Here’s a nice update on a previous building of the week – Bosco Verticale, the residential tower blocks in Milan that were designed to create a ‘vertical forest’. After the success of that project, architect Stefano Boeri has had a lot of interest in the idea and a number of other projects have been suggested. Unsurprising, given that these forested towers reduce heating and cooling needs, improve air and noise pollution, lower the urban heat island effect and improve urban biodiversity. And they look brilliant.
Nowhere has shown more interest in the idea than China, where Boeri has worked on an airport terminal, hotels, parks, an office, and a series of large scale concepts. Work is underway on a new tower in Nanjing that will incorporate a museum, a hotel, and a school of sustainable architecture.
It’s appropriate that this has taken off in China. For one thing, it suffers more than most from urban sprawl and air pollution, so it could really benefit from more trees in the city. It’s got money to spend on architecture and cities that aren’t shy of prestige projects. But it’s something more than that: in its aesthetics, it feels very much at home in China. Some of the country’s most iconic landscapes are the limestone formations known as karst topography. These look for all the world as if nature has already built a city of forested towers, and perhaps they even inspired Milan’s in the first place. So there’s an authenticity to vertical forests in China, they look like they belong in the landscape, and I can see why there is so much interest.
As the Guardian reported last week, Boeri has grand plans in China, with a proposal to build whole forested cities as a response to the air pollution crisis. He may well get to do it, and in the meantime others are learning the techniques and applying them. There’s a forested residential block under construction in Melbourne, one in Cairo and in Taipei. Others have been working along similar lines for years, making Boeri part of a trend. WOHA in Singapore design forested buildings in quite a different style. Progetto CMR in Italy design green buildings under the philosophy ‘less ego more eco’. Vincent Callebaud’s visionary green architecture has been largely theoretical, but he has a couple of projects under construction and I look forward to writing about those another time.
I’m a big fan of these buildings. I’ve spent contented evenings building them in Minecraft. I look forward to more of them springing up in real life.