Future of the Environment

Africa is set to get its first vertical forest

The Bosco Verticale (vertical forest) towers are seen in Milan, August 29, 2015. Long the ugly sister to Florence, Venice and Rome, Italy's business capital Milan is enjoying a renaissance, its once drab skyline coming to life and a new creative vibrancy emerging. Picture taken August 29, 2015. To match Feature ITALY-MILAN/      REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo - GF10000197657

Vertical forests have already been welcomed in China's polluted cities. Image: REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

Rosamond Hutt
Senior Writer, Formative Content
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Future of the Environment?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Future of the Environment is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Future of the Environment

The Egyptian desert is set to host the African continent's first vertical forest.

Italian architect and urban planner Stefano Boeri has unveiled designs for three buildings covered with pollution-absorbing trees and plants in Egypt's New Administrative Capital, which is under construction in the desert east of Cairo.

Boeri’s Milan-based practice, Stefano Boeri Architetti, has designed vertical forests for cities around the world - but the Egyptian project will be the first of its kind for Africa.

He is collaborating with Egyptian designer Shimaa Shalash and Italian landscape architect Laura Gatti on the trio of cube-shaped, seven-storey buildings that will comprise the development in the nascent city.

The planted terraces will provide shade and habitats for wildlife.
The planted terraces will provide shade and habitats for wildlife. Image: Stefano Boeri Architetti

The buildings will have planted terraces containing 350 trees and 14,000 shrubs of more than 100 different species. One of the three buildings will be a hotel, while the other two will house apartment units.

The planned new capital will eventually host ministries, embassies, residential neighbourhoods and a financial district. It will replace the current capital, Cairo, which suffers from severe overcrowding, traffic congestion and air pollution.

Why do they matter?

Vertical forests pack thousands of square metres of greenery into just a few hundred square metres of urban space, providing shade and creating habitats for birds and insects, according to Boeri.

The trees, shrubs and plants absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen and filter dust from the air.

The concept took off in 2014, with Milan’s Bosco Verticale, a pair of residential 110- and 76 meter tower blocks, designed by Boeri, with around 900 trees and more than 20,000 smaller plants and shrubs.

Have you read?

In recent years, large-scale green architecture projects have been taking root in major cities, from Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay to Sydney’s One Central Park.

An architectural rendering of the Nanjing Green Towers.
An architectural rendering of the Nanjing Green Towers. Image: Stefano Boeri Architetti

Meanwhile, Liuzhou Forest City - another Boeri project- is under construction in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi. It will have more than 40,000 trees and 1 million plants covering its buildings.

The trees and plants in Liuzhou Forest City are expected to annually absorb 10,000 tonnes of CO2 and 57 tonnes of pollutants, while producing about 900 tonnes of oxygen.

In the Netherlands, Boeri has also designed the 19-story Trudo Vertical Forest, which will house 125 affordable units targeting low-income families.

In addition to tackling pollution, vertical forests also help to prevent sprawl and provide more housing – a growing issue as the world continues to urbanize at a rapid pace. By 2050, 68% of the global population will be living in towns and cities, compared to 55% today, according to the UN.

The Liuzhou Forest City will have more than 40,000 trees and 1 million plants on buildings.
The Liuzhou Forest City will have more than 40,000 trees and 1 million plants on buildings. Image: Stefano Boeri Architetti
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Future of the EnvironmentAfricaCities and Urbanization
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Air pollution is making it harder for pollinators to find food - here's why it matters

Paige Bennett

February 19, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum