As a belated follow up to this post I stumbled across the 'urban garden' below in the entrance to the Melbourne central shopping mall.
The oddest thing about this structure is that the plants appear to be plastic.
Commenting on my CH2 post in this excellent piece Owen Hatherley surmises:
"Infantile as this is, the face of green urbanism has to 'look' green".
Here we see a wonderful extension of this logic, where the aesthetics of 'being green' have detached completely from the actual business of environmentalism. Not only are the plants synthetic, but the infrastructure covered by the plants appears to have no discernible environmental benefits. It is not solar-powered, or self-sustaining; it's a bog standard shopping mall wall plastered with the totemic feel-good symbol of "greenery" (one thinks here of the UK supermarkets lobbying to have the standards of "organic" produce lowered in order to offer lower quality produce for lower prices but with the word "organic" on the packet in a nice green pastoral font). Behind the plastic flowers is the plastic illusion of holistic conscience. It's a PR man's allotment.
If you look at a genuine working man's allotment you will see a real embodiment of urban greenery; scruffy & surrounded by dirty metal and concrete. The Melbourne Central greenery is the polar opposite of this. Underneath its "organic" facade is the synthetic obscenity of a hardcore LA porn film.