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In Milan, Italian apartment dwellers will soon have the chance to live in the middle of a forest, 20 floors up.
After years of planning, Italian architect Stefano Boeri of Stefano Boeri Architetti has taken the idea of the vertical garden one ambitious step further with his Bosco Verticale, the world’s first “vertical forest”.
Now under construction in Milan’s Isola neighborhood, the urban reforestation project includes two residential towers (one is 27 stories tall, the other 20), both of which incorporate a network of plants, shrubs, and trees on cantilevered balconies. Each building will be planted with 900 trees that range in height from 10 to 30 feet, emulating the mix of species at different maturity levels to be found in a true forest.
According to Boeri, “Bosco Verticale is a project for metropolitan reforestation that contributes to the regeneration of the environment and urban biodiversity without the implication of expanding the city.” Indeed, if the units in his vertical forest apartment buildings were laid out on level terrain, they’d cover roughly 12 acres of land, with the trees occupying yet another 2.5 acres of open space.
In terms of green building, Bosco Verticale is much more than a lavish beautification stunt. The trees, which include deciduous oaks and amelanchier among others, provide dramatic energy savings year-round (shade in summer; sunshine in winter), plus they improve air quality by releasing humidity and converting CO2 into oxygen.
Tree foliage also provides a windscreen, captures dust particles circulating in the air, and helps filter noise pollution from the street—significant quality-of-life benefits for residents of one of Europe’s busiest and most polluted cities.
In addition to rainwater, Bosco Verticale’s stunning array of greenery will be irrigated by the building’s gray water recycling system.
If all goes as planned, Bosco Vertical will be the first step in Boeri’s grand sustainability plan, BioMilano, in which he envisions a sheltering green belt of trees around the city and some 60 abandoned farms restored for community use.
When completed, Bosco Verticale will be a “model of vertical densification of nature” within Milan, according to architect Stefano Boeri.
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