Plant-covered buildings do far more than fit in with this year’s leafy green trend; they contribute to environmental health and make urban citizens feel good. According to a report from global engineering firm Arup, living building facades can reduce air pollution by up to 20%. They also play a role in making streetscapes noticeably quieter, as living materials absorb more sound than most urban materials. Another advantage of plants in a city setting is the regulation of internal temperatures, therefore reducing the cost of heating and cooling in high-rise buildings. All in all, plant-covered buildings aren’t just about pretty exteriors (though they certainly provide that, too) and should be seriously considered when it comes to sustainable city planning. Here, we explore our top three inner-city vertical gardens that give new meaning to the term ‘urban jungle’.
Quite literally meaning vertical garden, the Bosco Verticale in Milan, Italy, is a pair of residential towers that was awarded the Best Tall Building Worldwide award in 2016 by The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. This means they beat more than 120 skyscrapers, including the World Trade Center in New York City and the Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid Tower in Abu Dhabi. The two towers are 256 feet and 334 feet respectively, and are covered from top to bottom in over 700 trees and 90 plant species. Picture this: if all the trees were laid out flat, the forest would cover a surface area of nearly two acres.
The Santalaia brings a burst of freshness to the city of Bogotá in Colombia. Nine stories high and covering 3 117m², the apartment complex is one of the world’s largest vertical gardens. It was created by biologist and botanist Ignacio Solano, and is made up of over 115 000 plants of 10 different species. Not only does the greenery make the city more visually appealing, it also contributes to its health: the plant cover helps offset the carbon footprint for about 700 people, produces enough oxygen for 3 000 people and filters out the pollutants of 745 cars per year.
tao zhu yin yuan tower
Although not completed yet, the Tao Zhu Yin Yuan Tower is set to be finished later this year. The eco-friendly building, designed by architect Vincent Callebaut, is currently undergoing construction in Taipei. Inspired by the double-helix structure of DNA, the tower is wrapped in vertical gardens, including suspended orchards and vegetable and aromatic gardens, and will absorb 130 tons of carbon dioxide a year. The building will also encourage residents to reduce their energy consumption with additions such as natural lighting and ventilation as well as rainwater recycling and rooftop solar panels.