Condo sprouts trees!

Sourced from Landscape Trades

An architect firm and condo developer are planning Canada’s first vertical forest for Toronto, and they’ve brought together an impressive team of horticulturists, arborists, irrigation specialists and academics to make the ambitious project come to life.

Cityzen Development Group and Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects, both based in Toronto, Ont., are working through the municipal approval process for Designers Walk, situated between the city’s posh Yorkville and Annex neighbourhoods.

If the project is approved as planned, the “L” shaped, 27-story building will be home to some 500 trees (half deciduous, half coniferous) on extensive terraces and an open parkette.

Artist renderings of the condo highlight just how unique this building would be in Toronto, a city which is increasingly dominated by cookie-cutter glass boxes. The images capture the imagination; as cities grow and population density increases, who wouldn’t prefer a green building over the monotony of glass and steel?

But is it really possible?

Robert Wright, dean of forestry at the University of Toronto, and a landscape architect by training, has been in discussions with Brian Brisbin of BBB.

“People who understand ecological and horticultural environments know that these are living systems, and while you can do a whole lot with them, they are also quite unforgiving,” Wright said. “If you do it wrong, they will die.”

To build and maintain suitable environments for plants and trees of this scale, on a condo of this size, with exposure in all four directions, will require incredible horticultural expertise, Wright says. However, he is optimistic that with the right group of academics, industry experts and researchers, Designers Walk could serve as a model for future developments.

“My three drivers have always been biomass, biodiversity and canopy cover,” Wright says. “We need more trees, we need more vegetation and we need more green spaces in our cities, and I’m willing to consider just about anything to get that done.”

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