Amazing Places

China's Plans For A Modern Forest City Could Shelter 30,000 Beneath A Blanket Of Trees

Imagine a living forest transformed, unharmed, into a working city. This isn't an elven kingdom from the Lord of the Rings or the forest moon of Endor. It's a real place — or at least it's going to be. The Chinese government has broken ground on a, well, groundbreaking plan for a city that more than offsets its own carbon output. It's called Liuzhou Forest City, and it's on schedule to be completed by 2020.

Concrete Jungle

Designed by the Italian firm Stefano Boeri Architetti (SBA), the plans for the finished forest city are a sight to behold. It's got much the same shape as any other city, though some of the low, ziggurat-like buildings almost evoke a natural hill or mound. But what really catches your eye is the plant life. Every inch of this place, from the apartment buildings to the hospitals to the public schools, is covered in green. Lush woodlands cover every flat roof, and other plants take over the vertical space by hanging over the many balconies.

The plants help diminish the city's pollution footprint, but they're only the most visible part of a holistically eco-friendly design. Geothermal and solar energy will help the city regulate its temperature, and transit will be covered by an electric rail. When complete, the 40,000 trees of Liuzhou Forest City will absorb up to 10,000 tons of CO2 and 57 tons of industrial grime, and produce approximately 900 tons of oxygen.

An Eco-Architectural Trend

The project is unprecedented in scope, but not in concept. In fact, SBA has developed kind of a knack for these sorts of things. Case in point: their Bosco Verticale ("Vertical Forest") in Milan, a residential complex that proved tree-covered apartments work back in 2014. In fact, SBA has already drawn up plans for other Chinese forest cities, and one tree-covered luxury hotel integrated into a mountain. It's not a coincidence that these similar projects would all be in the works at once. In June of 2017, the Chinese government announced a nationwide "War on Pollution." It's a $440 billion initiative to direct the country's powerful economy toward a greener world. Here's hoping China's not alone in the fight — not only do we kind of like this planet, but we'd love the chance to live in a vertical forest someday, too.

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Vertical Forest Skyscraper, Milan

Written By
Reuben Westmaas
July 19, 2017