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Green Cities for the Future

For a busy, burgeoning country like China; bursting at the seams with people, buildings and vehicles, it comes as no surprise that they struggle with pollution. For the mountainous regional city of Liuzhou, the pollution levels have not yet reached dire straits, but if they do not address this issue pronto, the city’s atmospheric health will of course get worse over time. Liuzhou’s Municipality Urban Planning department has commissioned a design firm to create a 175-hectare Forest City which will run along the Liujiang River in the northern part of Liuzhou. Towers that will be covered in thousands of trees and a million plants; more than 100 different species. The idea has become known as “Vertical ForestING”; a trend that is perhaps set to take over architecture the world over.  The concept is based on giving back to nature, as well as perhaps slowing down climate change and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

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The Forest City vision from Stefano Boeri Architetti

On June 26th it was announced that Italian design firm Stefano Boeri Architetti will create what they call a ‘forest city’ thaty will be able to help address the smog levels. The idea is that the neighbourhood will comprise of plant covered towers to help reduce pollution levels. But we are not talking about a few measly trees. The skyscrapers will hold a whopping 1100 trees and thousands of cascading shrubs on the rooftops and balconies. That means that the plants that will be used in each tower would cover approx 7000 metres squared on flat land! How incredible is that!!??  On top of that, the majority of the buildings energy requirements will be fueled from renewable sources such as solar power. The direct result of the plants within the tower structures will absorb 10000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, as well as 57 tonnes of pollutants each year. This is as effective as taking 2100 cars off the roads.

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Stefano Boeri Artiectetti

The two tower complex, called Nanjing Green Towers is modeled on a similar concept that Boeri designed and completed in Milan in 2014. They also have a similar concept being executed in Switzerland in the coming year. Luizhou’s “forest city” set in China’s mountainous region is set to be a reality by 2020. Whilst the impact that two towers will have on the pollution levels of the city will be minimal, they serve a blueprint for creating whole ‘forest cities’. If the Chinese government is able to change the mindset of growth and progress to include creating green cities, not simply perpetuating the problem of expanding, exceeding limits and putting such immense pressure on the surrounding natural environment, then buildings such as these may help combat the pollution problem in the future.

Boeri writes;  “The diffusion of plants, not only in the parks and gardens or along the streets, but also over building facades, will allow the energy self-sufficient city to contribute to improve the air quality (absorbing both CO2 and fine dust of 57 tons per year), to decrease the average air temperature, to create noise barriers and to improve the biodiversity of living species, generating the habitat for birds, insects and small animals that inhabit the Liuzhou territory.”

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Milan Towers completed in 2014. Image Stefano Boeri Architetti
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Nanjing Towers via Stefano Boeri Architectetti

What do you think- do these forest cities have a place in the world in the future? Or do you feel it is a misguided waste of time and energy?

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