The third photograph shows some of the trees, European hornbeam and maple, being prepared for positioning, labels on the branches indicating whether they are for the sunny or shady side of the building. Colour coordination has been taken into consideration, too, the vegetation appearing in hues of green to yellow and shades of red, depending on the season.
Ingold feels the use of plants in this way has a great future, after all they not only provide shade in the summer but contribute to bio-diversity as they attract birds and insects.
Expats from Milan or Singapore may well know of similar projects in their own cities, the twin towers of Bosco Verticale in the former and Waterfall Gardens in the latter.