Author Archives: derhess

Vertical Garden – the construction process

I chose a bottom to top approach for my construction. Because of the lack of time for finishing the construction in three days, I decided to start with the smallest elements of the construction and then go bigger and bigger.

I had to implement a flexible rotatable  joint for the tubs. For this reason I started with one bar and added the first joint.


Construction bar sketch

Between the nut and the screw head I placed a distance piece. This distance piece was an old heating pipe (top left picture). I polished the ends so that the friction is minimized. Additionally, I put a second nut at the end of the first nut, and twisted them against each other. This a common approach (top right picture) that the first nuts does not get lost after many rotatations.

garden: bar joints

the final construction of a bar

The rotation worked really well even without any additional weight of a tub. During testing by hand I reallized that I drilled the holes on the wrong way. But at the end I figured out that the stupid fail has a much better leverage impact than what I planned before. So sometimes failure becomes a feature 😉

Afterwards I created a second bar and melted a prototype suspension. Next step was to implement a good leverage effect for the whole construction. I wanted to lift the construction with a rope hoist. Unfortunately, this approach did not work well because the force was directed vertically. This had no impact to the rotation at all. It is obvious for everyone, who has some really basic knowledge about forces. However, I looked for a solution for get an initial rotation. During practical testing I realized if the construction is lifted around 30-15° than it works fine with a hoist. For this reason, I melted a small lever arm at the top end of the bar.

garden lever arm

Lever arm

After testing I had to realize, it works much better but with real weight of the plants, it still won’t be easy to lift. So I improved the construction, but it was not enough.

After some guidance with the teacher it was obvious that the forces had to be routed not directly. We suggested that a triangle ficture should solve this problem. To figure out which is the best position and distance of the 3rd bar I drilled a few more holes in the bar. Afterwards I could really easy experiment with the best measurements. The result was that it was not so important where the 3rd bar was placed on the other bar. The length of the 3rd bar was much more important. During testing I figured out that the 3rd bar should be placed at the last half of the bar and it should be around 1m.


triangle testing approach

In the end it worked really well and it is now very easy to lift.


the final result

Vertical Garden – First Prototype from der hess on Vimeo.

Vertical Gardening for urban environments

Walls in cities deliver an huge amount of space. Mostly this kind of space is very often unused. Vertical Gardening could be an approach for making this kind of space used for a more sustainable city infrastructure. In my installation I focused on walls, which are close to canals and rivers.


Vertical Gardening approaches with lifting functionality.


Some more information and links about the topic of Vertical Gardening:

My construction is a mix of the rain water gutter and the window garden. It will be fixed on the top of a wall and can be tilt up and down along the wall. The advantage of this approach is that it does not limit the funtion of the wall as a bank.

vertical garden front

Vertical Garden installation – Front view

Vertical Garden (down)

Vertical Garden – down position

Vertical Garden - tilt up

Vertical Garden – tilt up movement

Research and some inspirations on Mechanic stuff

The Website contains some animations about the basics of mechanism and theit applications. They are dealing with engines, power generation, gear mechanisms, linkage mechanisms, pumps, straight line mechanics, thermodynamics mechanics, pneumatic systems and and…


Furthermore, Make Magazine has very often some nice tutorials, too. The Math Monday column especially, I like very much. The tutorials about Linkages (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4) are pretty helpful.


Similar to the Linkage topic is the research about motion structure by Zhong You. Related to this, Ben Hopson uses kinetic mechanism for designing his daily life objects.


Back to the human kind, the topic Object theater (german) gives me some nice inspiration how people can interact with objects and different materials. Even the combination of Origami and Fashion is quite interesting to watch. The domain Animatronics is a quite old but still very important field in the film industry. Gustav Hoegen is doing an amazing work (video).

Object theater