The architect creating “forests that people look up”
In general, you see forest views widely; however, a “forest that you look up” that towers up in a vertical way has emerged in overseas cities in recent years. The forests born in these cities called “Vertical Forest” are residential buildings where people live.
The two residential towers built by Stefano Boeri, an Italian architect, in Milan are 80 meters and 112 meters high respectively. About 20,000 trees, shrubs, and plants are planted in these buildings. It is equivalent to more than 20,000 square meters or more of forestland. These plants absorb 30 tons of carbon dioxide and produce 19 tons of oxygen a year. In 2018, the Vertical Forest was named among finalists for the RIBA International Prize, honoring the world’s best new buildings.
Boeri said in an interview with CNN: “To enlarge green surfaces inside and around our living city is one of the most efficient ways to try to reverse climate change. A vertical forest is one of the possible ways to enlarge biological surfaces, in the horizontal and the vertical.” It is a building like breathing organisms. In addition, more than 15 different species and wild birds live on each floor.
Boeri emphasizes that the architectural project’s success will be made in spreading the concept of Vertical Forest to the world. Some plans for new Vertical Forest buildings in European cities including Treviso in Italy, Lausanne in Switzerland and Utrecht in the Netherlands have already been unveiled. In Liuzhou, Guangxi, he has been working on a master plan for “Forest City,” scheduled for completion in 2020. It is a magnificent plan to turn the entire city into a forest, with tree-covered houses, hospitals, schools, and government offices over a sprawling about 1.4-million-square-meter site.
A research is required for these plans to understand which species of plants and trees will flourish in each location. Levels of humidity, wind, and sunlight are the most challenging variables, and before opening his Milan towers, Boeri spent two years observing the growth of different plants. Based on the research, he used only those that proved to be of good growth.
Vertical Forest seems to be attractive for urban people who are green-starved. On the other hand, some people may have doubts about that average people can live in houses built by world-class architects. Boeri shows his willingness on this point as well. In the Dutch city of Eindhoven, the 19-story, 125-unit tower based on the concept of the Vertical Forest will be built as public housing. Boeri says, “We have reduced the cost of construction and used prefabrication for the facade without reducing the number of trees or plants. I want to demonstrate that it’s possible to put together the two main issues for the future of our cities: climate change and poverty.”
Vertical Forest has high possibility to spread to cities around the world in the future. One of the reasons is that Boeri has waived copyright. He said, “We didn’t put any kind of copyright because we know well the social value of this kind of building. There will be architects and urban planners who realize buildings based on the same philosophy as we’ve done, and it’s already happening. I’m very happy to see that.” Boeri’s philosophy of sharing and not monopolizing social values is showing a sustainable way of life.