Africa’s First Vertical Urban Forest

Cities tend to be major origins of pollution sources. Many are home to thousands or millions of people, cars, metal and concrete buildings, and other infrastructure that take the place of natural, oxygen producing land. Although we need cities, they don’t balance themselves out when it comes to offsetting their pollution. One way that cities can start to balance out their emissions is through the creation of vertical forests.

What are Vertical Forests?

Vertical forests are buildings that integrate natural resources like trees, shrubs, and food-producing plants into spaces that can also be used as housing or offices.


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The idea of vertical forests started in 2014 with the construction of Bosco Verticale, two residential tower blocks in Milan. These two towers were home to residents in Milan as well as 900 trees and over 20,000 smaller shrubs and plants.

Bosco Verticale building in Milan, Italy. Photo: Plflcn, MediaWiki Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Bosco Verticale building in Milan, Italy. Photo: Plflcn, MediaWiki Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Other vertical forests have been built in Singapore, Sydney, China, and the Netherlands.

Egypt: Home to Africa’s First Vertical Forest

Egypt is the latest country to begin implementing the concept of vertical forests. A production of Italian architect Stefano Boeri, as well as Egyptian designer Shimaa Shalash and Italian landscaper Laura Gatti, three buildings are set to grace the skyline of Cairo’s New Administrative Capital.

Concept drawing of Cairo's first vertical forest. Image: Stefano Boeri Architetti

Concept drawing of Egypt’s first vertical forest. Image: Stefano Boeri Architetti

The New Administrative Capital is set to move the existing embassies and governmental ministries to a location east of the current city of Cairo. Additionally, residential neighborhoods and a financial district will also be moved to the new capital city area.

The Benefits of Vertical Forests

These buildings will be the first vertical forests in Africa. Shaped like cubes and rising seven stories above the desert floor, the terraces of the buildings will contain 350 trees and 14,000 different kinds of shrubs, comprised of over 100 different species.

Just a few hundred meters of space in a building can help clean the air, provide urban areas with natural greenery, give local animals a safe habitat, and improve the mental and physical health of the people around them. These plants help filter dust and dirt from the air, in addition to absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.

In addition to balancing the pollution created by large urban areas, vertical forests provide apartment block housing for residents that helps prevent more urban sprawl. In a place like Cairo, where it can take hours to get across the city, reducing the time spent on the road is essential for residents.

The creation of vertical forests not only benefits people, but the environment and the Earth as well.

References

Learning from the first Vertical Forest. Stefano Boeri Architetti.  Retrieved from https://www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net/en/vertical-foresting/

Hutt, Rosamond. Africa is set to get its first vertical forest. World Economic Forum.  15 August 2019. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/08/africa-is-set-to-get-its-first-vertical-forest

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