Forest City: Future or Fictitious?

By Madi Zanardelli

Imagine walking down the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, or any heavily polluted city and breathing continuous fresh air directly from plants less than 3 feet away. Well, for the people in Liuzhou, China, this scenario is quickly becoming a reality. Back in 2016, an Italian architect, Stefano Boeri, designed a city full of skyscrapers covered top to bottom in all kinds of shrubbery. 

Located in the Guangxi Province, Liuzhou encompasses 174 hectares of land along the Liujiang River and houses around 1.5 million residents. Notorious for its atrocious air quality, China produces around 9.04 BN making them the top contributor to global CO2 emissions. Creating a “Forest City” certainly won’t solve all of their pollution problems immediately, but the innovative plans are a step in the right direction. 

On paper, the plans seem to only advance the community, but the construction, set to end in 2020, has skidded to a halt with the onset of the global pandemic.  So we’ll have to wait a while to compare the reality with the speculations. As of now, the city is projected to absorb 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide and 57 tons of pollutants per year, and produce 900 tons of oxygen a year. 

The organic layout has numerous palpable benefits, as it will absorb the CO2 and produce more oxygen, however, there are many more obscure benefits. The trees and plants in Liuzhou will act as natural ¨noise barriers¨ to reduce the noise that typically accompanies traditional urban areas. The city is also set to run on geothermal and solar energy, which will make life more sustainable in the long run. With buildings covered by nature, the local biodiversity will increase as habitats grow, ultimately helping not only the people, but also the wildlife. 

If all calculations pan out, the United States, ranked second for air pollution contributors, should seriously consider reconstructing urban areas with high CO2 emissions to incorporate aspects of China’s “Forest City”.