Towering forests in the sky are now very much a reality. The term urban jungle can soon be taken literally if buildings in cities around the world adopt a totally “green” approach to conceptualization and construction.
The addition of plants into one’s house may be a big trend now, but to totally cover an apartment with trees is a whole different level of ambitious. Yet, some buildings have successfully achieved it.
Here’s a roundup of the world’s most beautiful vertical forests – the proof that we can live as one with nature.
Located in Milan, Bosco Verticale (literally “vertical forest” in Italian) is a sight to behold. It comprises two residential towers with a total of 900 trees, 5,000 shrubs and 11,000 floral plants growing on terraces throughout.
They are seen spilling out from irregularly placed balconies and crawl up the structures’ sides. The estimate is that there are two trees, eight shrubs and 40 plants for each human inhabitant.
Bosco Verticale is the result of architect Stefano Boeri’s creative vision and took about two years to fine tune. After observations to determine the most resilient species, the plants were then tested in a wind tunnel to ensure resilience.
“I think trees are individuals,” Boeri was once quoted as saying in an interview. The man believes that plants are unique too, or as he has put it, “each has its own evolution, its own biography, its own shape”.
What’s more impressive is that Bosco Verticale proves to be self-sufficient. The building uses renewable energy from solar panels and filtered waste water is used to irrigate its growing greenery.
Those that call it home are not just the humans though. There are apparently more than a hundred birds – said to be of 15 different species – nesting in the trees on the towers’ various floors.
One Central Park, designed by architect Jean Nouvel and botanist Patrick Blanc, is a vibrant landmark in what was once a derelict brewery site in downtown Sydney, Australia. It has a public park, of which climbs the side of floor-to-ceiling glass towers to form a lush canopy.
Using 250 species of Australian flowers and plants, the buds and blooms of the vegetation form a musical composition on the facade. Vines and leafy foliage spring out between floors and provide a perfect frame to the skyline.
Specially built hydroponic walls, as well as low profile horizontal planters and support cables, are integrated into the tower’s facades. These support a variety of climbing and spreading plants that give the buildings their beauty.
Singapore as a small island nation can be said to be as urban as it gets. A unique green construct, Tree House, however defies this idea by existing as a little vertical spot where greenery thrives in the city.
It was recognised by the Guinness World Records in 2014 for having the largest vertical garden in the world. The four 24-storey towers also provide breath-taking views of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Upper Peirce Reservoir.
Built by property firm City Developments Limited, Tree House features of-the-art sustainable elements such as heat-reducing windows and motion sensors that automatically activate lights.
4. Liuzhou Forest City
The Liuzhou Forest City has not been constructed yet, but once completed, it is slated to be the most ambitious vertical forest ever to be built on earth. The building will rise in the mountainous province of Guangxi, northern China.
As it is, this is the brainchild of Stefano Boeri. After the success of Bosco Verticale, the man is not stopping and has continued on his quest to create a new generation of urban settlements that are capable of facing climate change.
The 342-acre, self-contained Liuzhou Forest will comprise more than 70 buildings – including homes, hospitals, hotels, schools and offices – all of which will be covered with 40,000 trees and almost a million plants.
5. Designers Walk
Another building that is also in the midst of being brought to life is Canada’s Designers Walk. Envisioned by architect Brian Brisbin, the building in Toronto will slope up toward its peak, creating giant terraces home to about 500 trees.
“Our approach is literally nature and its relationship to an urban environment, and how it’s going to survive the heat-island effect and carbon footprint,” stated Brisbin, who is against glass and steel condo towers or office buildings.
The Designers Walk’s trees will be rooted two years ahead of time in stainless steel planters. When laid end to end, these planters stretch 2 kilometres. Not only that, even the garage door will be hidden behind a waterfall!
Cover Image: GattoTere / Unsplash
Writer | PY Cheong
PY Cheong has plied the trade of words long enough to recognise the difference between writing and storytelling. Believes in always dressing up his prose. Living and breathing the work he does.