Baumann, whose art ranks among 40 visions for the future of architecture exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, believes that plants posted in buildings often serve as a distraction from a structure’s less sustainable assets.

She points out that green surfaces like walls and roofs are demanding in terms of maintenance and need a great quantity of water and chemicals to survive. She also believes that, while a great quantity of new developments are integrating vertical forests, green roofs, urban farms and living walls, they must be planned and executed in just the right way to be beneficial. Otherwise, they may result in reduced biodiversity and heightened pollution levels.

A decade ago, a London council was accused of spending £100,000 on the UK’s first living wall—one on which all the plants perished. The structure was created to replenish the park lands destroyed when a children’s centre was constructed onsite, but within three years the wall stood brown and withered.

Since that time, a number of new developments have come complete with green walls and roofs, as communities fight the pollution and flooding problems that can come as part and parcel of sustainable architecture.

Baumann does say that the trend toward plant-covered buildings is positive in the long run, as the presence of plants in urban areas can enhance air quality, reduce pollution, create a cooling island, promote biodiversity, and promote residents’ physical and mental well-being. She simply believes that landscape architects must be given a more significant role when it comes to the placement of greenery in city planning. They comprehend the use of open spaces and natural processes and are crucial to enable the creation of truly sustainable cities.

Baumann’s piece concerning the lives of plants and their role in a post-Anthropocene landscape is part of an exhibit on display at the Royal Academy of Arts, entitled, What is radical today?

Curated by Gonzalo Herrero Delicado, the exhibit is a display of 40 projects from architects that include Peter Cook, Denise Scott Brown and Dezeen columnist Sam Jacob.

Parliament of Plants, Baumann’s contribution, stands as an adaption of an 18th century painting by Karl Anton Hickel, and presents a group of Caucasian male politicians seated in the UK House of Commons—the images of their faces replaced by plants. At this time, she explains, imperial governments sponsored colonial excursions of scientific exploration, imperial conquests, and global trade. Greenery such as palms, bamboos, arums, rubber trees, and cactuses were highly desired commodities at that time; and if the vegetable world view had prevailed, the world might be a different place—one more open to race, gender, normativity, inclusivity, ecology and climate change. Plants are diverse in so many ways—and by embracing their own diversity and communion with the earth, humans can reflect the same divine qualities.