What if you could look out your window to see a tree directly in front of you — when you’re 500 feet in the air? That’s the question that Milan-based architects Stefano Boeri, Gianandrea Barreca and Giovanni La Varrai of Stefano Boeri Architetti have asked and their recent project, Bosco Verticale, indicates that they’re well on their way to answering that very question.
Currently under construction, Bosco Verticale, or “Vertical Forest,” is a residential project in Milan that will house 900 trees, 5,000 bushes and 11,000 plants, which will be planted across the balconies of two towers between 300 and 550 feet high. Ultimately, Bosco Verticale takes the concept of a rooftop garden and expands it to incorporate not just the roof of the building, but the exterior walls and porches. By doing so, more space is made available for planting and the aesthetic product is especially eye-catching.
Biophilic design is not unheard of, but the extent of this project is unique and comes with many additional environmental attributes given its scope and size, namely reduced heat island effect, decreased air pollution, reduced noise pollution and increased urban wildlife. Overall beautification of the city is another important benefit.
Plants, the focus of design, must be carefully selected, taking into account their ultimate height and durability as well as structural pruning and maintenance requirements. Chosen trees, for example, must withstand high wind, variable temperatures and weather patterns that will be more extreme than on the ground level. Trees also need to be initially well rooted so as not to fall from such great heights as they grow.
Taking into account the obvious and necessary precautions, the vertical forest is a modern, fun and implementable concept that will hopefully catch on in other cities throughout the world. Biophilic designs, like the vertical forest, are particularly popular within progressive cities that understand the importance of addressing climate change while acknowledging the intrinsic human-to-nature relationship, a relationship that has long been ignored by traditional urban design.
Photo Credit: Rene Schwietzke