Three architectural projects that help cities to breathe

© Jeremy Julian

Air pollution is a major environmental issue, especially in cities. At global level, over 80% of urban residents are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits. Numerous initiatives have been launched to rise to this challenge by reintroducing plant life into city centres, in the form of green promenades, plant-covered roofs, vertical forests… How can the buildings that make up our cities help us them to breathe better?

A close-up on three innovative architectural projects that pursue this goal. 


The world’s first Forest City in China 

The world’s first Forest City is being built in Liuzhou, in the mountainous Guangxi province in southern China. Designed by the architect Stefano Boeri, this green city of 30,000 inhabitants will be home to 40,000 trees and one million plants, not only in public spaces, but also on the façades and roofs of its buildings. The city, which uses solar and geothermal power to be energy self-sufficient, will absorb almost 10,000 tonnes of CO2 and 57 tonnes of fine particles, while also producing 900 tonnes of oxygen. 


An urban curtain that captures CO2

Developed by a consortium headed by the London-based firm ecoLogicStudio, Photo.Synth.Etica is a bioplastic curtain containing micro-algae that can be installed on new or existing buildings. Photo.Synth.Etica, which is made up of different modules that each act like a photo-bioreactor, was deployed on the occasion of the 2018 Climate Innovation Week in Dublin. According to its designers, the curtain can absorb up to 1kg of CO2 per day, or a quantity equivalent to 20 trees. 


A garden tower in the city centre 

The Agora Tower in Taipei was designed by the Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut. The helical shape of the tower offers extensive terraces that have become home to the 23,000 trees planted on the tower’s 20 floors. It is estimated that the building can absorb 130 tonnes of CO2 per year. This eco-designed project also features a photovoltaic pergola and a rainwater collection system. 


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