Originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald by Greg Callaghan on 25 August 2018.
You could be forgiven for imagining the striking towers of One Central Park on Sydney’s Broadway, whose north and west facades are smothered with up to 40,000 indigenous plants, are a one-off exercise in urban environmentalism, designed for apartment dwellers with deep pockets. But the reality is that green-covered towers – plantscrapers – are springing up across the globe.
It’s no surprise; they’re adept at fighting air pollution, reducing energy costs and creating more peaceful places to live. Most of these new-generation “living” towers are wrapped in plants on all sides, and not just two, such as One Central Park. Italian architect Stefano Boeri, whose award-winning plant-covered Bosco Verticale towers in Milan have been shown to be highly effective insulators against heat and cold, has designed an entire city in China enveloped in nature.
By 2020, construction is expected to begin on Liuzhou Forest City, an urban landscape in which offices, houses, hotels, a hospital and two schools will be entirely carpeted in 1 million plants and 40,000 trees. The city aims to be energy self-sufficient through a combination of solar and geothermal energy. Boeri is also working on a foliage-covered social housing project in the Netherlands.
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