Two residential towers in Milan, Italy that will house over 900 trees are bringing green architecture to the forefront of building design in a period where architecture is facing upheaval.
According to Emporis, a global authority on building and construction, in times of climate change and a shortage of resources, environmentally-responsible construction, sustainability and energy efficiency are becoming increasingly important.
Green architecture reflects buildings that feature roof gardens, green walls and natural methods of ventilation in a bid to reconnect cities to nature. In a skyscraper environment, architecture is responding through the use of vertical gardens, helping to mitigate the environmental impacts of urban sprawl.
“In the coming years, a sea of green, consisting of trees, flowers and tendrils, will gradually conquer sterile high-rise facades, creating a wholly new urban landscape in the process,” Emporis says.
In Milan, the two towers that make up the complex named Bosco Verticale, or Vertical Forest, will be a world first with principal architect Stefano Boeri calling the project both "radical" and an "experiment".
“Bosco Verticale is a project for metropolitan reforestation that contributes to the regeneration of the environment and urban biodiversity without the implication of expanding the city,” Boeri says.
The unique model of vertical intensification will see the 110-metre and 76-metre buildings of Bosco Verticale become home to over 10,000 square metres of forest, offering a harmonious green environment for residents.
Milan has an urgent need for improved air quality, and the green project is set to deliver a healthy outcome through a system designed to “optimize, recuperate and produce energy” by capturing carbon dioxide and dust while naturally heating and cooling the towers through an integrated photovoltaic system.
Bosco Verticale joins nine other projects on a list of the most exciting examples of green architecture outlined in Emporis' Green, not gray: Plants are taking over architecture report. Green, not gray also lists the recently-completed “green city” housed within the PARKROYAL on Pickering in Singapore and one of the earlier examples of green architecture – the Menara Mesingiaga tower in Subang Jaya, Malaysia.
Back in 1992, self-titled “eco-architect” Ken Yeang decided to use plants as part of the Menara Mesingiaga’s structure.
"Thanks to its unique facade guaranteeing natural ventilation, and its generous greenery on each floor, the tower is regarded as ecologically pioneering and as the world's first bioclimatic high-rise," Emporis said.
Completed this year, Singapore’s PARKROYAL by WOHA architects has captured global attention for its building-as-garden concept, with the 12-storey structure entirely wrapped within multiple solar-powered vertical gardens, green valleys, reflecting pools and water features that cover 15,000 square metres of the building.
"The project has also set a model example for sustainable buildings around the world as it is located in one of the worlds most densely populated cities sending a clear message – that nature is reclaiming the city," Emporis said of the building, which is predicted to disappear under the green of its plants in the foreseeable future.
Emporis adds that multinational corporations also see green architecture as an opportunity to provide their employees with a healthy working environment that is in tune with nature.
“With Apple, Facebook and Google all having released plans for new, sustainable corporate headquarters, Amazon followed suit a few weeks ago with a spectacular concept – three enormous glass domes reminiscent of conservatories are to be constructed to house tall, mature trees situated on the grounds of the office complex the company is planning to build in Seattle," the organisation said.
While Australia did not feature on the compiled list, the upcoming One Central Park project in Sydney is set to become the tallest vertical garden in the world according to French artist and botanist Patrick Blanc. Blanc is behind the greenery of One Central Park and has been globally cited for modernising the vertical garden over 40 years ago boasting an extensive green wall portfolio.
The project, which comes with a rumoured price tag of $2 billion, will feature two 150-metre towers and is expected to consist of 21 panels and planter boxes covering 1,120 square metres, with 35,200 plants from 383 native and exotic species used in the design.