Deep within the craggy mountains of China’s Guangxi region, something special is being built – or should that be grown? Ground has broken on a unique project, even for China: the Liuzhou Forest City.
Integration of green spaces into urban areas is nothing new. But building an entire city where plants will blanket its very building and boulevard? That’s a different story.
Liuzhou Forest City is nestled on a 175 hectare site along the banks of the Liu River. Once completed, 2020 has been earmarked as the project’s end-date, 30,000 people will make their homes beneath the greenery at Liuzhou.
As many as 1 million plants from 100 different species are to be planted around Liuzhou Forest City. 40,000 trees will be planted too. Italian architecture firm Stefano Boeri Architetti, the studio which planted the city’s first conceptual seeds, claims Liuzhou can absorb over 10,000 tons of CO2 and other pollutants a year.
900 tons of oxygen could be produced by the city’s plant life annually too.
It’s not just humans who benefit from the serene surrounds of this development. The birds and the bees get something sweet out of the deal as well. The various species of the Liuzhou region will be getting a new home, cultivating biodiversity in the area. And, as the world gets increasingly urbanised, this approach could help make the world more liveable for our animal friends as well as us.
It should be pointed out that residents won’t actually be living in buildings made from leaves, wood, and bark like some bizarre fantasy commune. Liuzhou will feature all the amenities of the modern city including a high-speed electric rail line.
It wouldn’t be right for a city to be draped underneath a canopy of miraculous green then powered by dirty, polluting fossil fuels. That’s why Liuzhou will rely on geothermal energy to power internal air condition systems. Solar panels will provide electrical power.
Stefano Boeri himself has previous when it comes to blending architecture and landscaping. He first pioneered the “Vertical Forest” concept in Milan. The Bosco Verticale Towers, built in 2014, were Boeri’s first attempt at covering residential structures from head to toe in plant life.
Boeri’s work was named as the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s “2015 Best Tall Building Award” two years ago. After opening in 2014, Bosco Verticale also won the International High Rise Award that same year.
It seems Bosco Verticale has been successful enough to be spun off into Liuzhou’s complete masterplan – and there might be another coming to Shijiazhuang in the north, one of China’s most polluted regions.
Building such a site in the country’s industrial heartland would be a real test for the concept as a practical solution to China’s spiralling pollution problems. Urban centres across the country routinely faces air stuffed with particulate levels that are higher than those found in the middle of raging forest fires.
1.1 million people a year lose their lives in China thanks to the effects of smog and dirty air. Hopefully projects like Liuzhou Forest City can cut this down. If successful, they could even be spun out into countries like India who face tough environmental challenges themselves.
Images: © Stefano Boeri Architetti