Beijing authorities’ previous attempts to control the pollution problem have focused on reducing emissions from factories and power plants. However Nanjing is now pioneering an alternative approach, with China’s first “vertical forest”.
The “forest” consists of two towers covered with trees and plants, and containing offices and a hotel. The architect of the scheme, Stefano Boeri, created a similar complex in Milan, and says that his designs help tackle pollution:
“It is positive because the presence of such a large number of plants, trees and shrubs is contributing to the cleaning of the air, contributing to absorbing CO2 and producing oxygen,” Boeri told the Guardian. “And what is so important is that this large presence of plants is an amazing contribution in terms of absorbing the dust produced by urban traffic.”
Of course a single complex will have a limited impact, but the architect has more ambitious plans, for “forest cities”, sustainable communities within existing conurbations.
“Two towers in a huge urban environment is so, so small a contribution,” Boeri said, “but it is an example. We hope that this model of green architecture can be repeated and copied and replicated.”
There are challenges too, of course: the plants have to be maintained and trimmed so that they don’t obscure views of the city. The plans will also die sometimes and will need to be replaced. However, the Bosco Verticale in Milan has been in operation since 2014 and is regarded as a success, having won several awards. The Nanjing complex is scheduled to open next year. We can only hope that the Beijing authorities will be watching with interest.