The Rise of Green Cities

Italian-born architect Stefano Boeri sees green cities; with high-rise towers overflowing with fauna and foliage reaching the sky. Boeri is famed for Bosco Verticale, two towers he designed in Milan, both clad in 900 trees and 20,000 smaller plants. (1)

Bosco Verticale

Bosco Verticale, Milan. Source: (1)

Vertical Forest

Vertical Forest, Nanjing. Source: (2)

His next planned project will be in Nanjing, China, named “Vertical Forest,” and is planned to consist of two towers covered in over 2,500 shrubs and 23 species of trees. (1)

Combatting air pollution

China is renowned for its air pollution and smog, and such a large number of trees and plants will have an impact on air pollution levels. In fact, the buildings are planned to produce 60kg of oxygen every single day, and absorb a total of 25 tons of carbon dioxide a year. (3)

In the grand scheme of things, however, the effect won’t come near to curing China’s air pollution, which kills over a million people each year. (4) However, it’s a step in the right direction, and the concept is rising even further. Boeri himself hopes that the architectural style will progress from single vertical forests to entire green cities, claiming he wants to “create a series of sustainable mini-cities that could provide a green roadmap for the future of urban China.” (3) He continued, We have been asked to design an entire city where you don’t only have one tall building but you have 100 or 200 buildings of different sizes, all with trees and plants on the facades.” (5) Below is an artist’s impression of his plans for Liuzhou, China.

green cities

Source: (3) 

Planting the seed: The origins

The trend, which Boeri coined as “Vertical ForestING,” involves giving nature back its place within our hunger for urbanization. It is a project for the ecological survival of existing cities; a living, breathing, urban landmark with the potential to reverse climate damage. (6)

The rise of green cities 

Aside from Boeri’s Bosco Verticale in Milan, his plans for Vertical Forest in Nanjing, and turning Liuzhou into a green city, the concept has made its way around the world:

One Central Park

One Central Park, Sydney. Source: (7)

  • One Central Park in Sydney, are apartment blocks covered in over 38,000 exotic and indigenous plants. Blanc and Nouvel, the architecture firm behind the development described it as “A flower for each resident, and a bouquet to the city.” (1)

Kangaroo Point’s Walan development

Kangaroo Point’s Walan development, Brisbane. Source: (8)

  • Kangaroo Point’s Walan development in Brisbane, is another example of the trends currency. The plan is to take the green wall concept to new heights, “by creating a vertical forest [where] trees will grow up the spine of the main street elevation.” (8)



Supertrees, Singapore. Source: (9)

  • Supertrees in Singapore. These concrete towers, each 50 metres tall, are covered in hundreds of tiny plants. Some towers also include rainwater tanks and solar panels, which power the surrounding park’s energy. (1)

Vincent Callebaut’s eco-neighbourhood in Brussels

Vincent Callebaut’s eco-neighbourhood in Brussels

Source: 10

  • Vincent Callebaut’s eco-neighbourhood in Brussels. Including three residential vertical forests, five extravagant mixed-use spaces and an open-air auditorium, the 135,000 sq. m project is an entire mini-city devoted to green living. (10)

Quite literally breathing life into the term “urban jungle,” the architectural movement could replace the cold, concrete feel many cities hold. More importantly, however, “Vertical ForestING” has the potential to slow down climate change, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and create a more sustainable life which is in harmony with nature.

Written by Jenna Kamal

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