The Greenhouse Effect


A closed outdoor section of Greenhouse Perth – for foodies to sit, relax and pick strawberries.

A quick-order window for a snappy and fresh take-away.

A closed outdoor section of Greenhouse Perth – for foodies to sit, relax and pick strawberries.

Greenhouse Perth, by the ENEX 100 building at St Georges with 3,000 strawberry pots lining the exterior walls.

A quick-order window for a snappy and fresh take-away.

Greenhouse Perth, as it nears completion in 2009. Entrance on the far left, pick-up window in the center and outdoor space to the right. It also hides an accessible bar and garden on the roof.

Photo by melpenguinThe interior of Greenhouse Sydney – cool atmosphere, recyclable furnishings, fresh flowers, a harbor view and eco- menu- facts on the wall for you to decipher.

Photo by melpenguin
The shipping containers that bring in the Greenhouse Sydney pieces together are part of the design. The mural on the side is the work of Australian artist David Bromley.

Photo by melpenguin
The imposing Dynasty Living – an artist impression.

Text : Lawrence Julius – Photos : Grace Forde

A modern-day oasis in the heart of Perth takes “waste” to a whole new level. And it doesn’t need to shout to make a statement.

The Greenhouse St Georges Terrace in Australia is an exciting café and bar. It serves a menu with ingredients freshly grown on the roof, in an environment made 100% from recyclable material, built in only six weeks. This radical concept gives ecological designing and business practice a whole new meaning.

This unique structure in the center of Perth’s Central Business District (CBD) is the brainchild of Joost Bakker. Bakker is a designer of Dutch descent who migrated to Australia with his family of flower growers when he was nine. His eye for art and passion for sustainability undoubtedly translated from his background in the cultivation practice right onto his canvas – producing Greenhouse by Joost.

Greenhouse was set in motion when Corina Baldwin, founder of Bigger Than Ten Bears (bttb) wanted a solution to reduce post-event wastage. Bigger Than Ten Bears is a boutique event management company in Melbourne. The idea of an eco-friendly ‘pop-up’ venue was born, using environmentally un-impactful materials and methods; one that is waste-free to ‘pop-down’ as well. Joost himself was already working on an experimental veil of pot-plants on his own home, an environment-changing concept known as ‘vertical gardens’. He was to devise a combination of both concepts, and implement it.

The Greenhouse by Joost marked its birth, and unveiled in November 2008. This first installment of Greenhouse was built into a gap in Federation Square, Melbourne. It was an opportunistic, but temporary installment to showcase the green pop-up concept – built in 14 days, disassembled in less. The project costs AU$ 1.4 million (RM4.33 million). The entire set-up fits into five ship containers, with all the components needed, from the walls to the toilet to the kitchen (see Five Containers). In this temporary arrangement, the containers will have their purpose as well. Stacked at the side of the Greenhouse one of them will even act as a water container for the garden.

This creative new retail concept certainly amassed a lot of attention especially with the eye-catching exterior walls, lined with pots of strawberry plants as well as potatoes (used in the salad of course), taken from the vertical garden concept.

The kitchen is stocked with only local produce and the menu changes with the availability of herbs and vegetables grown on the roof. The rooftop also doubles as an open space bar surrounded by the gardens. After three months and a more-than-welcoming reception, the search for a permanent location began.

Now a hotspot, the Greenhouse St. Georges Terrace in Perth opened its doors in late 2009 after only six weeks of construction. This time Joost teamed up with restaurateur Paul Aran and Jason Chan to name a few, forming a brilliant team of people for the project. Just like its predecessor in Melbourne, the walls of the Greenhouse has an external cladding of corrugated iron with the vertical wall garden made from steel mesh and terracotta pots. As many as 3,000 strawberry plants with ivies cover the vertical walls of the Greenhouse, capturing the attention of passers-by in the busy CBD.

The roof, an integral part of Greenhouse, is a habitat on its own. The floor is laid with linoleum made from natural linseed while the planting soil is made out of composted organic waste and bio-char. Here plants are grown and re-grown, picked fresh for the kitchen and served tastily onto the plates of customers. Energy efficient LED grow-lights are used to stimulate growth for plants, while water used on the garden filters through the soil and collects in a container to be reused. Sustainability is the clear aim. A worm farm can also be found here, where organic waste from the kitchen and bar is processed into rich vermicast for the plants.

