Concrete stairs lead to a mezzanine fish-tank area. Photograph: Kozumi Higaki
Known for his vertical gardens, Patrick Blanc is a French botanist who specialises in plants from tropical forests. He has created a number of these vertical gardens around the world, firstly on exterior walls, then on interior walls. They are constructed from metal frames attached to the walls and then covered with PVC sheets and rot-proof felts. An irrigation system dampens the felt, which in turn waters the plants.
The bathroom leads to a balcony over the courtyard. Photograph: Kozumi Higaki
Expanding on this method, Blanc has created his own dream home in Paris with the architect Gilles Ebersolt. The house stands behind a dreary facade, but open the gate and another world appears. First, you step into a courtyard with three walls covered with plants, and from there into an open-plan kitchen, dining room and Blanc’s study, which sits on top of a huge 20,000-litre fish tank. Measuring 6m x 7m, the tank’s glass ceiling acts as the study’s floor, from which Blanc’s desk looks down on to fish, turtles, water plants and reflections of the tropical birds flying above. The temperature of the water is kept warm all year, and acts as underfloor heating in the winter.
The surrounding walls are covered with mosses, ferns and leaves in all different shapes and sizes. Reminding us that we are not, after all, in a real jungle, one of the walls is dedicated to Blanc’s books, stored in plywood boxes piled up to create shelves. Upstairs, there is a bathroom with an outdoor shower facing the courtyard.
Blanc insists that he is not interested in architecture or interior design; rather, he is interested in plants, fish and water. He designed the house with his extensive knowledge of plants and using innovative systems, but most of all with his passion for what he loves.
• These photographs feature in Room: Inside Contemporary Interiors, published next week by Phaidon at £49.95.