Metro Cities: Buildings branch out as vertical forests grow in city centres
As land is gobbled up by cities, some urban locales are seeing a return to nature in a way only humans could devise: vertical forests.
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In recent years, architects and designers have been turning nature upside down — or, really, on its side — and stacking up plants and trees the way they’ve been stacking up people for decades. Many believe putting plants high in the sky can be key to maintaining the balance between cities and nature by providing animal habitat, biodiversity, and pollution-fighting forces.
Recognized by many as the impetus for the modern green tower movement, Stefano Boeri’s Vertical Forest in Milan, Italy is a gargantuan green beacon in the city, and in the sustainable architecture scene. Opened in 2014, the residential towers house 900 trees and 20,000 shrubs, an amount that would require 20,000 square metres on a flat surface, according to the architect. Cited by many as a pioneer, Boeri says he’s happy to be copied by other experimental city builders.
Shaped like DNA, this luxury, 40-unit condo tower will open this fall in Taipei, Taiwan. The 20-storey building designed by architect Vincent Callebaut features 23,000 trees and shrubs on the roof, facade, balconies and inside the halls — said to be more than New York's Central Park. All the greenery will absorb 27-cars' worth of carbon dioxide every year, Callebaut told Business Insider.
Beirut-based J.M. Bonfils took inspiration for this residential tower, with an art gallery on the main floor, from its surroundings in downtown. After a nearby public garden was closed to the masses, Bonfils stuck the plants up on the wall for all to see in what he calls a more space-efficient vertical garden.
Maison Edouard François designed the M6B2 Tower of Biodiversity with chainlink cladding to allow plants to crawl up the outside and spread their seeds far and wide across Paris. The 50-metre tower was exempted from the city’s height restrictions, a feature the architects say is key to making the project an effective way to boost biodiversity.
The Liuzhou Forest City is not Italian architect and urban planner Stefano Boeri’s first foray into the world of living buildings, but it may be his most grand. If realized, The Boeri Studio-designed city nestled in southern China’s mountain area of Guangxi would be home to 30,000 people alongside 40,000 trees and over one million plants. The goal is to create a self-sustaining development that absorbs pollution and produces oxygen.