Bosco Verticale, architectural biodiversity – a new alliance between forests and architecture

Stefano Boeri Architetti
Published: 29 November 2021
Last edited: 29 November 2021
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Summary

Bosco Verticale is a set of two towers providing 3,000 square metres of living space in the centre of Milan. The 20,000 plants growing on its exterior have made this building an international iconic of biophilic design. The idea from Stefano Boeri for these buildings was to create a "home for trees that houses humans and birds." The towers host 800 trees, 15,000 perennials, and 5,000 shrubs, equal to 30,000 square meters of forest on land. At the same time, the green curtain holds benefits for the microclimate in and around the buildings. To name a few, it regulates humidity and temperature and absorbs CO2 and microparticles. Management is done through 'flying gardeners', who descend from the building's roof for maintenance. Irrigation systems are digital and remotely controlled. Filtered water from the towers is used to reduce the water footprint. The Bosco Verticale buildings show an alternative way of generating space for biodiversity and sequestering carbon in a dense urban area.

Classifications

Region
North Europe
West and South Europe
Scale of implementation
Local
Ecosystem
Buildings and facilities
Green roofs / Green walls
Green spaces (parks, gardens, urban forests)
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Theme
Access and benefit sharing
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Cities and infrastructure
Ecosystem services
Health and human wellbeing
Mitigation
Sustainable livelihoods
Other theme
Housing
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
Sustainable urban infrastructure and services
Territorial and spatial development
Challenges
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Ecosystem loss
Lack of infrastructure
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 14: Ecosystem services

Location

Via Gaetano De Castillia 11, 20124 Milan Milan, Italy

Impacts

The project shows that buildings and green spaces can be intertwined into sustainable designs that provide multiple benefits for residents and nature. The green towers are a hotspot for biodiversity in Milan. A few years after the finalization of the Vertical Forest (2014), the building was found to provide a home for some 1,600 birds and butterflies. At the same time, vertical forests are a tool for CO2 uptake in buildings - the vegetation on the building will convert approximately 20,000 kg of carbon each year. 

 

The Bosco Verticale also shows a pathway for cities to combine high-density urban development with tree planting. This project allows for densification without compromising nature access, thereby reducing pressure on the city's surrounding hinterland. 

 

Lastly, the architectural concept of urban forestry is spreading to other metropolitan areas such as Eindhoven (Trudo Vertical Forest), Utrecht (Wonderwoods), and Antwerp (Palazzo Verde). While the towers in Milan were created for high-income groups, Eindhoven's vertical forest is built specifically as social housing. To generalize the concept, Stefano Boerie's studio is researching reproducible construction systems that can help other cities and developers uptake similar practices and make vertical forests available for all.

Contributed by

eline.vanremortel_41284's picture

Eline van Remortel IUCN Urban Alliance