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Tech by VICE

The First Forested Skyscraper is Almost Here

Behold the vertical forest.

by Brian Merchant
Jan 11 2013, 4:58pm

Call it the first living skyscraper, call it a vertical forest—the Bosco Verticale may have been scoffed at, called infeasible when it was first announced, but the towering green superstructure is now actually nearing completion in Milan. It's exactly what it appears to be: two towers built with ample space for thickets of trees and other foliage to wrap around the facade.

The result is a tree-lined monolith, impressive not just in aspect but also in function: the Verticale will help absorb particulate pollution and CO2, cool the city block thanks to the uptick in evapotranspiration, and lower the building's heating bills.

Inhabitat has the stats:

The two towers measure 260 feet and 367 feet tall respectively, and together they have the capacity to hold 480 big and medium size trees, 250 small size trees, 11,000 ground-cover plants and 5,000 shrubs (that’s the equivalent of 2.5 acres of forest). The types of trees were chosen based on where they would be positioned on the buildings’ facades and it took over two years of working with botanists to decide which trees would be most appropriate for the buildings and the climate. The plants used in the project were grown specifically for the building, pre-cultivated so that they would gradually acclimate to the conditions they would experience once placed on the building.

As anyone who's spent time in Italy during the summer knows, it gets hot. July and August can be scorching, even in the north. When Milan hits 100 ˚F, as it's wont to do, the Bosco will certainly make for one popular city block.

Here's to hoping the building sets something of a precedent—skyscrapers are popping up all over the world's burgeoning cities, and most often they're drab, grey, and steely. Climate change will ensure that those blocks get hot and nasty on the regular, and places like, say, Beijing, Sao Paulo, and Dehli will get ugly fast.

Since it's hard to go back and add big green spaces like parks after the blocks are full, this could be a good way to integrate a serious amount of plant life into a city after the fact.