CHINA’S FOREST CITY: BATTLING POLLUTION ONE PLANT AT A TIME

It’s no secret: China is an industrial powerhouse. They serve up consumer-oriented goods faster than we can serve up burger and fries State-side. But, those factories and that enviable material making has come at a price: heavy air pollution. Overseas, it’s not uncommon for school to be cancelled due to a day ruined by smog, masks are worn regularly, and there are mornings that look like night as the sun fights to peak through a heavy layer of pollution soot. In other words, conditions are not ideal…they’re concerning. The pollution problem is actually responsible for over a million deaths in China each year, with many urban areas being subject to conditions that rival those in the middle of forest fires.

The problem with these concerns however, is that these are levels of pollution like the world has never seen. And as such, we need equally inventive solutions – and they are coming forth in spades. One of the latest projects added to the anti-pollution pile? A “Forest City.”

The Forest City is a project dreamt up by Italian architect Stefano Boeri and will cover 342 acres, acting as a self-contained city complete with a wide variety of normal  needs including but not limited to homes, schools, hospitals, hotels, and offices. Amidst the necessary buildings, though, will be something else entirely : greenery. The city will be covered with roughly 40,000 trees and almost a million plants. The unusual surplus of plant life should help to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide and pollutants each year, while simultaneously producing 900 tons of oxygen per year. In addition to the benefits the greenery will bring to the atmosphere, it will also serve as a place for misplaced animals to call home. In true “green” fashion, the buildings will be powered by solar energy collected through panels, and geothermal energy will make air-conditioning a reality.

This will not be a stab in dark for Boeri – his team has recently successfully completed similar projects (though this project will be on a much larger scale.) The “Vertical Forest,” which now exists in Milan and consists of two residential buildings covered in roughly five acres of forest, has thus far been able to to remove 30,000 to 35,000 pounds of soot each year – making the team proud and confident about what they can do with an entire city. Speaking to CNN, Boeri commented:

“We started to imagine if it was possible to create an urban environment created from many of these vertical forests. We’ve seen what’s happening (in terms of pollution) in Beijing and Shanghai, but at the same time, China has to create to cities, to accommodate the population.”

forest3

The first step of the project has gone off with out a hitch; the Liuzhou Municipality Urban Planning Bureau has approved the plan. Still though, the project’s success will loom as a question mark as it moves slowly toward completion. Construction will begin in 2020, with a lot of research, planning, and careful execution ahead of the project leaders yet.

The 30,000 future inhabitants of this Fern Gully-esque modern city will not be isolated. According to Mashable, the people there will be connected to the main Liuzhou city, which is currently home to 3.8 million, via a fast-rail line used by electric cars. Boeri is confident – this is the right direction – the future of architecture.

Will we all soon be living among trees in an attempt to catch (and keep) a breath of fresh air? Time will tell. But until then, hats off to China. Stay fresh, friends.

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