A way forward?
Billions of people around the world are surrounded by metal, steel, and concrete: called a city. But what will be the answer to the growing population numbers the coming decades? The expectation for 2050 is that the population will surge from 7.7 billion to a shocking 10 billion! When thinking of the future, sustainability is a key factor and therefore also in the world of architecture. Not only based on material choices. Urban forests are taking over!
Is this the end of an era known as ‘the concrete jungle’?
So, let’s get back to the World’s ever-expanding population. Back in 1990, our planet counted a total of 10 megacities (= a city with more than 10 million inhabitants). Nowadays, there are 46 and counting! Tokyo is taking the lead with more than 38 million inhabitants. As a result of the growing population, the inhabitants of cities will expand as well. According to the Population Division” report from the UN, 68% of the World’s population in 2050 will be living in cities.
Our generation (and future generations) will, therefore, face some serious housing problems. Remember that a lot of habitable space is occupied for agricultural activities. I mean, in the future we’ll also need food! Luckily, we tackled the space-problem years ago by inventing apartment buildings and skyscrapers. Nowadays aim is not expanding our cities by cutting down more forests. This isn’t a sustainable solution. As we know, trees are ‘the lungs’ of our planet since they convert the huge amounts of CO2 (we pump in the air), to oxygen through photosynthesis.
When combining the lack of space together with the fight against greenhouse gases, we end up with Urban Forests. The following projects show a huge potential!
The ‘1000 Trees Complex’
Back in 2015, the ‘1000 Trees Complex’ was revealed by Thomas Heaterwick. It shows an amazing tree-covered development on a man-built mountain, as seen in the header for this article. One of the requirements for this complex was that it could hold a large and dense population. Heaterwick’s studio came to a realization that another big concrete building would not sit well next to the neighboring art district, river and park. This resulted in residential homes, up to 100-meter high, with a park-like feeling. A perfect example of future urban forests!
It is currently under construction on a 300.00 m2 lot near the art district M50 in Shanghai. When finished, this enormous complex will contain office space, car parking, shops, a school, hotels and art galleries. And the best part is that it will be covered with more than 1000 trees and bushes!
The ’empire city towers’
It’s meant to become the most iconic building in Ho-Chi min city. And it probably will be! Earlier this year, the Bureau of Ole Scheeren published the plan of a mega-project in the capital of Vietnam. Three skyscrapers of a total height of 333 meters will rise up from the surface. The absolute eye-catcher will be the multi-level vertical garden in the middle, called the ‘Sky Forest‘. The ground levels will resemble hovering rice terraces. Just like Vietnam’s rural landscape!
The towers will contain 88 livable floors in combination with commercial and recreational areas. Also, co-working spaces will be integrated throughout the towers. And not to forget; these towers will also have a public observation deck at the top!
The ‘ Trudo Vertical Forest’
This concept design of the ‘ Trudo Vertical Forest’ is released in 2017 by Stefano Boeri. The construction is planned the be finished in 2019, in the city of Eindhoven (Netherlands). And as the name suggests, it’s exactly that! This 19 floor-building will consist out of 125 housing units and each apartment will contain 1 tree, 20 shrubs and over 4 m2 of terraces. So, in total the complex will consist out of 125 trees, 5.200 shrubs and plants. Therefor resembling a vertical forest. According to ‘Trudo‘, this results in the absorption of 50.000 kilograms of CO2 a year, for the city of Eindhoven!
This building will be the first of it’s kind. The reason is that the apartment complex is not targeting the rich-and-famous. No, this building will be part of a social housing project. The surface area of the apartments will be around 50 m2 and therefore targets lower incomes, or starters with a life in the urban region.
So, yes: Urban Forests are a way forward!
In collaboration with the FOA (Food and Agriculture Organization) and the team of Stefano Boeri, the first ‘World Forum on Urban Forests’ will be held in Mantova (Italy) from 28th of November to 1 December of 2018. The forum will emphasize the importance of the integration of nature in our future cities.