Cacti are having something of a moment this summer. From a pop-up store in New York City with thousands of plants transported from Los Angeles to this incredible property in Joshua Tree, the spiky succulents seem to be everywhere—including in Madrid, where one of Europe’s biggest cactus centers has recently opened on a former wasteland.
Designed by local firm GarciaGerman Arquitectos, Desert City is a biotechnology nursery that celebrates all things xerophytic (plants that require little water to survive) through educational, cultural, and commercial events in an expansive complex that includes a greenhouse, garden, exhibition space, a restaurant, shop, and offices.
Its construction is that of a "billboard building," with elevated horizontal expanses of glass sitting parallel to the road and connecting the greenhouse space (topped by a cable tension roof) on one end to another smaller area on the opposite. A cloister-like outdoor garden with water features centers the complex and extends beyond a glazed walkway, inviting visitors in.
Prefabricated elements, along with sustainable solutions like photovoltaic glass, geothermal power, and water recovery systems combine to create a dynamic center that not only exhibits, grows, and breeds cacti, but also offers the public a range of activities. Desert City boasts 5,000 square meters (about 54,000 square feet) of experimental botanical gardens and over 400 xerophytic species. Watch a video below.