A Beginner’s Guide To The Art Of Brutalism With Plants

Brutalism with plants, also known as eco-brutalism, is a relatively new architectural movement in modernism that is gaining interest among designers and architects seeking to construct sustainable structures that are both practical and visually appealing.

Unlike traditional brutalist architecture, which frequently employs heavy concrete and other ecologically harmful materials, eco-brutalism focuses on employing sustainable and natural materials in a way that is both environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

In this article, we will explore what eco-brutalism is and 5 simple ways to achieve this design.

More interested in landscapes than architecture? Here are landscaping industry insights for 2023!

What Is The Difference Between Brutalism And Eco-Brutalism?

©Victor / Unsplash

A brutalist structure is distinguished by steel, concrete finishing, and an overall feeling of practicality that is often required in a post-war society. Essentially, brutalist buildings are intended to promote utility over everything. If you’ve never heard of eco-brutalism, it’s an architectural style that relies on a sense of juxtaposition between divergent concepts.

The phrase eco-brutalism refers to the combination of brutalist style and the green associated with sustainability. The contrast between stark concrete and flora hanging from buildings allows for a distinct set of conceptions and ideas. These concepts include the colorful, resilient life of nature and bleak human design. The use of trees, plants, and other varied green features transforms brutalist structures into eco-brutalist structures. These elements make use of natural light and brighten spaces. In essence, eco-brutalism is a mix of brutalist style and greenery.

Eco-brutalism is a combination of austerity and life, creating stunning spaces that celebrate life while still having a brutalist backdrop. It is linked to sustainability, as adding greenery improves their ecological footprint. This has resulted in huge interest in this type of architecture, leading to more buildings designed this way popping up on our streets.

Do not mistake eco-brutalism for biophilic design, have a look at our blog on biophilic design for more details.

5 Ways To Achieve The Style Of Brutalism With Plants – For Beginners!

Brutalism with plants
©Hiroyuki Oki, Quang Dam / Binh House

Eco-brutalism is a design philosophy that stresses the use of unfinished materials, bare concrete, and little adornment to produce environmentally friendly structures. Here are some approaches you may use to accomplish eco-brutalism in design:

1. Grow Native Plants

©Ameen Deen / Planter Box House

In terms of plant selection for eco-brutalist designs, plants that are native to the area and require minimal maintenance and water should be prioritized. Here are some examples:

  1. Native grasses: Native grasses are well-suited to eco-brutalist designs because they are adapted to the local climate and require minimal maintenance. Some examples of native grasses include California oat grass and purple needlegrass.
  2. Wildflowers: Planting a mix of wildflowers can add color and diversity to an eco-brutalist garden while providing a habitat for pollinators.
  3. Shrubs: Native shrubs like manzanita and ceanothus can provide structure and texture to a garden while requiring minimal care. They can help to define outdoor spaces and create visual interest in an eco-brutalist landscape.
  4. Trees: Trees like oak and madrone are well-suited to eco-brutalist designs, providing shade and habitat for wildlife while requiring little maintenance. They can be used to create a focal point in a garden or provide screening and privacy.

The key to eco-brutalist gardening is to choose plants that are adapted to the local climate and require minimal inputs. By selecting plants that are well-suited to the local environment, you can create a sustainable and resilient landscape that is both beautiful and functional.

Want more advice on the must-have plants? Read up on the 19 best plants as voted by landscape and garden experts!

2. Create Vertical Living Walls

©Elifin Realty / Unsplash

Living walls are a dramatic way to incorporate plants into your brutalist building. Not only do they make a bold statement, but they also help purify the air and improve the overall environment of your space. Plants such as ferns, mosses, and Ivy can be grown on a vertical surface using hydroponics or another type of soilless growing system.

There are numerous benefits of having an indoor vertical garden, particularly in commercial landscape design:

  • Space-saving: An indoor vertical garden can be a great way to add greenery to your home without taking up valuable floor space.
  • Air purification: Plants naturally purify the air by absorbing pollutants and releasing fresh oxygen, which can improve the air quality in your home.
  • Aesthetic appeal: Vertical gardens add visual interest and aesthetic appeal to any room, creating a peaceful and calming atmosphere.
  • Energy efficiency: Plants can help regulate temperature and humidity levels in your home, potentially reducing the need for artificial heating and cooling.

Having an indoor vertical garden is a great and simple way to achieve the style of eco-brutalism. Here are some more ideas to improve the aesthetic of your interior design!

3. Install A Green Roof

Brutalist concrete mansion with living roof in Cardiff by the Sea, CA
©Jared Nelson Photography

A green roof is a popular feature in eco-brutalist design due to its numerous environmental benefits and ability to contribute to the building’s overall aesthetic.

The installation process involves careful planning and design, including assessing the structural capacity of the building and determining the appropriate type of green roof system to be used.

Other aspects include waterproofing, drainage, soil layer, vegetation, and maintenance. In eco-brutalist design, native plants and grasses are often used for a naturalistic appearance that blends with the surrounding landscape.

Overall, installing a green roof in eco-brutalist design requires attention to detail but offers a worthwhile investment for many building projects.

Learn more about the exciting opportunities offered by rooftop planters and plants!

