The economic growth of the city is showcased through the city’s skyscrapers. But unfortunately, they are also symbols of environmental decline. The latest research focuses on sustainable skyscrapers adhering to the triple-bottom-line approach. The concept of vertical forests and bioclimatic skyscrapers is ever-evolving as the world moves towards sustainable or green urbanism. Stefano Boeri is one of the revolutionaries in this field and his seminal work “Bosco Verticale” (Vertical Forest) acts as a living prototype to inspire and instill hope in humanity. All the damage to the world is caused by the anthropocentric nature of human beings and “Bosco Verticale” affirms that humans can coexist with other living species harmoniously.
“Bosco Verticale” located at the city center of Milan in Italy, adheres to the underlying concept of non-anthropocentrism focussed on the relationship between humans and other living species through creating an ecosystem with trees as the primary contributor, creating a vertical forest. The built structure consists of two towers 80 and 112m in height, where each of the built form corresponds to 50,000 square metres of single-family units. The vegetation on the built form corresponds to 30,000 square meters of urban surface and includes 800 trees big and small, perennials and shrubs.
A Landmark Symbol for Milan
The fundamental aim of the structure is to reduce energy consumption as far as possible. The staggered, overhanging three-meter-wide balconies accommodate the trees and filter the sunlight through the leaves. The microclimate created reduces the temperature differences between the inside and the outside and helps to maintain the indoors at comfortable temperatures. These trees also clean the city air by absorbing the nitrogen dioxide and fine dust created due to pollution.
The trees absorb the carbon dioxide produced by vehicles and humans and produce oxygen. The trees also help to combat noise pollution. These evergreens also bring in more biodiversity and attract a wide species of fauna reinforcing the urban ecosystem. The porcelain stoneware finish of the facade evokes the feeling of the bark and the accentuating white stoneware finishes highlight the trees giving the structure a feeling of depth. The trees with their varying height and foliage change their color every season. The structure has thus become a landmark symbol for the city of Milan.
Living amidst greenery, the residents feel much more connected to nature resulting in less stress, increased creativity, and enhanced well-being. The residents can engage in outdoor activities such as gardening or taking a leisure stroll on the premises fostering a positive relationship and a healthier lifestyle for its inhabitants. The success of this Vertical forest has led to a revolution in architecture. It has inspired cities to incorporate its principles into their architecture. It offers a blueprint for sustainable and more environmentally responsible urban living. Since the Vertical Forest is a prototype, it can be adapted to suit various scales ranging from individual buildings to large-scale neighborhoods fostering urban regeneration and transforming them into vibrant eco-friendly communities.
As the saying “Rome was not built in a day”; it takes a team effort to conceive an idea and execute it through judicious and strategic planning. The architect and his team with a group of botanists and ethologists congregated in the year 2010 and spent three years in skilfully developing and executing the botanical component of the building structure with a great deal of attention to detail. The trees planted in the towers were developed in a special botanical nursery to acclimatize them to their eventual future habitat. Since the plants grow naturally and organically over some time; a diligent system was developed so that they can be partly natural and partly managed by humans.
A group of arborists or climbers use mountaineering techniques to descend from the top of the towers to prune and check the status of the plants for removal or substitution. They were fondly called the “Flying Gardeners” and the maintenance was done once a year from the condominium to control the anthropic vegetal balance. The centralized irrigation is monitored through the use of technology through digital and remote-controlled installation. The water is drawn from the filtered effluent from the towers. A new biological diversity is evolved and after a few years of its construction, the vertical forest habitat is colonized by spontaneous recolonization of flora and fauna with over 1600 specimens of birds and butterflies.
The triple-bottom-line approach enhances the social, environmental, and economic aspects through the three facets of people, planet, and profit. The vertical forest is an exemplary example of the concept of balancing three facets leading to the holistic well-being of its inhabitants. As the world is facing challenges related to climate change and urbanization, Bosco Verticale serves as an inspiration for a more sustainable and resilient future. Each of the projects that were inspired by the “Bosco Verticale” has an innovation to its credit. The vision of the architect encourages us to think beyond the ordinary and his legacy will undoubtedly shape the cities of tomorrow.
- Vertical Forest Milan [online]. Available at: https://www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net/en/project/vertical-forest/#wp-video-lightbox/-1/ [Accessed date: 2 August 2023].
- Trees in the sky – a vertical forest in Milan: Stefano BOERI at TEDxTirana, TEDx Talks. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH4Q6ddchPc
[Accessed: 2 August 2023].