The Dawn of Vertical Forests

Source: Stefano Boeri Architects

China is out to build a fleet of the most nature-incorporated architectural structures in the world. Construction has begun on Asia’s first vertical forest – the Nanjing Vertical Forest — and is expected to be complete by 2018 thanks to the architectural vision of Stefano Boeri. His vision is to build green settlements of 100 – 200 buildings each, of different heights and sizes, all featuring green rooftops, balconies, and facades. Imagine how city skylines will change colors through the seasons.

The Nanjing Vertical Forest will be similar to Milan’s famous vertical forest building known as Bosco Verticale. This was Boeri’s first vertical forest, consisting of a pair of residential towers completed in 2014. His firm then designed a second demonstration of “metropolitan reforestation” in Lausanne, Switzerland. Boeri points out that his vertical forests have lots of benefits, including creating microclimates, beauty, and muffling noise.
Boeri’s third vertical project is Nanjing Green Towers. Two green towers will stand over the city in the Pukuo District, covered in over 1,100 trees constituting 23 local species, and 2,500 cascading plants. The towers will have 64,600 square feet of planted area. The greenery is expected to absorb 25 tons of carbon dioxide each year while producing 130 pounds of oxygen each day. Serving as green air filters, they will also suck up toxic smog.

Source: Via Verde

Critics point to the need for a more thorough analysis: Buildings that can handle the additional weight of soil and forests will have to be built stronger, requiring more CO2 producing cement. And water will be required for the plants to thrive… another scarce input in many places. But proponents claim that these structures are anti-sprawl devices. They point out that the vertical forests are a viable alternative to urban sprawl.. which is also heavy in its use of concrete. These are alternative urban environments. They allow residents to live close to nature, typically achieved by commuting and living in the suburbs.

In related news, the Via Verde Project in Mexico is transforming highway pillars with plants that cleanse, beautify, and hopefully lower driver stress.