To conciliate country and city, green spaces and comfort, nature and humankind: this is what the Italian architect Stefano Boeri and his team aimed to when they conceived the highest residential skyscraper in Milan, to value the area of ‘Centro Direzionale‘ of the Lombard capital; a hard but winning challenge, not so much for the realization of the load-bearing structure, but rather for the connection of its ‘green’ functionality.
The Vertical Wood consists of two 111 m and 78 m residential towers which have a peculiar feature that inevitably catches one’s eye: more than 1000 of the most different species upholster the terraces, including trees, small bushes and flowering plants that shape a fantastic hanging garden. The essences are accurately distributed on the structure depending on their flowering season allowing to see a changing landscape by an external view: on the southern side there are evergreen and colored species, on the northern and western side there are autumnal painted plants, on the eastern side tenuously colored essences, so that the scenery always changes, from different angles.
Every tree is steadily anchored by a security rope, which is vertically stretched, so that if the trunks broke they would remain suspended and could not fall down, respecting security terms; furthermore, the plants overcame the wind tunnel tests in a high-stress condition, resisting to the energetic wind of the high heights. The team faced also the problem of waterproofing, solved through tanks of 3 meters cubed of terrain set on the terraces that stick out the facade of 3 and a half meters. Another issue that has been solved is the economy about the lifting machineries to bring water also to the plants at the highest floors, thanks to a centralized irrigation system constituted by heat pumps and detectors that take advantage of the undrinkable water coming from the first aquifer and which is used also for the air-conditioning machineries.
The pruning is also centralized through an external pruning and a supervision provided by specialists, who aim to shape homogenous forms. Moreover, there is an internal pruning that the residents can personally handle adding small changes, respecting the harmony of common wellness, though.
The various problems the team faced and solved are surely justified by the big environmental impact that the structure produces, since ‘dressing’ a build with vegetation generates many advantages both to the external viewers and mostly the residents. The are several benefits: acoustic isolation, filtering of the thin dust coming from urban smog, oxygen production, the lure of birds to support biodiversity; and mostly vegetation allows the creation of a proper micro-weather that inevitably influences the energetic expense, since the essences absorb the sunlight in the summer, maintaining a fresh temperature even in the summertime, allowing in this way to save money on the air-conditioning machineries.
But, since also our eyes and minds should be pleased, recent studies have proved that observation of nature has positive psychological effects on men.
The energetic saving doesn’t stop here; solar panels and other geothermic machineries have been installed, but most importantly, the facades, realized with the natural ventilation method, are clothed with isolating panels produced by natural and recycled materials. They are black and composed by sand, recycled glass and a small part of glucose used as a tie; the panels isolate from both heat and cold, minimize the energetic needs; they have a porous and elastic structure that protects from noise, they are fire resistant and assure breathability avoiding the creation of condensation within the walls that would include the risk of mold.
This time Italian bureaucracy could only slow down the project which is finally realized, and you can admire it thanks to these amazing shots caught by a drone.
Header Image Credits: milanoreporter.it/
Ingegnere Strutturista laureato presso l’Università di Pavia con una tesi sul comportamento sismico degli edifici in muratura, attualmente si occupa di progettazione di strutture all’avanguardia. Responsabile editoriale di BuildingCuE, in passato ha collaborato con Teknoring e Scientificast. La divulgazione scientifica rappresenta la sua missione quotidiana.