City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

Joost Greenhouse, Melbourne

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The Greenhouse, by Joost and others, is an opportunistic temporary insertion into a gap in Federation Square, Melbourne.

It’s built entirely from recycled and recyclable materials. The exterior is dis-assembled shipping containers and packing crates, filled with straw bale and covered with plants. When I was there, the walls were embedded with strawberry plants and potatoes were planted on top (and used in the potato salad served below), amongst other things.




The contents within comprise a carefully curated set of local and international sustainable products. For example, the toilets, with products by Aesop, let you wash your hands in the water that is then used to re-fill the cistern below. No need for a separate washbasin, and saves a fair amount of water. Very simple, very smart.


Galloway Design Collective have re-worked shipping crates into roughly-hewn but very pleasing chairs, which are also reusable as tables, stools, benches – a little like <a href="
“>this wonderful crate by Small Australian Projects.



Metal chairs are recasts of old street signs, with seat covers made of recycled advertising and signage, creating accidental détournement as per Freitag bags. Great food (locally-sourced of course) is served up on a wooden board, salad in a tin, apple juice in a bottle. Pre-lunch, it was a touch too early for a cocktail but they looked good too. Music was played off vinyl, behind the counter (sounds are recycled from the late-1960s, though.)





It’s these details that make the Greenhouse successful: the original concept is fantastic, but the realisation is consistently strong throughout.




The form of the building is difficult to discern, and essentially consists of a wedge filling the gap made available by two shards of Fed Square. But you get a good juxtaposition of the greenery against the metal walls hugging it, in turn propped against the chaotic background of Flinders Street. The barn-like main interior space is bathed in light at one end, facing the street; up top, it’d be baking on a hot day but wonderful from dusk onwards. It’s clear that Fed Square works superbly as a platform for these kind of interventions.





Visiting on a sunny morning in early November, there were only a few people kicking around, but by lunchtime it was pleasingly busy, with a great mix of people ensured by Federation Square (a space that really works for Melbourne now). The City’s Rob Adams also deserves credit for fast-tracking it through the approvals processes.




Particularly interesting to me – as a keen if limited urban gardener – is the building as platform and showcase for urban agriculture. A little more could be done to explain the system at work here – which plants make it into the food; how the waste is turned into compost etc. – and the opportunity for increasingly greening all urban spaces with productive planting. I’m trying to move a few projects forward in this area during 2009 …


A simple newspaper-format publication explains in more detail, as does the website – which is a little bereft of many images. With that in mind, all my photos of the Greenhouse are collected in a set at Flickr.



The Greenhouse is installed at Federation Square until end-January 2009.

Greenhouse by Joost
Joost Greenhouse photoset [Flickr]

Incidentally, also to be seen at Fed Square this summer are these fantastic Dali-esque melted skateboards.




10 responses to “Joost Greenhouse, Melbourne”

  1. Jordan Avatar

    This place looks too cool? I love the potato plant walls. Did you have to pay to get in?


  2. Maxine Sherrin Avatar

    Toilets of that design are very common in Japan, and struck me as having been so for some time. It amazed me to see them so common there in a country without such concerns about water shortage, but I am yet to see a single one here. I think they should be mandated by law!


  3. Henry Avatar

    I love the Joost also – I have visited many times and just cant get enough of it and was saddened to hear that fed square wasn’t it’s permanent home. It doesn’t cost anything to get in, though you do have to sign over your email on entry after 4pm (something about an exhibit space and meeting council requirements!)
    And they make you an awesome latte served fresh in an old jam jar!


  4. rob Avatar

    There’s a bit of irony in showcasing skateboards as public art on walls whose copings are festooned with little rods intended to throw skaters off their boards, isn’t there?
    Or maybe its intentional — “warning! we will melt you like these skateboards!”


  5. Celeste Avatar

    I have just found this web site after looking it up – I first heard about it on a television program and was intrigued… I think it is great and can’t wait to go… I think the kids will love it too, everything about it looks so interesting, and educational too…
    I must mention I have walked past it a few times before and not known exactly what it was…Can’t wait!


  6. Bonnie Avatar

    Joost looks great – Melbourne is so good at the urban popup!
    Whether its a shaky economy or short attention spans, temporary installations (or popups) seem to be the way to go right now… Interesting connections between other guerrilla installations like PenthouseMouse, also in Melbourne, or Flash restaurant in London, or the 2007 MOMA urban farm collaboration – P.S.1 – from the New York based Work Architecture Company.
    All provide unexpected opportunity for out of the ordinary urban adventures! But you gotta get in quick!


  7. Jams Avatar

    This is really a nice & helpful information.
    Thanks for this post.


  8. Katie Avatar

    I have been to melbourne before and really appreciated how they have built their city up to include the diverse range of people that reside there. I love all the architecture as we spent a few days walking around and went up the highest building (I forget what it is called now) but we got to see panoramic views of the city.


  9. jual rumah surabaya Avatar

    It’s beyond old paradigm of designing and building human space that never be learned in arhitectural faculty. I highly appreciate all the fresh and brilliant idea. We hope the concept is useful and applicable in other part of the world.


  10. cookie Avatar

    this very ironic seens how there are skate stoppers all along that perfect ledge and there are skate boards showcased as art i mant to meet the person who made this…..i love you…hahaha……………


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