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Vertical Forest in Seattle?

By Leanne Goulding
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As our cities become not only denser but also larger, encroaching on undeveloped land, we are losing our green spaces to concrete & asphalt, steel & wood.

A walk through our own Bell Town in downtown Seattle is a telling example. Where are the trees, the open spaces, the green? Architects in Europe have developed clever and imaginative solutions.

One cutting-edge project is Bosco Verticale, Italian for Vertical Forest. The design integrates vertical housing (think condos or apartments) with thick plantings of trees and shrubs.



This project, designed by Stefano Boeri Architects in Milan is 27 and 14 stories and currently under construction. Each unit has a terrace planted with deciduous trees and mixed deciduous & evergreen shrubs.

Besides the obvious aesthetic advantages, the plantings provide summer cooling and winter sunlight for heating and light. They also reduce wind, pollution and sound. The plants take up co2 and release oxygen, the perfect complement to people.

Trees selections include Amelanchier, Arbutus, Crataegus, Koelreuteria, Pyrus, Quercus, and Fraxinus. The architect, Stefano Boeri estimates that the additional construction and plants add only 5% to the construction cost. A bargain.

The Netherlands architectural and urban design firm, MVRDV has designed a similar housing solution, 21 stories with one- to four-bedroom units in Valencia, Spain called Torre Huerta.

Huerta is Spanish for a fertile area common in Spain and Portugal in which vegetables and fruit trees are cultivated for family consumption. The architects explain:

A lot of huerta is lost, “destroyed”. Why not “transplant and transport” these “condemned” huerta plots to the future building, thus creating a vertical huerta where every single house has its own huerta. Every house (apartment) has a big balcony with a garden, an exterior extension of the interior living room.

Valencia Mediterranean climate allows staying outdoors 9 months per year. Building climate and sun control is done in the most natural way; through green vegetation (orange trees, lemon trees, olives, almonds, lavender….).

One could even grow its own fruit, which is very usual in Valencia. Contact between society and nature is maximized at Torre Huerta – not only in the public areas, but also in every house at a smaller and private scale.

It is heartening to see such thoughtful and creative solutions and that nature is being so valued, appreciated and integrated.



Leanne has over 20 years of experience of working closely with clients to create unique and imaginative gardens.

She has co-created gardens in four Northwest Flower & Garden Shows, receiving several awards, including Gold in 2013.

To discuss your garden, Vertical or otherwise, contact her today at 206.948.1601.

Author: Leanne Goulding

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