Fabio Pariante 01/05/2021

“If the virus has closed us in hospitals and homes, the vaccine will finally bring us back into contact with social life and with the nature that surrounds us”. Says Stefano Boeri (b. Milan, 1956), Italian architect, urban planner and architectural theorist, in raising awareness for the national communication campaign for the anti-COVID-19 vaccine in Italy.

Based in Milan, but also in Shanghai and Tirana, Stefano Boeri Architetti Studio is active all over the world with numerous projects whose prerogative associates architecture with nature: a requirement that seems to become a new reality, especially in densely-packed cities. A reality that inevitably, due to the pandemic, involves a further change: a necessary adaptation of life into society. Among the projects contributing to a type of sustainable architecture (some are still under construction), are the Vertical Forest and the Smart Forest City in Cancun, Mexico. 

Boeri has served as the director of the Milan Triennale since 2018. He has exhibited works at the Venice Biennale, the Chengdu Biennale, Beijing Design Week, the Milan International Furniture Fair, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and at the Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin. He’s carried out redevelopment projects in the ports of Napoli, Marseille, Genoa and urban redevelopment interventions in Rome, São Paulo, Venice, Moscow and Qingdao, to name a few. More recently, Boeri defeated COVID-19, himself.

Boeri tells FRONTRUNNER about his most important projects and his post-pandemic vision between architecture and a modus vivendi.

Stefano Boeri Architetti
Vertical Forest: Nanjing
Artist’s rendering
Photo credit: Stefano Boeri Architetti (Milano/Shanghai/Tirana)


Today, more than ever, urban planning is synonymous with sustainability: cities increasingly immersed in architecture with biodiversity. One of your first projects was the Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) project carried out in the Porta Nuova district of Milan. How was that carried out?

The idea of building a tower completely surrounded by trees was conceived in early 2007 in Dubai – one of the cradles of new oil and financial capitalism. I was a director of Domus, the frenetic construction of a city in the desert made up of dozens of new towers and skyscrapers, all clad in glass, ceramic and metal. All reflect sunlight and, therefore, heat generators: in the air and especially on urban public land. During those months, I started a project for two tall towers in the center of Milan and suddenly – the most radical and bizarre ideas come without warning – it occurred to me to build two biological towers. Two towers covered not with glass, but with leaves. Plants, shrubs, but especially tree leaves. Two towers lined with life. 

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