The prototype building in Milan has earned Stefano Boeri not only architectural awards, but also notable follow-on commissions. His concept of a “living ecosystem for habitation” using hundreds of trees and thousands of plants is implemented in a 54-meter-high residential tower in Villierssur-Marne, a suburb of Paris, and in Utrecht in Holland. Concentrated in a confined urban space, the planting there is designed to be equivalent to roughly one hectare of conventional forest. Boeri’s most recent project in southern China even goes one step further. At a site 300 kilometers northeast of Hong Kong, the architect is designing the master plan for an entire city based on the prototype of his Bosco Verticale. With construction scheduled to commence in 2020, Liuzhou Forest City is to be developed for 30,000 inhabitants on a 175-hectare site. Not just the individual residential buildings, but also the schools, administration offices, hotels and hospitals will be planted using 40,000 trees, at least one million plants in total and more than 100 different species. With this diversity of vegetation, the planner also hopes to create an urban ecosystem for a wide variety of bird and insect species. The forest city aims to prevent the smog that frequently plagues Beijing and other Chinese mega-cities from occurring in the first place. That’s because the plants in this green city oasis can absorb up to 57 tons of particulates and 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
“The city of the future can only be a green city,” acknowledges Alexandra Quint, urban theorist and expert on sustainable urban development at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. She even advocates the use of crop varieties for cooling building facades, fruit and vegetables on balconies and freely accessible bodies of water. With their new building projects ranging from residential towers all the way to the planned city, Stefano Boeri and Patrick Blanc are already getting quite close to these ideals. Yet fully developed cities, too, must not overlook the need to add greenery for a better quality of life.