Looking up to see a forest is becoming the new city view. Vertical Forest buildings are popping up around the world in cities like Paris, Milan, Shanghai, Astana, Eindhoven and Tirana, to name a few. The tall buildings prevent urban sprawl while bringing trees, shrubs and plants closer to home in the urban environment. Most impressively, they reduce energy use, improve air quality and increase urban biodiversity. An inspiration for a city like Delhi, which is one of the five main cities of the Clean Energy Challenge. Our key question for this rapidly expanding metropole is: How can we promote clean and green buildings in Delhi?

Vertical Forests are designed for the environmental survival of contemporary cities, by Italian architect Stefano Boeri. The buildings reduce indoor and outdoor temperatures in hot climates, absorb CO2 and dust while producing oxygen for cleaner air. They are a new generation of high-rise urban buildings, completely covered by the leaves of trees and plants. A high-density forestation project that increases green and permeable surfaces in the city.


Interior, Tower of Cedars building, Lausanne (photo: Stefano Boeri Architetti)

Energy Saving Design

To implement designs like these in Delhi, would give new meaning to India’s long standing traditions of living in harmony with nature. The trees and shrubs on the buildings are irrigated with groundwater pulled by a pump system, powered by solar panels located on the roof. The water which is used by the trees and shrubs, returns purified in the atmosphere in the form of water vapour.

The water vapour produced by the plants extract heat from the surrounding environment, sharply reducing the need for air-conditioning. The vegetation acts as a filter on the balconies determining a reduction of nearly 3 degrees between outside and inside temperature and in summer, a decrease in the heating of the façades by up to 30 degrees. It’s an ideal living architectural technique to reduce uncomfortably high building temperatures.

Liuzhou Forest City

Liuzhou Forest City is a project to build a city in China filled with Vertical Forest buildings, hosting in total 40,000 trees and almost 1 million plants of over 100 species. The diffusion of plants will be in the parks and gardens, along the streets and also over building facades. This will allow the energy self-sufficient city to contribute to improve the air quality, absorbing both CO2 and fine dust of 57 tons per year. As well as decrease the average air temperature while creating noise barriers and improving the biodiversity of living species. It will generate more habitats for birds, insects and small animals that inhabit the Liuzhou territory.


Liuzhou Forest City (photo: Stefano Boeri Architetti)

Social Housing Project

Home to a well-known design school, Dutch city Eindhoven will be the first to adopt a vertical forest building as a social housing project. The housing will be available to young people with low income who have an urban lifestyle. “The high-rise building of Eindhoven confirms that it is possible to combine the great challenges of climate change with those of housing shortages.” declares Stefano Boeri.

The Vertical Forest in Eindhoven will create a green habitat in the metropolitan environment to facilitate the development of biodiversity. An authentic eco-system with over 70 different plant species able to counteract atmospheric pollution, thanks to the capacity of trees to absorb over 50 tons of carbon dioxide every year.

Inspired by living architecture to naturally decrease energy use? Share your ideas for sustainable building practices in the Clean Energy Challenge.