Deforestation and pollution have become a serious trouble and are even more of a concern in big cities with the air quality being constantly deteriorated by the fumes from vehicles and industries. And while the pollution is increasing, the green cover required to combat is decreasing, mainly to clear space for human settlement. Hence, our cities are turning into concrete jungles with the quality of air decreasing, thus increasing the chance of a variety of diseases. To combat this a new idea has been developed by builders and architects around the world, Vertical Forest or a Treescraper! It consists of a building which is based on an integration of modern architecture along with planting of trees and plants to create a green space.
The Vertical Forest has trees and plants to absorb carbon dioxide and suspended particulate matter(SPM), which helps in reducing smog while creating a buffer to dampen the noise pollution, and are believed to lessen the heating effect around the building and in the area nearby because of transpiration from the trees and plants thus providing a cool environment upto an extent which translates to lesser energy consumption. A single building can be beneficial for the surrounding area, and in the current scenario where demands for space is growing, this can be a healthy compromise between sustainability and productivity.
Following the concept, Italian firm Stefano Boeri Architetti designed a Vertical Forest building which has won them multiple innovation and design awards – second place in Emporis Skyscraper Award and also came first in the Best Tall Building Worldwide, decided by a jury from The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. What makes this so special is that the treescrapers beat some great iconic buildings like World Trade Center, NYC. This does mark the change in perception and want for sustainable and environment friendly buildings.
According to the designer and architect Stefano Boeri, the added greenery serves as a way to redefine the urban space. In his own words, “It is a model of vertical densification of nature within the city.” And it can be considered dense, as the two Vertical Forest towers, one 256-foot and the other 344-foot, are covered from top to bottom by more than 700 trees and 90 species of plants. For perspective, if all the trees and plants were planted on a single piece of land, the forest will take an area of about two acres more or less.
And now with China’s announcement that it will be using the services of Stefano Boeri to build at least two Vertical Forest towers in Nanjing to combat the worrisome air pollution present in China, the idea has received a new fillip. The project has an estimated completion time of 2018 and initial reports suggest that each building will be able to absorb upto 25 kg of carbon dioxide and give out 60 kgs of oxygen in a year.
Arun Swaminathan, Bengaluru based Environment Architect and Academician says, “Creating vertical gardens is the need of the hour in India. Architects, engineers and developers and political leaders, of course, should look at green buildings as an alternative. It starts from your balcony itself. At the same time, we should keep planting more trees because there is no replacement for trees.”
With such announcements coming from around the world, it remains to be seen if a similar model of Vertical Forest can be built in our metropolitan cities – Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru where pollution is wreaking havoc. However the high cost of developing may not deem fit as a profitable venture for our debt ridden developers who try every antic to decrease cost. Also to make a considerable effect in the pollution levels around the cities, quite a few of these buildings will need to be put in place, with their set of challenges to work upon.
Durgesh Agrahari, head of partnerships and projects at Bengaluru based SayTrees Environmental Trust said,”It is one way of creating vertical gardens. In India, another way is to create gardens around flyover pillars. Shrubs and bushes which also act as dust absorbents will be used. We do not have much space in cities and old trees are being cut across the country. To ensure a green cover in the city itself, we would focus on walls of buildings and pillars. However, initial costs of installation would be expensive but it will be worth it”
Although the project may not see the light of the day in a few years in our cities, we may keep hoping for a greener future for that is the only sustainable way in long run!