27-Story Vertical Forest Under Construction

The Milan apartment building will feature a tree on each balcony, at only 5% of the construction costs. Christopher Woodward takes us deeper into the project and others in the "living architecture" movement.

"[Architect Stefano Boeri] argues it is a necessary response to the sprawl of the modern city. If the units were individual houses, it would require 50,000 sq m of land, and 10,000 sq m of woodland. Bosco Verticale is the first element in his proposed BioMilano, in which a green belt is created around the city and 60 abandoned farms on the outskirts are restored to community use."

Full Story: The age of flower towers



Another Architectural Gimmick

Today's architects specialize in coming up with gimmicks meant to attract attention to themselves.

I doubt if this one will work. Those trees must have very shallow roots, and they are obviously exposed to high winds. We will see how many trees fall down during the next major storm. You don't want to be walking near the building when this happens.

It is a distortion to compare the land used by these buildings with the amount of land used by individual houses. It would be fairer to compare it with the land used by traditional European apartment buildings of 5 or 6 stories. This tower takes maybe one-quarter as much land per person as a traditional European neighborhood.

Traditional European neighborhoods can reach densities of 100 people per acre or more. The land saved by building towers instead is such a tiny portion of total ecological footprint that it is insignificant.

Charles Siegel

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