The Versatile Envelope Garden

A Communal Threshold for Urban Environments



Facades play an integral role in defining the experience of modern life. As rising populations gravitate from rural to urban communities, they bring with them a growing need for buildings and spaces that provide access to fresh, local food and revive their connection to the natural world. The Versatile Envelope Garden (VEG) is a curtain wall concept that seeks to enrich the lives of city inhabitants by allowing occupants to grow their own micro/baby leafy greens and herbs year-round within a double skin facade. The concept incorporates precedents found in green roof/walls, vertical farming, and community gardens. Plants grow within a climate-controlled double skin cavity on solar shading louvers, accessible via operable inner glazing. The plants oxygenate air as it flows through each unit stack, improving indoor air quality and absorbing CO­2 from the surrounding city. VEG can cover an entire building envelope or install as a single module within a more conventional facade as a feature balcony. The flexibility of its design allows it to work within a range of building programs by supplying amenities that promote a healthier lifestyle. Occupants can treat VEG as a participatory communal garden or hire a third-party gardening service when this is not feasible. The Versatile Envelope Garden addresses a wide range of issues within a realistic system design, conceived as an idea that can be refined and implemented in the here and now.


Photo of Nathaniel Barlam

Nathaniel Barlam

Architectural Design Lead

Virtual Construction Lab of Schüco

Photo of Yunyao Lin

Yunyao Lin

Assistant Designer

Virtual Construction Lab of Schüco

Photo of Ben Silverman

Ben Silverman

CTO + Cofounder at Edenworks




When Le Corbusier equated the modern city to a biological organism, he likened green space with the lungs that help its populace breathe (Corbusier, 1929). As larger portions of the

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Green roofs/walls have grown in popularity as an innovative way to add green space to urban environments, fueled in part by LEED credit incentives and a clear aesthetic benefit (Fig

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Design Concept

The Versatile Envelope Garden grows micro/baby leafy greens and herbs within a double skin facade cavity (Fig. 5). VEG is comprised of facade units that feature two layers of glazing

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Conclusion and Future Work

The Versatile Envelope Garden is conceived around amenities that can help remedy the disconnect from nature and food sources that come with rapid urbanization. The next steps will be to

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The authors would like to thank the teams at The Virtual Construction Lab of Schüco and Edenworks for their input and knowledge.

Rights and Permissions

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