Most cities were towns or villages at some stage, and just kept growing. In modern times, it seems very little thought was given to the environment. The industrial revolution for example depended almost entirely on coal as a fuel source, from domestic hearths to coal powered stream engines for industry and transport. At that time, black smoke emissions were up to 50 times higher than today. In 1952, during the great London smog, policy makers only took action after 4,000 people died in one week. Although we don’t necessarily see the pollution in the air these days, fossil fuels are still a major problem.
Scientists have been working on finding solutions that are more efficient and sustainable but not many of their possible solutions have been put to the test. Meanwhile, architect Stefano Boeri, a man with a vision, went back to nature and designed and built the first Vertical Forest building in Milan with trees and plants absorbing carbon monoxide and releasing breathable oxygen. The building celebrated its 5th anniversary in October and the company has other similar projects in the pipeline in cities all over the world.
Following the success of the Milan Vertical Forest building, Stefano Boeri Architetti has even bigger plans for a “nature-infused smart city,” which they hope will provide an example for future sustainable city designs.
The firm is bidding for a 557-hectare site in Cancun, Mexico, with property developer Grupo Karim. However, there is competition from another developer to create a shopping district on the site. Should the “Smart Forest City” be picked, it will become home for up to 130,000 humans and around 7,500,000 plants.
A press release said: “Thanks to the new public parks and private gardens, thanks to the green roofs and to the green facades, the areas actually occupied will be given back by nature through a perfect balance between the amount of green areas and building footprint,”
Should they get the go-ahead, the city will be surrounded by a ring of solar panels, which German company Transsolar has offered to work on, and an agricultural field wrapped around the center of the city with a channel of water for keeping crops watered, making the city self- sufficient for energy and food.
“In particular, water is a key element in the project: it is gathered at the entrance of the City in a huge basin, where there is also a desalination tower, and it is distributed by a system of navigable canals in the whole settlement up to the agricultural fields belt that surrounds the urban area. A series of water gardens are designed to fight floods as a model for resilient landscapes,” the press release said.
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