In their second collaboration in the town of Sint-Michielsgestel, Netherlands, MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas and Theobert van Boven of Van Boven Architecten have designed a small office and residential building that uses a gridded “rack” system to support a series of potted plants and trees in place of a traditional façade.

The Green Villa will be situated on the corner of an existing parking lot, and will contain five apartments across the top three floors, ground floor office space for real estate developer Stein, and an underground parking section. The silhouette is designed to match the mansard roof shapes on the surrounding buildings, filled in by stark white pots of varying shapes and sizes. Greenery proposed for the exterior include forsythias, jasmine, pine, and birch, each with its own nameplate and information.

The bedrooms and living spaces are composed of “space modules” made to fit within the building’s grid, which will stand four bays wide and three bays deep. The selection and placement of each plant is made with consideration to the living space behind it, providing privacy, shade, or views as needed. A sensor-controlled irrigation system will feed captured rainwater into each planter automatically.

“This design is a continuation of our research into ‘facade-less’ buildings and radical greening,” Maas says. “The idea from the 1990s of city parks as an oasis in the city is too limited. We need a radical ‘green dip ’ … we should also cover roofs and high-rise facades with greenery. Plants and trees can help us to offset CO2 emissions, cool our cities, and promote biodiversity.”

Maas and van Boven had previously collaborated on the expansion of the nearby Gymnasium Beekvliet, where they both attended school. “The Green Villa is also a personal project, because I went to school in Sint-Michielsgestel”, says Maas. “Just like I did before with the Glass Farm, in my native village Schijndel, I am returning to the region of my youth. It is nice to work with Theobert again.”

Construction on the Green Villa is set to start this year. Van Boven Architecten will also serve as the project’s developer.