Huy Bui's 'Plant-In City'

Huy Bui’s rectilinear planters are designed to be easily stacked and recombined, a system of terrariums fitting together like blocks of Legos: “It’s a very simple design-language. This language is cubes and rectangles, and their multiples. The axiom is a three-quarter inch piece of plywood. So everything is divisible by three quarters of an inch. Three-quarters, one and a half, six, twelve, etc. It has an ambiguous scale. At 1:1, it might look like a terrarium. But as the scale increases you start to see it as a miniature building.”

This scale and shape allowed the project to act as an ecological device that could be inserted seamlessly into an existing system. Bui, along with Jon Schramm and Carlos Gomez DeLlarena, started the project loosely inspired by Peter Cook’s Plug-In City, a proposal advanced as part of the Archigram conceptual architecture group in 1964 in which large municipal superstructures could be swapped in and out of the urban fabric as needs or circumstances dictate. “That’s how our body works, as well,” Bui said. “The various organs plug into the central nervous system. They’re all interconnected, and speak the same language. The infrastructure is designed around components of a certain form. A car without a road is useless. All systems, ecosystems, any system is based around the interchangeability of certain parts. And what ecologies are based on specifically is interdependence.”