Milan’s “Vertical Forest” a Breakthrough in Green Architecture

By Craig Lewis
Buddhistdoor Global | 2016-08-01 |
Milan's Bosco Verticale in June 2016. From wikimedia.orgMilan's Bosco Verticale in June 2016. From

As environmental concerns are pushed to the forefront of our daily lives with a growing sense of urgency, innovative architecture with an eye towards sustainability is becoming increasingly commonplace. One revolutionary piece of inner-city design aimed at making the urban jungle a little greener is Italy’s Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), two towers of leafy organic life in the northern Italian city of Milan, with some 900 trees and more than 2,000 plants bursting from its façade.

Inaugurated in the city’s historic central business district in October 2014 after a three-year construction period, Bosco Verticale’s revolutionary approach to urban architecture has already garnered two major awards. A month after it was completed, Bosco Verticale won the prestigious “International Highrise Award,” bestowed every two years by the city of Frankfurt and Deutsches Architekturmuseum, beating out five finalists selected from 26 nominees in 17 countries. Late last year at a ceremony in Chicago, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) awards jury selected Bosco Verticale as the overall “2015 Best Tall Building Worldwide.”

“The Vertical Forest is an expression of the human need for contact with nature,” said Christoph Ingenhoven, president of the 2014 International Highrise Award jury. “It is a radical and daring idea for the cities of tomorrow, and without a doubt represents a model for the development of densely populated urban areas in other European countries.” (Arch Daily)

As well as being a uniquely beautiful addition to Milan’s skyline, the radical arboreal design of Bosco Verticale’s two towers—one 76 meters high, the other 110 meters—offers a host of practical benefits. Insulating the buildings’ residential units from the noise of the city and the weather, the vegetation helps to reduce the glare of the hot sun during summer months and retain heat during the winter, reducing overall energy consumption. In addition, the trees and plants help to filter smog from Milan’s air while providing a source of clean oxygen. 

Bosco Verticale, which boasts far more greenery than could be supported by the building’s footprint alone, is also equipped with solar panels and a complex integrated gray-water recycling and irrigation system that redirects water used by residents to sustain the structure’s plant life. Growing the trees took two years alone, and each of them has to be carefully pruned to fit its growing space. Condo owners are required to pay for the regular maintenance and care of the trees.

“It is a model of vertical densification of nature within the city that operates in relation to policies for reforestation and naturalization of large urban and metropolitan borders,” said the project’s designer, Italian architectural firm Stefano Boeri Architecti. “On flat land, each Vertical Forest equals, in amount of trees, an area of 7,000 square meters of forest.” (Stefano Boeri Architetti)

The interdisciplinary team that worked on bringing the project to life included horticulturalists and botanists as well as engineers, who had to research the wind resistance of certain species of tree, as well as sourcing a lightweight substrate that would meet the nutritional requirements of the building’s  plant life.

A vertical “skyfarm” housing hundreds of trees and hydroponic crop farms has been proposed for downtown Seoul. From aprilli.comA vertical “skyfarm” housing hundreds of trees and hydroponic crop farms has been proposed for downtown Seoul. From

While it remains to be seen whether such innovative architectural adventures will become the norm in our cities, Bosco Verticale is not an isolated phenomenon. Stefano Boeri Architetti is already working on a similar project in Lausanne, Switzerland, due to be completed in 2017, while in Australia, what may become the world’s tallest vertical forest is under construction at One Central Park in Sydney. Meanwhile, Aprilli Design Studio has proposed a vertical “skyfarm” for downtown Seoul housing trees and hydroponic crop farms in a structure itself shaped like an enormous tree. Each of these projects holds the promise of a greener future for urban living.

See more

The Best Tall Building in 2015 Is Covered in Trees (Slate)
Great heights: The 2015 world's Best Tall Building is a towering forest (Wallpaper)
A "Vertical Forest" Towers Above Milan's Skyline (The Science Explorer)
Bosco Verticale: The World's "Most Beautiful and Innovative Highrise" (Arch Daily)
VERTICAL FOREST (Stefano Boeri Architetti)
URBAN SKYFARM (Aprilli Design Studio)



Revolutionary Self-sustaining Eco-village Planned in the Netherlands (Buddhistdoor Global)

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