NANJING — In late February, Italian architect Stefano Boeri unveiled plans for the construction of a “vertical forest” in Nanjing, China. The design for the vertical forests in China have the potential to contribute to the creation of a microclimate, absorb carbon dioxide and dust particles and produce humidity and oxygen. Overall, the design will help in China’s fight against air pollution.
Boeri’s website describes the project as one “for metropolitan reforestation contributing to the regeneration of the environment and urban biodiversity without the implication of expanding the city upon the territory.” The design aims to combat pollution and the lack of oxygen within urban borders.
The project is being called the “Nanjing Green Towers” and will stand over the city with more than 1,100 trees and 2,500 other plants. The buildings will reportedly host apartments, office space, a hotel, a museum and even a school for green architecture.
Nanjing is an area of China with a strong future for modernization and the development of the Yangtze River economic area. The potential for an increase in industrialization incentivized the decision to move forward with the project.
Historically, China has struggled to find a balance between its population of millions of people who look to industrialization to lift them from poverty and the effect of industry on air quality and the environment. The World Health Organization states that more than 80 percent of people living in urban areas are at risk of being exposed to high quantities of air pollution. Air pollution leads to the premature deaths of more than three million people every year and takes an especially heavy toll on those living in poverty.
Overall, the vertical forests in China would allow for 25 tons of carbon dioxide absorption each year and may produce about 60 kilograms of oxygen per year. Boeri recognizes that the impact of one building may be small, but he hopes that the plan will inspire a future for green architecture in China.
Boeri, who studied architecture in Milan, has been working on this project for many years. A vertical forest exists in Milan consisting of two residential towers. The forests are home to 900 trees and more than 20,000 plants that are distributed according to potential sun exposure. Boeri has also led a similar project in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The buildings are just the foundation for a larger ecological project. Boeri hopes to create a blueprint for “forest cities” and to use these cities to provide sustainable options for the future of urban China.
The project in China is set to be finished in 2018. Boeri claims his project will make a difference because “the presence of such a large number of plants, trees and shrubs is contributing to the cleaning of the air, contributing to absorbing CO2 and producing oxygen. And what is so important is that this large presence of plants is an amazing contribution in terms of absorbing the dust produced by urban traffic.”
Vertical forests in China have the potential to inspire a future of green architecture and development in the country.
– Peyton Jacobsen