Bosco Verticale – a high rise forest in the city (part 1)


My (short term rental) apartment in Milano was in the Porto Nuova district, a central city urban redevelopment area replacing Pirelli and other industrial factories. The redevelopment had been sputtering along since the 1950’s (hello, NCC) but picked up steam in 2009.

A key showpiece of the urban redevelopment are the Bosco Verticale towers (bosco, woodlot or treed parkland; verticale, vertical) which graphed two hectares of woodlot onto the sides of  18 and 26 storey high rise condo towers.


The taller building is 110m (360 ft); the shorter 76m (249 ft). These are similar size buildings to the ones presently built along the OTrain Trillium Line in not-so-Little Italy near Carling Avenue. Newer buildings under construction along Carling are twice that tall, eg Claridge Icon.

The buildings have 2 trees, 8 shrubs, and 40 smaller plants per unit. Plants are in 1.3m (4.2ft) deep planters. IMG_5136

The presence of the trees and a lot of draping and cascading vines gives the building a fuzzy edge. IMG_4990

The white balconies on the black exterior created a architectural pattern in the harsh modern idiom, but I thought that white cladding would have improved the look, and perhaps reflected more light for better plant growth. The balconies are mostly offset, and there is often two floors between balconies, leaving room for larger plants without darkening the interiors.


Apartment condos here cost from e3000 per sq m, which translates roughly to $457 per sq foot, which is less than Ottawa condos. Another source told me apartments sold for Cdn$1400 per sq foot in the bottom half of the towers,  although I cannot determine if the space includes the balconies (which are extensive) and what an average selling price was (top price was e12,000 / m2). You and I, however, can rent a furnished two bedroom unit for short term stays for just Cdn$500 per night.

My apartment was nearby, and cheaper. But I wanted to see the tower, not be in it.


The Bosco Verticale set off an entire “me too” craze in surrounding buildings, with residents totally stuffing trees onto balconies of “normal” apartment towers. The weight of the trees isn’t that significant, however, as the Bosco floors are 12″ concrete, basically the same as buildings here and presumably, same as Italy. The Bosco planters are 1.3m deep, which means others have to have pretty big planting pots, and be prepared to do lots of watering.


Next article will take a closer look at those balconies.

3 thoughts on “Bosco Verticale – a high rise forest in the city (part 1)

  1. Gosh, if you did not actually stay in the vicinity and take the photos, I would have said this is a clever photoshop mock-up for selling units in the prject. It looks so unfamiliar to see all these trees and shrubs.
    Now back to little Italy, We have ice and snow to deal with, would simliar one-meter planters survive here?


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