Dubai’s new Vertical Forest skyscraper

Vertical Forest Dubai, Stefano Boeri Architetti

An Italian architecture firm has presented a Vertical Forest skyscraper plan for Dubai. The same firm built the two towers of Bosco Verticale in Milan. Vertical Forest Dubai, rendering by Stefano Boeri Architetti

We love the idea of green walls and vertical gardens. And they always look so amazing on architectural renderings. Green walls and plants and trees give so much comfort to people who can find a smudge of green among the concrete. Italians do city gardens well, Middle Easterners, not so much. 

Vertical forest dubai, Stefano Boeri Architetti

Vertical Forest Dubai, Stefano Boeri Architetti

Visit Sicily and you will see flourishing green roofs and micro gardens on patios. Cactuses galore but also green hanging plants and trellising gardens. Somehow all taken care of by loving plant parents and grandparents who dwell in their parts of the old family villa or small patio apartment. Find people tossing water through the day onto scorching land, quenching plant thirst.

Guinigi Tower, Lucca, Italy

Inspiration for Vertical Forests, Guinigi Tower, Lucca, Italy

The climate in Southern Italy is hot and dry. Not unlike the Middle East, and places like Sicily even look like Beirut or the West Bank if you squint hard enough. Arabian influences there hundreds of years ago have left their mark in Sicily. And maybe Stefano Boeri and associates are trying to build a bridge between the two worlds in Dubai?

But if you see Middle Eastern attempts at green roofs and patios in the Middle East today you will see hopeful but neglected attempts at greening a dream garden that doesn’t match up to the needs of the plants. Planters full of crispy plants. Withered cactuses. Dead green walls. 

Taking care of plants and vertical gardens (and forests!) require teams of people and a budget with resources that will ensure these plants are cared for decades into the future. And trees do need expand, roots systems and all.

Vertical Forest Milan

Vertical Forest, Milan

We assume if Dubai goes with the plan they will budget operations accordingly. 

The new Vertical Forest tower for Dubai, according to published material, will incorporate a desalination facility and grey water recovery system, alongside photovoltaic solar energy surfaces that will contribute clean energy to the towers. Does this mean that these towers will revert to peeponics and pooponics to recover human waste from the site? We have sent this question to Stefano Boeri Architetti and hope to have more answers soon.

Update, a day later: Maddalena Giambelli from Elettra Zadra, the press office of architect Stefano Boeri and his practice Stefano Boeri Architetti tells Green Prophet that “Dubai Vertical Forest isonly a prototype, consequently many details will be discussed.”

We asked them if the Dubai Vertical Forest would be able to recycle building waste, but it’s too early to know, she said. “We are therefore unable to answer these questions until the project is definitive and the various installations are finalised.”

Consider Burj Dubai still has to ship out their poop by truck daily and lack of sewage infrastructure still plagues the city. Mix in the idea of pee- and pooponics with space colonisation that Dubai dreams about for Mars and they are halfway to figuring out closed -oop solutions for living on different earthships around the world. 

Burj poop problem, tallest building in the world

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest building in the world and cost $130 billion to make but it is not connected to Dubai’s sewage system and so every day a platoon of trucks queue up to remove its poo

Something to think about: When Israeli environmental artist Ran Morin created Oranger Suspendu in Jaffa he was asked by dozens of firms around the world, including hotel lobbies, to recreate the idea of a hanging orange tree. He said no, because of the care needed to look after one hanging plant. That’s what he told me when I ran into him in Jerusalem one afternoon. “Do you know how hard it is to keep one tree alive? One that’s hanging in the air? It’s a responsibility.”

Oranger Suspendu, a hanging orange tree in Old City Jaffa by Ran Morin

Oranger Suspendu, a hanging orange tree in Old City Jaffa by Ran Morin

Now imagine a skyscraper full of trees? Will we care for the life of each one the way we would if the tree was planted in the ground? How much will these trees need to be pruned before their roots grow out of the box? Tree roots are as big as their foliage. Sometimes I wonder why we can’t have more modest and common sense solutions for the Middle East, ones created by people who live in the areas. Once focused on regenerative agriculture and that move away from skyscraper living. 

More about the Vertical Forest Dubai

Italian studio Stefano Boeri Architetti adapted its Vertical Forest concept for a pair of skyscrapers in Dubai, which will be covered in thousands of trees. The firm launched the idea at the COP27 climate change conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The project comprises two tapering towers at 190 and 150 metres tall.

Together, these towers will integrate 2,640 trees and 27,600 shrubs along with a system of greenhouses and hydroponic gardens. 

Hydroponic gardens are essentially what any soil-less green roof solution uses to keep plants alive. They use water-based, mineral nutrient solutions in place of soil. We suggest the new towers use the residential waste provided by the building. They do mention grey water recycling, so likely this is part of the plan.

“The project, commissioned by Impact One, represents the first Vertical Forest prototype for the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) area with the aim of integrating the benefits of urban forestry such as the absorption of fine dust particles, microclimate regulation and reduction of the greenhouse effect together with innovations as part of the management of the water system in arid climates and the optimization of energy production from renewable sources,” said Stefano Boeri Architetti..

Stefano Boeri Architetti is most known for the Vertical Forest in Milan, the Villa Méditerranée in Marseille, and the House of the Sea of La Maddalena.


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