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Stefano Boeri: Vertical forests are the future of our cities

By Kim Megson    16 Mar 2016
Boeri believes that tree-covered buildings enhance both the human and natural environment / Stefano Boeri Architetti

Italian architect Stefano Boeri has told CLAD how the ‘vertical forest’ model of architecture promotes wellness and creates sustainable urbanisation in our towns and cities.

Boeri is a specialist in the field of green design, having created tree-topped towers in Switzerland and Italy, and in an exclusive interview he explained how his “continuous experiment of cohabitation” – in which he covers structures in flora and fauna – can change the face of cities.

“Multidisciplinary research has enabled us to develop the building technologies to bring trees very high up in the sky in and around our structures and irrigate them with recycled water,” he said. “This advancement, alongside ongoing analysis of the vegetation that can thrive in these special environments, is allowing us to conceive unique buildings specific to their locations.

“The result is new spheres, where people, trees and animals can coexist in an environment of wellness.”

Boeri said that the architecture industry too often engages in a “merely shallow” discourse about energy efficiency, and said truly environmental architecture, such as vertical forests, is necessary “to induce sustainability and a relationship of symbiosis between man, architecture and nature.”

He said: “One important method to improve our ecosystem is the ‘de-mineralisation’ of the cities, that is, the multiplication of green surfaces to find a balance between urban construction and the natural environment. A green surface can reduce the air temperature, sink CO2 levels and reduce noise.

“This not only adds quality to human life, but also helps to diminish the impact of man-made constructions on the natural environment and enriches the variety of living organisms. If we adopt this approach, we can benefit both the natural and human environments.”

Boeri said that these innovations are being used in his next forest-inspired project: a resort property and “lifestyle destination” in China’s Guizhou province with trees on every terrace.

“We envision our façade as a living element that will become part of a wider system, a shelter for the local fauna and an oxygen machine able to reduce the carbon dioxide in the air,” he said. “To guarantee this synergy, a careful study will accompany the design to guarantee that all the species introduced by the building are reinforcing and enriching the existing environment and will survive the wind, height and solar exposure.”

The design complements the landscape by reconstructing a hill that was previously flattened. It will be built using traditional Guizhou materials and colours.

The building – the centrepiece of Cachet Hotel Group’s Wanfeng Valley resort – will feature a 182-room Cachet Resort Hotel and a 71-room URBN hotel, two restaurants and lounges, a swimming pool, spa and fully equipped fitness centre.

Other examples of vertical forests include projects being developed by Thomas Heatherwick, Ingenhoven Architects and DGT Architects.

Boeri's design for a resort in China resembles a tree-covered hill that fits into the landscape / Stefano Boeri Architetti
Stefano Boeri  Vertical forests  architecture  design  ecosystems  environmental design  Wanfeng Valley  future 
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