China has one of the biggest air pollution problems in the world, so much so that it is common to wear facemasks while walking in the street. The problem can be lessened by planting more trees which can purify the air. However, how can we do this in cities where there’s a shortage in space for affordable housing, let alone a giant forest?
Italian architect Stefano Boeri has come up with a clever solution. He has designed ‘vertical forests’ – huge office towers covered in plants and shrubs. In the Chinese city of Nanjing, two such buildings are expected to become a reality by the end of 2018.
The buildings will be covered by 1,100 trees and 2,500 cascading shrubs and bushes which should absorb the pollution in the air and help to filter it and make it cleaner.
The creators claim that the towers will absorb 25 tonnes of CO2 per year and produce 60kg of oxygen each day. The taller of the towers will stand 200m high and host everything from a museum and offices to an architecture school specialised in green building. The smaller tower will measure 108m and contain a Hyatt hotel with approximately 250 rooms.
Boeri has designed and built other vertical forests. Between 2009 and 2014, two residential towers of 110 and 76m in height were built in Milan, Italy. Due to 900 trees and over 20,000 plants, in plant terms each building is equal to a 7,000m2 forest. The vegetal system contributes to the construction of a microclimate, produces humidity, absorbs CO2 and dust particles and produces oxygen.
Thanks to a clever combination of architectural style, local amenities and environmental advantages, vertical forests are certainly appealing to the modern world. As more and more people choose to live in cities, the future looks green, vertical and bright.