4. Opt For Functional Planters

©Jay Scotts/ Zola Properties

In eco-brutalist design, functional planters are an important element that serves both practical and aesthetic purposes. These planters must have proper drainage to prevent water accumulation and can be made from sustainable recycled or natural materials.

Functional planters are versatile and can be used in various ways such as:

  • Use planters strategically to soften the hard lines and edges of the space. For example, place a row of planters along a wall or window to create a more welcoming atmosphere.
  • Experiment with different shapes and sizes of planters to add depth and dimension to the space. Try using tall, cylindrical planters for a dramatic effect, or mix in round or square planters for visual interest.
  • Using planters as dividers to section off different areas of the space. This can be especially effective in larger open-plan spaces.
  • Choose planters that complement the overall color palette of your eco-brutalist design. Neutral tones like concrete and terracotta work well, while bright colors can feel out of place.

Planters can be an excellent addition to eco-brutalist design when used thoughtfully and creatively. By incorporating natural elements into an otherwise industrial space, you can create a unique and inviting environment that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Learn more about the 7 best planter materials for your eco-brutalism project!

Create Contrast With Dark Colored Planters

black planters next to wall
©Jay Scotts / Doug Carl Residence

Creating contrast with dark-colored planters in eco-brutalism design involves paying attention to various elements such as plant selection, hardscape materials, and lighting. Here are some details on how to create contrast with dark planters:

  • Plant selection: One way to create contrast with dark-colored planters is by using light-colored plants that stand out against the dark background. For example, plants with white foliage such as the ‘Silver Shimmers’ Lungwort plant, Albo Borsigiana Monstera, can create a striking contrast with black or dark brown planters.
  • Hardscape materials: Another way to create contrast with dark-colored planters is by pairing them with light-colored hardscape materials such as paving stones or gravel. The light-colored hardscaping will make the dark-colored planters stand out and draw the eye to them. On the other hand, dark-colored hardscaping materials can create a cohesive and monochromatic look if that’s what you’re going for.
  • Placement and grouping: Placing dark planters in strategic locations can help create contrast and focal points in a garden or outdoor space. Grouping several dark planters together can also create an eye-catching display, especially when paired with lighter-colored plants or hardscape materials.

Learn to arrange indoor plants and pots like a Pro

Creating contrast with dark-colored planters in eco-brutalism design requires careful consideration of different design elements and how they work together to create a harmonious and eye-catching composition.

See Our Planters Make A Difference

Learn how Jay Scotts planters are used to meet the goals of our customers – from the Philadelphia International Airport to the Gates Hotel South Beach in Miami.

planters near pool
©Penthouse Pool Club / UA Companies / Jay Scotts

2 Examples Of Brutalist Architecture With Plants

1. The Jungle House

Jungle house
©Fernando Guerra / Jungle House

The Jungle House is terraced into the forest on the shore of Guarujá, as the name suggests. This three-story structure is located southeast of Sao Paulo. To establish typographic harmony, the home is elevated from the ground. This means that the main floors project from the hillside.

The property also features two wellness zones, one of which has a pool near the terrace. The other wellness area has a private jacuzzi. With a tropical forest backdrop, nature noises, and magnificent foliage, this is the ideal spot to visit and unwind. It provides an absolutely distinct and unlike any other experience.

2. The Casa Meztitla

©Yoshihiro Koitani / The Casa Meztitla

The Casa Meztitla is made of magnificent native volcanic stone with exposed concrete to absorb its natural surroundings. It contains a pool that gathers rainwater, which is subsequently stored in a cistern beneath the home. Almost all of the rooms are open to the outside, and there is a small pool with a hot tub.

Beautiful trees and vegetation surround the villa. This home is so distinctive that it cannot be compared to anything else. A mountain provides a magnificent backdrop against which the bright, warm sunshine shines.

Fiberglass Planters For An Effortless Eco-brutalism Design

planters outside of a rooftop
©Jay Scotts/ Zola Properties

Beyond just advertising, every industrial expert knows that using fiberglass planters in eco-brutalism design is a smart choice, which combines practicality with sustainability and is an excellent option for architects and interior designers who want to create functional, environmentally conscious spaces.

Fiberglass planters offer durability, versatility, and low maintenance, making them an ideal choice for eco-brutalism design where the focus is on practicality and functionality. They can withstand harsh weather conditions and provide insulation to plants, promoting healthy growth.

Additionally, fiberglass planters can be molded into various shapes and sizes, giving designers more flexibility in their design choices, which is important in eco-brutalism design that emphasizes creativity and innovation.

Learn more about Fiberglass Planters: Why Experts Need Them For Design Projects.

Achieve Your Eco-Brutalism Design With Jay Scotts Collection

planters outside
©Lasting Greenery / Jay Scotts

Made from commercial-grade fiberglass and handcrafted to perfection, our dedication to designing, manufacturing, and delivering world-class planters at incredible value has led us to the global leaders we are today.

Available in an array of 20 stunning colors that will be suitable for any color scheme you or your clients require, our team at Jay Scotts hand finish each planter with a UV protective coating before it leaves our headquarters in Miami, Florida.

Source our planters with peace of mind, all of our planters come with an industry-leading warranty emphasizing the commitment and value of our products and service. Choose from our large range of standard products or choose to custom order bespoke designs.

Feel free to give us a call or put together a quote today!

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