259 Elizabeth Street, 1B (listed by Corcoran)

An Urban Gardening Grows Into a Sculptural Installation by Plant-in-City

Some of the best innovations start with a problem, and Plant-in City—a line of sculptural, stackable terrariums—is no exception. “It all began with an idea to add more ‘green’ designs in our workshop, but because we were traveling frequently we also needed some automation to be able to take care of our plants,” says Carlos Gómez, one of the brand’s co-founders.

Finding a way to keep plants alive despite busy schedules turned into a hybrid architecture system that bridges urban planning and the natural order. The Plant-in City terrariums are custom-made to facilitate the growth of a diversity of plants, resulting in a complex, climbing ecosystem. Lest that sound too difficult to cultivate, a mobile application allows remote control management, via measurements in soil moisture, temperature and humidity. One type of planter is for soil plants and sensors, another features LED lighting that turns on at night, and a third creates a rain-like effect.

Plant-in-City sculptural terrarium designs

Getting the whole system to work was an immensely challenging endeavor for Gómez and his partners, Huy Bui and Jon Schramm. “The three of us are architects by background, but our careers have focused on different disciplines, so we all took ownership of different aspects of this complex project,” Gómez says.

Plant-in-City custom-made terrariums

The trio met weekly for months to share progress and discuss challenges. Without much experience working with plants, the learning curve was steep; the architects quickly realized that while they could tinker endlessly with wood, plants do not like to be moved. Finding a light source that could run overnight without producing an exorbitant electricity bill was a hurdle, but eventually they settled on energy-efficient LED strips. “It was a really intense and stimulating collaboration process,” Gómez recalls.

A photo posted by Plant-in City (@plantincity) on

Plant-in City continues to grow its offerings. They have installed terrariums in a number of art spaces, and also offer custom versions for the home. Mini, ready-made iterations are for sale at Home Made—they’re ideally sized for a desktop or a coffee table.

View more of 259 Elizabeth St. 1B here.