TESTO: Wild idea became a wild reality

Interview with the architects behind one of our most creative projects to date. A 55-meter-long plant spiral hangs in the middle of the global company Testo’s headquarter. It started with a wild idea that turned into a wild reality.


Testo is headquartered in one of Germany’s most famous natural areas “The Black Forest”. The old trees stretch over 160 kilometers in length and 50 kilometers in width and surround the modern and beautiful building of Testo – and nature actually extends even further, all the way inside of the building.

Gerhard Zemp and Francisco Bouzas from Aplantis AG are the architects behind the impressive living spiral, and they had a clear goal when it came to the design:

“Testo is located in the middle of a large nature area – and we wanted to bring that nature inside. It should be green, natural and sustainable,” says Gerhard Zemp and continues:

“The customer agreed. He wanted some new and wild ideas. He had seen a lot of big, green and exotic projects around the world, and he wanted to bring it back to his headquarters. So, we were on quite an assignment.”





Blumen Sumser e.K.

Our services

Plant columns, plant spiral, counseling and installation

Products and sizes

2 hanging plant columns, 2 standing plant columns and a plant spiral of 55 meter

Wild ideas meet practical reality at TESTO

It is definitely not imagination that the two architects from Aplantis lack. They quickly started devising solutions and concepts, and they ended up with an idea they couldn’t forget again, says Gerhard Zemp:

“We are usually very creative and innovative. So, in the beginning, we just drew some lines through the large atrium that connected the floors. And it actually worked really well on paper. Luckily the customer thought so too. Our specialty is big and new ideas. So now the real work began: to make it work in reality”

After researching the market for existing solutions, they found the Natural Greenwalls-system. A system that has proven itself mainly in the form of large green walls and stationary plant columns, but it seemed flexible enough to bring the architects’ thoughts to reality.

“It was not easy to find something that matched what we had drawn. Both the product and most importantly the company behind it had to be flexible and we had to trust them. Fortunately, we found Natural Greenwalls,” Gerhard Zemp says. So, a meeting was set up and luckily it turned out that the collaboration worked really well.

“Both Natural Greenwalls product and staff were very cooperative, helpful and understanding – but also realistic. It was a really good collaboration between us, as the creatives, and Natural Greenwalls as the practical ones.”

Francisco Bouzas agrees that the collaboration worked well. And that was fortunate, because the two architects had promised the client great things. Francisco Bouzas tells:

“We were very dependent on Natural Greenwalls, their staff and that it all worked as promised. However, with the team Natural Greenwalls had sent to set it up, everything was top professionals. They were very constructive instead of negative, and they solved all the challenges that arose.”

Hanging and standing plant columns

Greenery as part of the architecture - but why?

The two architects agree that greenery is important in modern architecture. But it should not only be because greenery is pretty. There needs to be more behind the greenery. This is what Francisco Bouzas says:

“Greenery are an integral part of all architecture. But in many projects they only use greenery for decoration – we want it to be more than that. It must be considered as part of HR, facility management, architecture and all other facets of the company.”

He is backed by his partner:

“Greenery is important for many reasons. It is good for the indoor climate, acoustics, mental health and signals a sustainable profile. But for us it must be green in a different way than usual,” says Gerhard Zemp.

“Nature is a living thing. So, if you take nature inside, then it must also be alive inside. That’s why we like organic and mobile solutions. In the forest there is wind, the trees move, the light falls differently. It is fantastic. We have to bring that inside.”

This is the idea of ​​the plant spiral that now grows in the large atrium of Testo.

“Real green art”

Although Gerhard Zemp and Francisco Bouzas are essentially against stationary green solutions, their love has nevertheless fallen on Natural Greenwalls’ plant columns. The plant columns ability to both hang from the ceiling and grow from the ground makes them very flexible, and the two architects saw a potential to create some very special optical illusions.

“When we make stationary solutions, such as with the plant columns, it must contribute with something extraordinary. The plant columns are exciting because the optics change depending on where you are. They extend over several floors, looking different on each floor and around each corner. It is real green art,” says Gerhard Zemp, and Francisco Bouzas continues:

“The columns fit perfectly where they are. Natural Greenwalls is an impressive system because it is so flexible, and here it shows that it can both hang from the ceiling and grow from the floor. So even though the plant columns are “banal” in our minds, it is still one of my favorites, and it looks fantastic. ”

Status of the project 1 year later:

Even though it is now 1 year since the two architects officially handed over the project, they regularly follow up on how it is going. Both Gerhard Zemp and Francisco Bouzas say that they often tell others about the project and shows pictures, and the reaction is always the same:

“Other architects and gardeners are very surprised that it is possible to build this plant spiral and that it works so well. Architects are generally afraid to try something new. We are not, so now they can “Copy + Paste” a solution that works, and that’s very exciting, “says Gerhard, and again Francisco adds:

“Our customer (Testo) is still very satisfied a year later. It works perfectly, the gardener does a great job, and Natural Greenwalls’ irrigation system makes it easy to service. So, this is one of those projects that we are very proud to talk about, because it shows what is possible when you have a vision and a professional partner who can help get it through.”

When they are asked to draw a conclusion on the project, the collaboration and the result after a year, they have no doubt, says Francisco Bouzas:

“There had to be some compromises between our creative ideas and the practical possibilities – but with Natural Greenwalls as a partner, we have really found a solution that we proudly show off and that we would like to recommend to everyone else.”