A vertical forest….or trees on buildings

We’ll see more of this sort of nonsense in the near future.  Tall buildings designed with lots of green stuff in order to make us think they are kinder and gentler.  Remember, we are a land species.  So are trees.  The energy to make this system work will be unavailable in the very near future (despite the architect saying that these buildings will create energy….).

The solution to human habitation is right before our eyes:  villages – wherever around the world, though I’m partial to Italian ones –  that have lasted for 1000 years.  What do they do that works?  What must we learn from them?


World’s First Vertical Forest Being Built in Milan Plus “The Cult ‘Green Building’ of the Moment”

By Joe Romm Climate Progress

The 27-story Bosco Verticale in Milan, designed by Stefano Boeri as the world’s first ‘vertical forest’.  Click to enlarge.

If you can’t plant a forest horizontally in a dense urban setting, how about vertically?  The architect explains his design on his website here:

Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) is a project for metropolitan reforestation that contributes to the regeneration of the environment and urban biodiversity without the implication of expanding the city upon the territory. Bosco Verticale is a model of vertical densification of nature within the city….

The first example of a Bosco Verticale composed of two residential towers of 110 and 76 meters height, will be realized in the centre of Milan, on the edge of the Isola neighbourhood, and will host 900 trees (each measuring 3, 6 or 9 m tall) apart from a wide range of shrubs and floral plants.

On flat land, each Bosco Verticale equals, in amount of trees, an area equal to 10,000 sqm of forest. In terms of urban densification the equivalent of an area of single family dwellings of nearly 50,000 sqm.

The Bosco Verticale is a system that optimizes, recuperates and produces energy. The Bosco Verticale aids in the creation of a microclimate and in filtering the dust particles contained in the urban environment. The diversity of the plants and their characteristics produce humidity, absorb CO2 and dust particles, producing oxygen and protect from radiation and acoustic pollution, improving the quality of living spaces and saving energy. Plant irrigation will be produced to great extent through the filtering and reuse of the grey waters produced by the building. Additionally Aeolian and photovoltaic energy systems will contribute, together with the aforementioned microclimate to increase the degree of energetic self sufficiency of the two towers….

Christopher Woodward, director of London’s Garden Museum, has the story on “Living Architecture” with lots of images in the Financial Times.  He reports that in this case, the green design “adds only 5% to construction costs.”

Woodward has a great figure on Harmonia 57, an office block in São Paolo, which he calls “the cult ‘green building’ of the moment”:

Read Less


Chart of Harmonia 57 hydration system

In Harmonia 57 mist is collected in an ingenious system of pipes, then used to water plants that grow in porous concrete walls.

Here is a longer story on Harmonia 57:

The office building “Harmonia 57” in São Paulo is a hybrid of building, sculpture and machine, which, with its informal outwardly appearance, blends in perfectly with the urban chaos of the city inhabited by 11 million people. For the innovative building concept, the French-Brazilian architecture firm Triptyque received the main prize in this year’s Zumtobel Group Award.

Back to Bosco Verticale, “the first element in [Boeri’s] proposed BioMilano, in which a green belt is created around the city and 60 abandoned farms on the outskirts are restored to community use.”

Here is a cross-section:

A cross-section of Bosco Verticale

The architect has more images on his website that spell out  all of the environmental benefits of his design:


The biggest issue I can see is what happens to the trees and branches in a severe storm with high winds.

Still, a very original conception, and need a lot of such original ideas in the coming years and decades.



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