China’s developers embrace Stefano Boeri’s Vertical Forest

Italian architect Stefano Boeri’s Vertical Forest concept is achieving a breakthrough in China. Construction of China’s first project in Nanjing is well underway; developers in several cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have shown interest. “While actually absorbing CO2 and producing lots of oxygen, a Vertical Forest is a statement in China’s air-polluted cities”, Stefano Boeri said to Club China.

Three years ago, architect Stefano Boeri stunned Italy with his Bosco Verticale, the two residential buildings with trees and plants built right in the centre of Milan. The forest-built-straight-into-the-sky concept, with 900 trees and over 20.000 plants, became world-famous. Cities like Lausanne, Paris and Chicago will have one soon. And then the Chinese came, saying they want them too, in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province.

Nanjing Green Towers
And so it happened. With Stefano Boeri Architetti’s local Shanghai branch in the lead, Nanjing Yang Zi, state-owned National Investment Group is currently building Nanjing Green Towers, the first Vertical Forest built in Asia. Along the facades of its two buildings, 600 tall trees, 500 medium-sized trees (for a total amount of 1100 trees from 23 local species) and 2500 cascading plants and shrubs will cover a 6.000 sqm area. According to the Boeri design, Nanjing Green Towers is a real vertical forest that will help to regenerate local biodiversity. After completion in 2018, the towers will provide 25 tons of CO2 absorption each year, producing about 60 kg of oxygen per day.

The taller of the two towers will hold offices, a museum, a green architecture school, and a rooftop club. The other tower is to host a 247-room Hyatt hotel and rooftop swimming pool. A podium 65 feet high will include shops, restaurants, and a conference hall. Balconies on the buildings will allow inhabitants to get up close to the nature thriving on the building facades.

China’s urban environments
Boeri believes that Vertical Forests like the one in Nanjing have a great future in China’s urban environments. “It is a model for a sustainable residential building. It is also a method for metropolitan reforestation that contributes to the regeneration of the environment and urban biodiversity. In large urban and metropolitan areas, of which there are many in China, a Vertical Forest is a model of vertical densification of nature.”

To Boeri, Nanjing is a new chapter. “Based on the same principle, Nanjing Green Towers utilizes mostly local trees and plants that have been carefully selected by our experts, in cooperation with local botanists. The towers are located in an area that will likely lead modernization efforts in this province and help develop a Yangtze River economic zone.”

Second forest in Liuzhou
Boeri and his Milan and Shanghai teams are currently designing China’s second Forest City in Liuzhou (South China, near Nanning), applying vertical forest principles on a different scale. This project focuses on fitting a new residential area in a scenic environment. “The whole idea is to create a beautiful living, perfectly matching with the surroundings, intelligent and low-carbon. It provides quiet surroundings and high-quality living conditions.”

Boeri explains that a Vertical Forest can play different roles in rural areas. “These roles range from making a clear green statement in a polluted concrete world, to actually modernizing, upgrading and revitalizing city areas.”

Forests on existing buildings
The architect insists that the concept is not limited to newly developed projects. “It can also be applied to existing structures, to offer them a second life in an urban environment. We are actually designing a similar project in Shanghai, in which a developer wants to intervene in an existing building, adding new facades to it. It is true that the actual oxygen production of a Vertical Forest may only be a drop in the ocean. But it is the message that counts – it is a green oasis of hope in a urbanizing environment. The concept of forestation – be it in the middle of large cities – is important to the future of China.”

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