Eco-architecture: from Milan’s Bosco Verticale to Taipei’s Eco Ark


Urban centres around the globe suffer from similar ills – population densities which result in tremendous amounts of consumer waste and, consequently, environmental pollution.

Architects, urban planners and designers have been attempting to solve these problems implementing ground-breaking concepts that are imaginative, sustainable and futuristic.

Two such projects are Milan’s under-construction, multi-story  residential buildings: “Bosco Verticale” (Vertical Forest) and Taipei’s Eco Ark: a 2010 exhibition hall made of 1.5 million Polli-Bricks (interlocking bricks made from recycled plastic bottles).

Bosco Verticale

Designed by Milan architect & urban planner Stefano Boeri, the two residential towers of  Bosco Verticale integrates densely forested balconies to create a microclimate that produces humidity and oxygen, decreases dust for the inhabitants, provides a barrier from acoustic pollution and is more energy efficient than traditional towers.

The grey waters produced by the buildings will provide the source of most of the irrigation and an outside gardening agency will handle the maintenance of the plantings.

The buildings are currently under construction and are slated to be completed by the end of 2012.

Milan is one of Europe’s most polluted cities, so the concept of creating more green space is a solid one, but personally, I have to wonder about how “green” new builds of concrete are…which leads us to….

Eco Ark

The problem of creating structures with more environmentally viable materials is one that Taiwanese architect/sustainable-design rockstar Arthur Huang and his firm MiniWiz relish.  One of Taiwan’s greatest manufacturing industries, plastics, is also the source of one of its greatest polluters: 90,000 tons of plastic containers are collected in Taiwan each year for recycling.  The Taiwanese government is looking for inventive solutions to the growing problem of plastic waste…

In 2010 MiniWiz was commissioned to create Eco Ark in Taipei, the main exhibition hall for the  Taipei International Flora Exposition. They created a nine-story tall pavilion made up of 1.5 million Polli-Bricks, interlocking bricks made entirely from recycled PET bottles, which saved 300 tons of plastic from ending up in landfills. The transparent nature of the Polli-Bricks allowed the pavilion to be naturally lit, whilst the air pockets in the help insulate the structure. Like a giant LEGO building, the use of POLLI-Bricks allowed the structure to be disassembled and assembled elsewhere, making it a building that truly embraces the 3R’s concept by being of recycled materials which reduces the amount of waste in landfills, and is reusable. In addition to its 3R concept, Polli-Brick’s low weight and strong bond of the units made EcoARK both earthquake- and hurricane-resistant.

With the successful creation of Eco Ark, and its creation of building materials created by up cycling post-consumer trash and agricultural waste, MiniWiz is considered one of the global leaders in sustainable design.

Both Bosco Verticale & Eco Ark are admirable examples of the use of imaginative thinking to address the issues facing our growing global population.