These High-Rise Forests Are Causing Waves in Italy Right Now

They really stand out from the rest of the Milanese cityscape.

Standing tall and proud in the middle of the Milan skyline, the two buildings known as ‘The Vertical Forest’ truly are very special indeed. First opened back in 2014, they have since won the extremely prestigious Frankfurt International Highrise Award, as well as the Chicago Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat ‘Best Tall Building Worldwide’.

The Vertical Forest is stunning and is collecting architectural awards all the time. But what is it about it that’s so remarkable? Well, it’s facia is entirely covered in lush greenery. In fact, there are more than 20,000 plants adorning the outside walls of the two towers.

So popular is the idea that the genius behind the idea, architect Stefano Boeri, is exporting the concept to buildings all across the world. From the Netherlands to China.

Boeri claims that the initial idea came from his love of trees and his obsessive determination to make them into what he calls “an essential component of architecture.”

“I was in Dubai in 2007 and I watched this city growing in the middle of the desert, with more than 200 glass towers multiplying the effect of heat,” he remembers. “I wanted instead to create something that as well as welcoming life, can contribute to reducing pollution, because trees absorb microparticles and CO2”.

Stefano Boeri is the Milanese architect behind the idea.

“For every human being living in the building, there are about two trees, 10 shrubs and 40 plants,” Boeri says. “Cities now produce about 75 percent of the CO2 present in the atmosphere. Bringing more trees into the city means fighting the enemy on the spot.”

“The extraordinary thing that we did not expect was the incredible amount of birds that nested here. We have small hawks on the roofs and swifts that had previously disappeared from Milan.”

“China is now realising it faces the dramatic problem of air pollution, but also of uncontrolled urbanisation, with cities growing out of suburbs, creating megacities. Every year fifteen million peasants abandon the countryside to come to the city, we have to come up with some answers, with new green cities,” Boeri goes on.

The trees on the buildings are a mixture. There are cherry trees, olive trees and even apples trees all over the balconies and walls.

“It’s a unique thing to live here, we’re in direct contact with the plants while being in the city centre and in a super modern skyscraper. The plants have developed a lot over the past three years, and we see them changing with the seasons,” says Simona Pizzi, who lives in a beautiful 14th floor apartment from which she can see the mountains.

It’s certainly a fantastic idea. For not only does The Vertical Forest look amazing, it’s really helping to inspire thought about the nature of climate change.


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Amir Dawood

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