Egypt: The "Future" Home of Africa's First Vertical Forest
By: Pamela Dimitrova/Arab America Contributing Writer
The recent Amazon Rainforest crisis has alarmed the world as it produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen. Ironically, Egypt has been one of the few countries that struggle with serious environmental issues–last year Cairo ranked as the most polluted city in the world, according to a study by Eco Experts. However, Egypt is determined to change that. How? By becoming the home of Africa’s first vertical forest.
Misr Italia Properties has signed a cooperation agreement with Stefano Boeri Architetti to establish the Vertical Forest Project on a 10,000 acres land. According to Stefano Boeri Architetti’s Deputy Chairman Mohammed Khaled al-Assal, the company will offer up the first stage of the project for sale in December 2019. “The development will consist of one hotel building and two residential buildings containing 300 units,” said al-Assal.
Of the three blocks, two will be apartments while the third will be a hotel – all of which will be energy self-sufficient. Each apartment will have its own balcony with a range of plant species suited to the local climate, planted at various heights and to bloom at different times to provide a lush appearance year-round.
Plants at every level will provide natural shading and improve the surrounding air quality; this will be achieved by absorbing an estimated seven tons of carbon dioxide and producing eight tons of oxygen per year. The development, planned for a central part of the new capital, will also feature shops and restaurants.
Boeri is an architect on a mission. A manifesto published on his firm’s website commits to “a global campaign on urban forestry” that spans city farms, roof gardens, green facades and other forms of public greenery. According to the firm’s website, the vertical forest scheme is a “project for the environmental survival of contemporary cities” designed to promote the “coexistence of architecture and nature in urban areas”. They seek to regenerate urban environments without expanding the city’s sprawling footprint. Each tower of trees aims to provide its human residents with an average of two trees, eight shrubs and 40 bushes each.
In a 2018 interview, Boeri Architetti told CNN Style:
“The ability to enlarge green surfaces inside and around our city is one of the most efficient ways to try to reverse climate change,” he said. “So, a vertical forest is one of the possible ways to enlarge biological surfaces, in the horizontal and the vertical. (The solution is) not only gardens. Why not also the side of the building?”
“Egypt is witnessing a flourishing moment in terms of new planning and real estate development. This is the moment to be present. Proud to be part of a process that will give Egypt “an innovative face in architecture and design, we couldn’t think of a better start than introducing environmentally sustainable architecture solutions.”
The scheme is part of the “ecological conversion of Cairo” which also features plans for thousands of green flat roofs and a system of “green corridors” in the city.
Egyptian designer Shimaa Shalash added that as a resident of the city she’d like to see green solutions for facades and rooftops, as well as more promenades and artisan boutiques along the Nile — to “give the city back its former elegance” for which it was famed around the world.
In a statement issued by his firm, Boeri stated that Cairo “can become the first Northern-African metropolis to face the big challenge of climate change and of the ecological reconversion.”
His firm is ambitious, with plans to erect vertical forests in a host of cities spanning between Mexico and Indonesia.
In the Chinese city of Liuzhou, Guangxi province, he has masterminded an entire “Forest City,” scheduled for completion in 2020, which comprises tree-covered houses, hospitals, schools and office blocks over a sprawling 15-million-square-foot site.
Next will be Egypt!