The Architect Transforming Cities Into 'Vertical Forests'

Sourced from CNN

Architect Stefano Boeri has always been obsessed with trees. The Italian traces his fascination back to a novel he read as a child, "Il Barone Rampante" ("The Baron in the Trees"), in which a young boy climbs up into a world of trees and vows to never to return.

"I think trees are individuals," Boeri said in a phone interview. "Each has its own evolution, its own biography, its own shape."

Unsurprisingly, there is child-like wonder to the architect's best-known building, Il Bosco Verticale, or the Vertical Forest. Built in his home city of Milan, the celebrated complex teems with greenery, its facades transformed into living, breathing organisms.

The project's two residential towers -- measuring 80 meters (262 feet) and 112 meters (367 feet) respectively -- play host to around 20,000 trees, shrubs and plants. They spill out from irregularly placed balconies and crawl up the structures' sides. By Boeri's estimates, there are two trees, eight shrubs, and 40 plants for each human inhabitant.

The purported benefits of this garden architecture transcend aesthetics. Greenery, supposedly, provides shade to apartments, psychological benefits to residents and a home to wildlife. (There are, Boeri said, "hundreds of birds, more than 15 different species" nesting on the towers' various floors.)

But the architect's proudest claim that the buildings absorb 30 tons of CO2 and produce 19 tons of oxygen a year, according to his research, with a volume of trees equivalent to more than 215,000 square feet of forestland.

"The ability to enlarge green surfaces inside and around our city is one of the most efficient ways to try to reverse climate change," he said. "So, a vertical forest is one of the possible ways to ... enlarge biological surfaces, in the horizontal and the vertical. (The solution is) not only gardens. Why not also the side of the building?"

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