Skip to main content

Buildings that breathe: Italian architect’s ‘Vertical Forest’ to sprout in China

1125414 autosave v1 3 verticalgardentower 09
Italian architect Stefano Boeri has a penchant for designing living, breathing buildings. It began in Milan with the Bosco Verticale (Italian for “Vertical Forest”), two looming skyscrapers covered in thousands of trees, shrubs, and flowering plants.

The environmental idea was simple: grow the number of plants on the building that would otherwise grow on the ground it will occupy. Offset the structure’s physical footprint by using the building as a growing space. In the case of the original Vertical Forest, that included nearly 12,000 square yards of forest.

But Boeri was also concerned with aesthetics. “The idea of the Vertical Forest was born several years ago, as a way to contrast what had become a stylistic trend in the architecture of skyscrapers,” Boeri told Digital Trends via email, “[That is,] the excessive amount of glass on facades and the thermal effects that it has in our cities.” Boeri set biodiversity as the end goal. “From this reflection came the idea to include not only green surfaces but also trees that could … reduce the amount of CO2 and dust particles in the atmosphere,” he said.

Following the success of Milan’s vertical forests, Boeri and his studio were commissioned for another pair of towers in Lausanne, Switzerland. Now, Stefano Boeri Architects will oversee a third pair of buildings in Nanjing, China.

Some 600 tall trees, 500 smaller trees, and 2,500 plants and shrubs will call the Nanjing’s Vertical Forest home, grown from concrete pots built into the balconies. With that many plants, the buildings have the capacity to suck some 25 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere every year while pumping around 130 pounds of oxygen back in each day, according to the studio. Still, as New Atlas notes, the amount of extra concrete needed to support these plants may undermine the studio’s aim for sustainability.

Boeri acknowledges his effort is just one of many that are needed. I believe the Vertical Forest prototype is a kind of approach, but not the only one, ” he said. “It allows the possibilities to be evolved into multiple shapes or even to include variations; we hope that this project will positively influence the architectural trend. Nevertheless the relevance of our prototype relies not only on its stylistic value but also on its potential to improve urban environments. It is not a possibility but rather a responsibility.”

The two towers will occupy over 6,550 square yards of land, with one building reaching over 350 feet and the other over 650 feet. The shorter of the two will contain a Hyatt hotel with a swimming pool on the roof. The taller will include a museum, a sustainable architecture school, and a private club on top.

The Nanjing buildings are planned for completion next year.

Editors' Recommendations

Dyllan Furness
Dyllan Furness is a freelance writer from Florida. He covers strange science and emerging tech for Digital Trends, focusing…
Our 10 favorite Memorial Day deals (including a 50-inch TV for $198)
A collection of electronic gadgets out of their shipping boxes.

Memorial Day is upon us. As we reflect on those that have lost their lives in wars, and the ongoing conflicts around the world, we are also given a chance for a much needed break and a three-day weekend. Retailers, too, celebrate this time of year by giving us sales lasting the whole weekend. Of course, not all of these sales and deals are created equally, so we've poured through the listings and found ten that we believe are truly worth your time. They include everything from TVs to smart thermostats, so let your imagination go wild as you scroll through our 10 favorite Memorial Day deals:
Ring Video Doorbell — $70, was $100

Want to keep your home safer, communicate with outdoor strangers without opening your door, and catch high quality video footage of the outside of your home even when its dark? For only $70 you do, especially with a Ring Video Doorbell, one of our favorite smart doorbells. You can communicate with it directly via Alexa, too, as part of your smart home. This can mean speaking directly with the people outside or using a preset response built into your Ring Alarm. Or, if you don't want to be bothered — or are outside your home —  you can have your alarm take a message. The setup is relatively easy, as the machine is wireless. While this does mean that the device uses a battery, you'll find that Ring Video Doorbells have longer lasting batteries than you might've guessed.

Read more
Alexa vs. HomeKit: which smart home platform is best?
Apple HomePod 2023

When it comes to building a smart home, few steps are as important as choosing your smart home platform. Pick the wrong one, and you could be left using dozens of separate smartphone apps to control all your gadgets.

Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa are two of the best options available today -- but which one is better for you? Here’s a comparison of the two platforms to help you decide.
What is a smart home platform?

Read more
The best smart thermostats for 2023
A person operating the Google Nest thermostat.

Adding a smart thermostat to your smart home is an easy way to save money. Not only do many of them offer suggestions on how to lower your electricity usage, but they can adapt to your schedule and automatically change the temperature based on your preferences. They’re a powerful class of smart home products – and in 2023, there are dozens of options to choose from.

However, not all smart thermostats are worthy of a spot on your wall. If you need some help narrowing down all the options, here’s a look at the best smart thermostats. There’s an option for all budgets, along with picks that play nicely with HomeKit, Google Home, and Alexa, so there’s a good chance one of the items below will be a perfect fit for your home.

Read more