Plans to combat the pollution and toxicity of a city in China have been revealed by urban designer Stefano Boeri.
The Italian architect, famous for his tree-clad “Bosco Verticale” (Vertical Forest) skyscraper complex located in Milan, has unveiled plans for a similar project in eastern China city of Nanjing.
It will be composed of two neighbouring towers coated with 23 species of trees and more than 2,500 cascading shrubs. The structures will house offices, a luxury hotel, a museum, and a green architecture school.
Boeri described his concept as designed to bring new life to a small corner of China’s polluted urban sprawl. His buildings would suck 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide from Nanjing’s air each year and produce about 60 kg of oxygen daily.
“It is positive because plants, trees, and shrubs contribute to the cleaning air, absorb CO2 and produce oxygen,’ the architect said. “Plants are an amazing contribution in terms of absorbing the dust produced by urban traffic.
“What is the idea of having a building that changes colour with each season. The plants and trees are growing and they are completely changing. This idea of vertical forests can be replicated everywhere. I have no problem if there are people who are copying or replicating. I hope that what we have done can be useful for others.”
The project is the forerunner to an even more ambitious scheme.
“We have been asked to design an entire city where you don’t only have one tall building but you have 100 or 200 buildings of different sizes, all with trees and plants on the facades,” says Boeri. “By 2020 we could imagine having the first forest city in China.”
Boeri, 60, first came to China in 1979. Five years ago he opened an office in Shanghai, where he leads a research programme at the city’s Tongji University.
He said officials in China understand they need to embrace a new, more sustainable model of urban planning involving settlements of 100,000 people or fewer that are entirely constructed of “green architecture”.
“What they have done until now is simply to continue to add new peripheral environments to their cities,” he said. “They have created these nightmares, immense metropolitan environments. They have to imagine a new model of the city – not about extending and expanding – but a system of small, green cities.”