The Oasis of Aboukir

The high density of historic buildings in the 2nd district (2ème arrondissement) of Paris leaves little scope for traditional horizontal green spaces, so the botanist and researcher Patrick Blanc (born 1953) has created a vertical garden on a formerly raw concrete wall at the corner of Rue des Petits Carreaux and Rue d’Aboukir in the Sentier neighborhood.

To do this, he first made a metal frame to support a sheet of PVC (Polyvinyl chloride), on which he stapled two layers of polyamide felt, each 3 mm thick. He explains: “These layers mimic cliff-growing mosses and support the roots of many plants. A network of pipes controlled by valves provides a nutrient solution containing dissolved minerals needed for plant growth.”

Looking up at the Vertical Garden in August 2014

He says that the Oasis of Aboukir was a private commission covering 250 square meters. It is 25 meters high, covering one wall of a five-storey building, and is planted with 7600 plants of 237 different species.

The Oasis of Aboukir was installed and planted in the spring of 2013 and was officially inaugurated in September of that year. Five years later the vegetation still seems to be thriving.

About Patrick Blanc

Patrick Blanc has created numerous such vertical gardens all over the world, including several others in Paris, for instance at the Quai Branly Museum and on his own house in Paris.

The same corner in 1930 and 1950

On display at the site of the Oasis of Aboukir are these photos of the same corner in 1930 and 1950.

Aboukir Street in Paris

The street Rue d’Aboukir was named after a battle in Egypt, which was won by the French army under Napoléon in 1799. It turns out that Napoléon as a young man once lived in this street, in a small hotel at what is now number 11, rue d’Aboukir.

The neighborhood is known unofficially as “Sentier” (= “path”), after a path that once existed along the trenches of the wall of Charles V, which was built from 1356 to 1383.

This “Sentier” neighborhood was known in earlier times as the garment district of Paris. In the 1990s it became known for a while as “Silicon Sentier” because numerous internet start-up companies were based here, but many of these went bankrupt when the dot-com bubble burst around the year 2000.

My photos in this post are from 2014 and 2018. I revised the text in 2018.

See more posts on the 2nd arrondissement of Paris.

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