Bosco Verticale

I’d like to see the cost-benefit analysis on this one before signing up, but an intriguing idea:

Vertical Forest is a model for a sustainable residential building, a project for metropolitan reforestation contributing to the regeneration of the environment and urban biodiversity without the implication of expanding the city upon the territory. It is a model of vertical densification of nature within the city that operates in relation to policies for reforestation and naturalization of large urban and metropolitan borders. The first example of the Vertical Forest consisting of two residential towers of 110 and 76 m height, was realized in the centre of Milan, on the edge of the Isola neighborhood, hosting 800 trees (each measuring 3, 6 or 9 meters), 4,500 shrubs and 15,000 plants from a wide range of shrubs and floral plants distributed according to the sun exposure of the facade. On flat land, each Vertical Forest equals, in amount of trees, an area of 20,000 square meters  of forest. In terms of urban densification it is the equivalent of an area of a single family dwelling of nearly 75,000 sq.m. The vegetal system of the Vertical Forest contributes to the construction of a microclimate, produces humidity, absorbs CO2 and dust particles and produces oxygen.

Here is the link, here are other links.


"produces humidity": not for me, then.

Plus you can't see out of it. Why buy a condo 40 stories up if you can't see the city?

To escape the plebes.

Looks like a tower for cucks.

I worry about those trees, there's not much room for their roots.

I'd worry about the building more than the trees. Real trees are very heavy, have invasive root systems, and are windsails.

I've got an oak in my backyard that was planted (25 years ago) too close to the house. It's not the spindly broomstick it once was, it's an 18 inch diameter trunk now; we hire commercial tree trimmers every other year to trim back the branches, and I suspect that the house will eventually have foundation problems from the roots. We get pretty dramatic limb movement in windstorms, which will damage the roof if the limbs aren't cut back.

Tree trimming and dead tree removal on a high rise building is going to be interesting (and I would guess expensive).

On the plus side, I get great shade in the backyard.

"I suspect that the house will eventually have foundation problems from the roots" Yep, and you'll need to remove the tree to fix the foundation, so might as well remove it now.

Presumably the architects took these considerations into account and selected appropriate tree species.

That’s exactly what I thought about the tree in my back yard.

Not that I know for sure, but I'm pretty confident they also consulted a botanist or something.

Didn't these guy pay attention to how fast plants penetrate concrete? Any crack and plants are inside it, expanding it and going deeper. And then come the bugs. Yeah that attracts birds but that's not 100% upside either. Who needs more bird guano? And that will be falling around the outside of the building like rain.

Fake forests! Is this a tree-hugger's fantasy? No, nightmare is more like it. Trees and all forms of vegetation don't mix well with buildings because the former have roots and they grow in places they ought not grow and pretty much cripple a building. Not to mention insects that will eat one out of house and home. Economists compete with architects for the best bad ideas; economists believing they can defy gravity (up is down) and architects believing they can defy nature (planting trees where they don't belong).

Not another root expert! How many does this comment section have?

Well, I don't mean to boast... Oh wait, that word has a different meaning in America.

Interesting. I have looked into this before a little bit. I sounds good, but remember the tower creates a big shadow. There are some plants that can grow in the shadow, what we would consider houseplants, which are in fact rainforest understory plants.

So, meh.

Instead, let's protect our natural ecosystems - forest, prairie, marsh, woodland, desert, etc - from further urbanization. To do that, we have to reduce the rate of growth of the human population. This goes against the will of the econonutty libertarians that believe growth is good and should continue until ... Yes, until when? Catastrophe? Until viral epidemics wipe out most of the population? International war? Civil war? Random violence?

Consider the law of requisite variety. An ecosystem requires species diversity to be stable. At what point does the population of humans and our domesticated animals and plants become so large that there is not sufficient species diversity to prevent system collapse?

" To do that, we have to reduce the rate of growth of the human population."

Go live in China. Not interested in tyranny.

"rowth is good and should continue until ... Yes, until when? Catastrophe? Until viral epidemics wipe out most of the population? International war? Civil war? Random violence?"

No evidence any of those things would happen. The human population is leveling off just fine anyways.

Like you, I oppose force or coercion in any form. We are in agreement there.

I don't know what will happen. Diversity within ecosystems is good - it enables flexible response to changes.

For the last two million years humanity tried to escape from the jungle and create nice, safe, airconditioned places to live in. The house with trees reminds me of The Planet of the Apes, where the apes climbed the floors using the vertical vegetation. Instead of clean and nice elevators. I like to open the window and let the light come in, so I am not moving into that monstrosity.

Yes, for a few centuries one of the greatest luxuries was stepping on cobble pavement or asphalt and never touch the mud. Any capital from 5 centuries ago declared a war on trees.

Mind you, lots of trees to hang yourself from, eh?

So that is it. Back to the trees to live like monkeys.

