China has one of the worst records in the world when it comes to pollution, they still mine and burn coal (one of the most polluting fossil fuels) in unthinkable volumes, but that does not mean that they intend to carry on with such a polluting strategy.
Firstly they have signed up to the Paris agreement which is a very positive step and now they are planning to build their first Forest City. What do you mean by a forest city I hear you say?
The plan is to build a small city that houses 30,000 people, but the city will have 1 million plants and 40,000 trees. So that is more than 1 tree per person and 33 plants per person. The idea is to create an environment that is as far away from the smog issues that China’s largest cities currently suffer from.
The plan is the brainchild of Italian architect Stefano Boeri and this is what he said about the project:
“The diffusion of plants, not only in the parks and gardens or along the streets, but also over building facades, will allow the energy self-sufficient city to contribute to improve the air quality (absorbing both CO2 and fine dust of 57 tons per year), to decrease the average air temperature, to create noise barriers and to improve the biodiversity of living species, generating the habitat for birds, insects and small animals that inhabit the Liuzhou territory.”
So the vision is to have plants and trees on every aspect of building and in every green area – with such volumes of plants the city could potentially be able to exist in a carbon neutral state. So that any pollution that is created is offset by the carbon dioxide that is being absorbed by trees.
For me this project is really interesting because it is trying to break down barriers in the way that cities are planned and designed. As long as the city works practically with all of the plants and trees then there is no reason why other cities should not be planned and built in the same manner.
I think that this raises many questions for cities that have problems with air pollution. It is one thing to design a city or a new district of a city, but how can existing cities utilise this design format to make them more sustainable and healthier places for their citizens.
Imagine taking the centre of cities that have been in place for hundreds or thousands of years and covering them in plants, so that there would be 33 plants for each citizen in all cities. It could really be a game changer for cities of the future.