Florafelt: A Vision Of Living Buildings
My love of architecture resulted in the fortunate opportunity attend and receive a 5 year bachelor’s degree from SCI-ARC in 1992. The school was located blocks from Frank Gehry’s office, where ideas for an organic future were just beginning to blossom.
– Chris Bribach, inventor of the Florafelt System
I was excited about organic ideas in architecture and created chaos sculptures made from many pieces of building elements connected in a free-form structure. I assembled the pieces in what seemed chaotic designs, but the goal was to create a redundantly efficient organic space frame. Similar to how a bird builds a nest, I wanted the assembly to become a process that organically helped create the scope and shape. On the human scale, I created what I called ‘performance architecture’ where the audience would create their own experience resulting in a structure.
The act of creating space with the materials at hand, quickly and efficiently, is how ancient people built dwellings. Nomadic communities living in harmony with their environment for thousands of years used very little to build comfortable homes. By passing down this knowledge, a rich architecture evolved that was sensitive to the environment and made efficient use of local materials.
The massive industrial urban centers of today are plagued with paved and roofed surfaces that require enormous amounts of energy to create and maintain. I wondered why buildings can’t be covered with living foliage to cool interiors, prevent decay and even grow food.
In 2008 I turned to the work of the visionary artist Patric Blanc who began growing vertically in the 1970s using his home fish aquarium. Replicating the natural growth along cliffs and sloping surfaces, he created beautiful vertical gardens using nutrient water that flows over synthetic felt. Excited by the potential, I explored the slit-and-staple method Patric offered in his book, The Vertical Garden, where he removes almost all the soil when planting. It quickly became clear that a mastery of botany would be required to provide proper water and nutrients hydroponically. Finding this far too difficult for the rest of us, I simplified the concept by pleating the felt and stapling it to a lightweight non-toxic plastic board to create easily plantable pockets. I wrote and was granted a patent for the ‘Vertical Garden Panel’ filed Sep. 2, 2010.
I am committed to the use of sustainable manufacturing methods that I learned from William McDonough’s book, Cradle To Cradle, so I worked with manufacturers to develop a synthetic growing medium I called Florafelt. Made from recycled plastic water bottles, it is food-safe and will not only last indefinitely but can be re-melted to create other products.
Florafelt Vertical Planters are proudly made in the USA from materials also made in the USA. Our team assembles planters and systems for customers throughout the world. There’s nothing like the joy you feel when you fill a wall with plants.