A unique urban vertical forest is set to livening the Dutch city of Utrecht. Two towers blocks called Wonderwoods will not only ensure a total of new 400 homes in the middle of the built-up country, they will also accommodate 360 trees on the exterior of the construction. Together with a further 9,640 shrubs and flowering plants, the urban structure is set to encourage around 30 different species of fauna to find a home in the city, among them birds, bees and butterflies. The new type of vertical-forest building is not only designed with urban biodiversity in mind, it is also about building a mindset, say the developers.
Architect Stefano Boeri Architetti, already known for his pioneering Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) in Milan and co designer MVSA Architects intend to create a prototype building for a new format of architectural biodiversity. They say that the new way of building will focus not only on human beings, but also on the relationship between humans and other living species.
"Many city developers have been pursuing the policy of a compact, dense development, to help absorb the pressure on the housing market," Wonderwoods landscape architect Timo Cents told Breaking Perspectives. He continued: "The disadvantage of this strategy is that residents are living increasingly distant from nature."
As city dwellers, we have lost our connection with the seasons, he told us, and added: "We don’t notice whether it’s hot or cold outside, and we sit indoors when it rains. Greenery is a far-away concept in this stony environment."
The Wonderwoods towers are set to create a healthy and happy way of living for its residents. They will help improve local air quality; dampen city sounds, offer shade in the summer heat; and protection against the elements in the winter.
"We took the Utrechtse Heuvelrug as an example, and we have opted for the types of greenery that have evolutionised for difficult conditions at higher levels. Think of the rowan, oak, gorse or pine," said Cents, adding that abseiling gardeners are set to take care of the greenery.
“As city dwellers, we have lost our connection with the seasons...We don’t notice whether it’s hot or cold outside, and we sit indoors when it rains"
The two towers, which have started being built in 2020, will be on the doorstep of Utrecht Central Station, the large public transport hub in the Netherlands.
The project is considered a step forward in the way that humans live together, and how they build their homes, and Cents said: "I see these green high-rises as a type of high, mountainous area. I imagine just as birds will look at it and see a nutrient-rich rocky landscape. The natural tree line is at 2,000 meters, so why should we limit ourselves to ground level when building such an environment?"
He concluded: "What Wonderwoods shows us, is that things can be done differently; the way we build cities and live together. I hope that Wonderwoods will lead us from a green island in a stony city, to a city full of greenery and nature; where living, working and moving are all arranged together, sustainably.”
“What Wonderwoods shows us, is that things can be done differently; the way we build cities and live together"