Step into A Tree-Inspired Building: Vertical Forests in Architecture Design

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Stefano Boeri pioneered in creating vertical forests in urban areas with the aim of combining sustainable housing and reduction of air & noise pollution. Trees and plants have many benefits to this planet and their usefulness has not gone unnoticed among architects that incorporate living things in the design of buildings.  Trees define the character of an edifice softening its look and giving it color. They support a variety of flora and fauna.

Vegetation not only brightens the space or provides privacy but also reduces air & noise pollution, improves air quality and provides a cooling effect in summer. These benefits strengthen the vision of architects to incorporate trees and plants when designing structures.

The Milan Skyscraper Leads the Way

Bosco Verticale is the award-winning pair of residential towers located in the Porta Nuova district of Milan. Officially opened in 2014, the two residential tower blocks are covered in 800 trees as well as 15,000 plants and 4,500 shrubs. Designed by Boeri, Barreca and La Varra with the help of horticulturalists and botanists, the buildings are part of the rehab project in the historic district of the city.

Each tower is home to several trees measuring from 3 to 6 meters in height. The trees produce oxygen and help reduce smog in the city. Moreover, these trees also assist in moderating temperatures during winter and summer.

Replication of Vertical Forests to Other Urban Centers

Such was the success of the forests that the concept is being replicated to other cities. Eindhoven, in the Netherlands is getting a Trudo Vertical Forest. The plant-filled skyscraper will offer 125 apartment housing units that are priced below market rates. In total, 125 trees and 5,200 plants/shrubs will grow in the building’s balconies. Other notable projects include the 280-meter high skyscraper in Singapore by Bjarke Ingels Group and Carlo Ratti Associati which will include a park and tree cocoons and the Nanjing Green Towers in China by Boeri that will be covered in 1,100 trees and 2,500 shrubs.

Issues with Using Trees in Buildings

Not everything is clear cut in designing and creating vertical forests high-rise buildings. It involves a careful selection of trees and plants that will withstand cramped and limited spaces. A removal service after an emergency must also be in place should trees get uprooted or knocked down by extra powerful winds. Falling and broken tree limbs need to be removed for safety and a proper tree care program.

The presence of vertical forests in high-rise structures provides many benefits. They reduce air & noise pollution, improve air quality and contribute to the well-being of its residents. These buildings also reduce carbon footprints by regulating temperatures in winter and summer.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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