One of our favourite places in Milan, when planning a guided walking tour for our clients, is the business district of Porta Nuova, and the reason for that is its perfect blend of daring architecture and nature, a living proof of how Milan is growing green.

Library of Trees - the project
Library of Trees – the project

Built during the last decade, Porta Nuova skyscrapers have transformed an abandoned area in a hip district bustling with life, with a keen eye on the importance of nature even in the middle of a big city. In the heart of the district, a “Library of Trees” is now being created, a 3,500 square meter green space that, when completed, will consist of 450 trees from 19 species, plus 90,000 plants including hedges, shrubs and climbers.

But this return to nature had already been anticipated by the now world-famous “Vertical Forest”: two residential tower blocks built in 2014 that are covered in 800 trees, 4,500 shrubs and 15,000 plants. If this forest was planted on the ground, it would cover 20,000 square meters – the size of three and a half football pitches.

Designed by architect Stefano Boeri, the vertical forests concept has proven so popular that similar projects have been commissioned for Lausanne in Switzerland, Utrecht in the Netherlands, and the Chinese cities of Nanjing and Liuzhou. The proposed Liuzhou Forest City is the most ambitious project yet: a new town with homes for 30,000 people, where buildings will be covered by 40,000 trees and 1 million plants. Each year the trees will absorb 10,000 tonnes of CO2 and 57 tonnes of pollutants, and produce about 900 tonnes of oxygen.

Boeri’s team of architects say the plants will also decrease the average air temperature, create noise barriers and boost biodiversity by creating a habitat for birds, insects and small animals.

The whole project is also a feast for the eyes: just walk around Porta Nuova district in early Spring, and you will be delighted by the wealth of colours and shapes and scents from the blooming trees.

With two-thirds of the world’s population predicted to be living in cities by 2050, Milan’s Vertical Forest and tree library might show the world a way to create healthier, happier urban spaces.

For a thorough experience in the area, follow our tips or contact us: we will be happy to guide you around this successful project, revealing you the many stories of the people who made it possible.