Peter Wohlleben talks about the brief lives of urban trees, challenged as they are by incomplete biodiversity (above and below ground) as does James C. Scott in the inability of the 'ordered forest' to really thrive. Yet we keep trying, and maybe we should. These kinds of projects always feel driven by aesthetics as well as environmental concerns, but maybe that is not the worst thing.

With my luck, I'd be walking on the sidewalk past that building just as the wind brings down a limb or two.

You could take that building, flatten it and spread it out among one story units, and have all the green space you need, with access to actual topsoil, and no need for elevators.

There is plenty of space for cheap, abundant single-family housing in the US. We don't need to be crammed in atomizing, urban diseconomies of scale.

I would move there in a minute and pay extra for the privilege. I would also gladly live in the Hundertwasserhaus, but even in otherwise affordable Vienna, there is no way I could afford rent there. Apparently it's the most expensive per-square-meter apartment building in the whole city, and it's not even that central.

Maybe the guy from creepshow would like to live there?

No one has yet made a reference to SimCity 2000's arcologies, so I shall.

This loos like an arco to me.

I was thinking the same thing.

I'm still waiting for the Darco arcology to be built, perhaps in China or India.

Interestingly, the arcology is attributed to Italian-American Paolo Soleri's "Arcosanti" experimental town concept. See, full circle with the Italians...

There is a (full-time?) arborist crew working on these, to make sure the trees stay healthy and don't grow too large. Each tree has its own reinforced box planter.

Falling branches must be a huge concern to insurance companies. Can arborists ever really guarantee that a given branch will never fall?

As you might expect, the place has its own Wikipedia article. The concrete balconies are reinforced with steel.

Interesting, but seems prone to a lot of problems that some have mentioned. Wouldn't creeping clinging vines be a better idea?

Or moss: these urban benches with "living walls" covered with moss are allegedly better than trees at absorbing pollution:

However someone commenting on facebook said that moss is hard to grow and is usually gathered from the wild. So if these living walls become popular we might see de-mossification.

"... a vertical environment which can also be colonized by birds and insects..."

Milan already has enough insects, mosquitoes primarily, that they don't need to encourage more.

Obviously looks gimmicky AF, but to the extent that trees can reduce the effects of pollution locally it might make sense. Vertical forrests might have an effect on urban pollutants such as carbon monoxide, but I don't know.

Some academic work (Politecnico Milano, Politiecnico Torino, Uni Ferrara; in Italian, e.g. Marco Milillo,, 2017) answer most of the questions asked in the comments (irrigation, roots, wind, etc). Costs are high. Are they sustainable? The cost-benefit question remains open. Costs may rather easily be quantified. But what about benefits? It is like health, well-being etc. Different standard in different places, even within the same country. Anyway Stefano Boeri's Milanese idea has meanwhile been replicated elsewhere, in Turin (small scale), in Utrecht Netherlands, im Lausanne Switzerland (with no reputation to spoil investments) and even in the much poluted Nanjing Chinese metropole.

There's a huge aspirational motivation behind the design and construction. Practicality is there, but economics where hung from the highest branch of the building.

I thought the image that Tyler shared was a render. No, the building exists as presented on the image. The funny part is that both buildings are on a lot with lots of concrete and a few trees. I don't know the prices but it must be much cheaper to plant and take care of a tree at street level than reinforcing the structure and crazy maintenance costs for a tree on the 15th floor.

See the building on google maps:,9.1913304,2a,60y,266.79h,104.95t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sZ78v3RYxmsFJZln1EfDnFA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656)

This building with a vertical garden in Barcelona is from 1979

I've come across some approximations couple years ago. To make it short, the architects put so much of concrete, and robars, and pipes, etc., into that building it would have been much more environmentally friendly to excave it at all and leave where it is. The whole building has nothing at all in common with green architecture.

Sorry... NOT to excave it obviously

Kids being kids, won’t they try to climb the trees and, sometimes, fall?

The only reason I bothered to click-and-view the comments here is because I knew they would be infested with skepticism. It is almost a rule with some here that no puff piece can go unpunished and that every second of fleeting joy must be sucked from space-time in an accretion disk of naysaying.

I think it's a lovely concept. I hope it works.

I think there is little need for this sort of thing yet but, I'm glad people looking at and working on it.

To call a high tech structure that will corrode to dust in 150 years while never for one day functioning properly "sustainable" is just one example of the ability of Modernity to suck the meaning out of everything.

I cannot see this working. As others have pointed out there are huge problems with the root systems, both in terms of space and not letting them invade the building. Not to mention what happens during a storm, dead tree removal, insects, bird guano, etc.

Besides which the whole point of having urban biodiversity is so that you CAN have habitat for birds and insects. The trees aren't just there to produce oxygen. If you have to constantly fight insect infestations in your urban building-forest, you aren't doing something right.
Human habitation and wildlife habitat just don't mingle in high density. Suburbs would actually work rather well if people refrain from spraying their lawns with chemicals and keeping cats.

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