The Bosco Verticale Project

The Bosco Verticale project, set up by Italian architect Stephano Boeri, aims to create a vertical forest around the outside of two high-rise apartment blocks in the centre of Milan. Each apartment will, we are told, include a balcony and each block will contain 900 small trees plus many shrubs and other plants. That sounds great. The project will provide an area of 10,000 square metres of green space in the heart of a metropolis. Check it out HERE

The benefits are many, from environmental services such as pollution reduction and oxygen production to providing uses for the grey water* produced by the residents.  Psychological benefits of trees and green areas aren’t mentioned but there is plenty of research showing that connections with nature increase recuperation times from injury and illness and lift moods.

But what are the drawbacks? Well, spiders for one. Wherever there is vegetation close to buildings there are spiders. Fine if you like them, a definite deal breaker if you don’t.

Maintenance is planned to be centralised but it could be an issue. How will each balcony be treated? Irrigation is planned to use rainwater runoff, but the issue of the lowest plants getting the same ration as the topmost ones could be tricky.

Will plants be planted or sown? What size plants will be used? Will they go for instant effect or grow the impact from nothing? Shade bearing plants will be needed deeper into the balcony with light-loving ones on the edge. However, they are all likely to reach for the sky, either upwards or sideways. And, presumably, they will also have to be carefully chosen for tolerance to winds, which can be of increased speed at height.

What about fruit? This could lead to an unwelcome, turbo-charged example of Newton’s apple, the fruit falling dozens of metres to remind someone below of the effects of gravity! Maybe each balcony where there is fruit will be kitted out with a net to catch windfalls.

But these drawbacks, or criticisms are just nit-picking.  What a great project.  A great way to create high-rise biodiversity.  We’re just not the first to come up with that idea.  What about trees?  These are single plants that can support hundreds of habitat niches within or over their body.  A veteran tree can be an SSSI* all by itself.

*grey water = rainwater and used water from apartments, including dishwater, bathwater and laundry water.

*SSSI = Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Article written by Steve Cox on June 4, 2014