Joost’s Greenhouse is not just a science project by any means; it encapsulates the knowledge of engineers, architects, scientists, farmers and chefs to develop the concept and processes involved. It has excelled in concept, but more importantly thrived in implementation. The question of insulation for example, which is an integral part of any build, is solved in the form of straw-bales. Hundreds of these climate controllers line the walls and ceilings to keep the interiors cool. Straw is also termite resistant, so pests are not an issue. 

Approximately 1,102 sq ft of construction site is required for the building of this sustainable structure. Just like any Greenhouse by Joost settlement, the ingredients are brought-in via 40-foot shipping containers for a snappy assembly. Even the Greenhouse’s frame is made from light gauge steel, which is durable and 100% recyclable. A machine will shape-out the steel for the body using specs in a Framecad system on-site, meaning there’s no wastage here either. Cladding and surfaces, made from recycled ply-wood and plastic, are there to behold raw and unpolished, giving a rustic and contemporary form of feel and art. Furnishings are made from disused irrigation pipes, billboards, crates – anything recyclable goes with Joost.

Simple yet efficient methods have been implemented here, and with the advantage of technology of our time, it helps the sustainability efforts. Electricity is supplied via a bio-diesel generator where used cooking oil is converted into diesel by a processor and used as fuel. There are no trash cans, everything is recycled and 100% waste-free. In the washroom, a toilet with an integrated hand-basin recycles water from washing your hands, directly to the flush tank. Even the staff wears recycled t-shirts, some salvaged from election campaigns.

Think about it: Could these be adaptable ideas for property developers and business owners?

Now that it proved a success in Melbourne and Perth, Greenhouse by Joost has embarked on a world tour. Temporary Greenhouses will be sprouting soon enough. Kick-starting the green tour – Joost and his team erected a Greenhouse in Sydney earlier this year and will plan their steps all the way to Europe in a number of cities, like Milan and London. This innovative Greenhouse by Joost has set its own benchmark for others to follow, and hopes to inspire more around the globe.

At the end of the day, the Greenhouse is not only a fresh eatery, a preview of technology, an ingenious business concept, a showcase of design and art, but also a testament to sustainability and the human ability to create rather than destroy.

It is a message bold yet unashamed, radical but simple, subtle but heard.

Five Containers

Container 1 – steel frame, exterior and interior cladding, roofing, pre-assembled windows, all building fixings, container will be lined with bladder to collect water for gardens
Container 2 – pre-built stairs, rooftop access, disabled toilet
Container 3 – pre-fitted kitchen and bar
Container 4 – toilets
Container 5 – rooftop bar, Bio-Pro bio-diesel converter to power generator

Greenhouse by Joost

Greenhouse Perth
Permanent, launched
December 2009
Designer – Joost Bakker
Co-designer – Fitt De Felice
Project Management – Liquid Lines
Location – St Georges Terrace
Cost – AU$ 1.6 mil (RM4.95 mil)

Greenhouse Melbourne
Temporary, November 2008 –
January 2009
Location – Federation Square

Greenhouse Sydney
Temporary, February 2011 –
March 2011
Location – Campbell’s Cove,
The Rocks

Products Specs (World Tour Specs)

Kitchen, Forbo linoleum
Restaurant, Reclaimed
Caterpillar Pallets
Roof-top, Atlantis recycled flooring tiles

Custom design by Joost Bakker
Galvanised, steel frame
Viridian double glazed glass

Walls and Ceiling
Mgo Board and reconstituted plywood

Custom light shades by Joost Bakker
Queen B, pure bees wax candles designed by Joost Bakker
Parus, LED grow lights

Kitchen & Bathroom
Plaspanel (100% recycled plastic), sinks and benches
Miele kitchen appliances
Caroma, Profile 5 toilets with integrated hand-basin and Dorf taps
Caroma, Zero2 Urinals

All furniture custom designed by Joost Bakker
Recycled wafer-board chairs and reconstituted plywood tables
Courtyard chairs made from street signs
Courtyard tables made from street-side fire hydrant covers
Merbau timber rooftop stools, upholstered in roadside billboards


Cooking oil converted using a BIO PRO
150 into Diesel BioDiesel Generator by Caterpillar

Check out the Greenhouse at www.greenhouseperth.com or www.joost.com.au