World’s First Vertical Forest Under Construction in Milan


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By Catherine de Lange at Green Futures

In Milan, a forest will soon be planted in the sky. Building works for a pair of skyscrapers that will become home to the world’s first vertical forest is underway. The brainchild of architect Stefano Boeri, the €65 million ‘Bosco Verticale’ is already under construction. When complete, the skyscrapers will contain luxury apartments, each one equipped with a copious balcony specially designed to hold around 900 small trees and other plants. If planted on the ground the total vegetation would cover an area of 10,000 square metres.

As well as providing green outdoors space for residents, and providing the city with some much needed green views, the project should have a range of other benefits, including:

  • filtering pollution
  • absorbing CO2 and dust particles
  • reducing noise pollution to the building
  • improving the microclimate
  • saving energy by sheltering the building from solar radiation in summer
  • reducing rainwater run-off so curbing flooding.

And all this, claims Boeri, for a premium of just 5% on the cost of normal high rises.

On the surface, it is a simple idea – with growing populations requiring land use for lodgings, why not plant our greenery upwards, rather than outwards? It is certainly becoming increasingly popular, with schemes in Chicago and Suwon, South Korea [see ‘Fish and veg take to the skies‘].

Alexander Felson, Director of the Urban Ecology and Design Laboratory at Yale University, agrees that “there will potentially be microclimate and air particulate removal benefits”, but warns that the “overall energy required to construct a building that would support both trees and the wet weight of soil” places some serious question marks over its overall sustainability. He favours a more modest approach focusing on green roofs.

This article originally appeared in Green Futures, the magazine of independent sustainability experts Forum for the FutureImages courtesy of Daniel Iodice

  • Jali

    not a practical for big trees..need to introduce glass wall to reduce wind speed..*
    Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s TREES!!

  • embraceComplexity

    I wonder how maintaining an attractive forest will affect the HOA fees? 

  • Falcon

    This is just a start , further improvements can me done latter to make more practical and useful.

  • Falcon

    Some thing is better than nothing 

  • Best Hepa Air Purifier

     Very remarkable work. Great things will coming soon.

  • ashley

    That should read …the brainchild of Hundertwasser

  • Eric SanAgustin

    I wouldn’t want to live in a giant, living fire hazard. 

  • David

    I agree with Felson – the question is not whether there are benefits, but whether the benefits are greater than the costs.  And the proof is in the pudding, at year 10+, not the rendering…the trees may block sun, but will also block views; they’ll be imbalanced because of the asymmetrical sunlight so will lean outwards, potentially snapping off and dropping limbs in high wind; and once of any size at all will be bare on the apartment side due to shading, so residents might soon be looking at the equivalent of the ‘bad’ side of a discount christmas tree…oh, and a forest fire would really be something…!

    Instead of trying to turn cities into (or filling them with fragmented) simulacra of nature, why not admit that dense cities, full of human nature, are one of the best things we can do for the environment?  Preserve real forests, instead of removing mountaintops to mine coal to refine steel and bake limestone into cement, carve out aggregates to mix with the concrete…

  • Vancur

    This is a fantastic idea

    • Jon Adie

      following with interest 

  • Andersonxox

    I like

  • Gins

    How big are the trees going to get? 

  • Egraves9805


  • Danster

    Yea this has its disadvantages. But least there are people thinking out of the box trying to make progress and do something different. You don’t know till you try.

  • Richard

    This is a practical and compelling idea. I once lived in a penthouse with large planters containing trees. About 6 ft tall for trees. They filled the planters with roots. Very healthy trees but they ceased to grow. Very nice roof garden. Cool place to sit on a pretty day.