China Breaks Ground On Ambitious And Self-Sustaining "Forest City"


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

Concept art of the Forest City. Stefano Boeri Architetti

China is all about ambitious projects: building brand-new military bases in the middle of the sea in the blink of an eye and converting Chernobyl into a giant solar farm are just two examples of this.

Now it seems they have broken ground on the construction of perhaps their most audacious endeavor yet – a forest city that aims to be sustainable and air pollution-free.


Back in February, an Italian architectural agency named Stefano Boeri Architetti (SBA) announced that they had plans to build two towers smothered in verdant plant-based glory in the Chinese city of Nanjing.

Based off an earlier version in Milan, this habitable “vertical forest” was designed to break up smog, absorb carbon dioxide, and pump out delicious oxygen – ultimately helping clean up the rather grim skies of this sizable metropolis.

Stefano Boeri Architetti

Now, SBA is back and they have gone all-out. In an email to IFLScience, they explained they have just started construction work on the Liuzhou Forest City, which has been commissioned by the regional Chinese government.

Ominously dubbed the “Master Plan”, it will “have all the characteristics of a fully energy self-sufficient urban establishment: geothermic energy for interior air-condition and solar panels over the roofs to get renewable energy,” they explain.


Containing all the modern amenities of a major city, it will be covered by 1 million plants (from 100 different species) and 40,000 trees. They claim that it will be able to absorb roughly 10,000 tonnes (11,020 tons) of carbon dioxide and masses of polluting aerosols per year.

Stefano Boeri Architetti

It will host over 30,000 people – essentially a small contemporary town’s worth – and is set to be completed by 2020. If the concept art is anything to go by, a vast majority of the city will be green space – a sea of green juxtaposed only by the blue waters along its shoreline.

Apart from the aforementioned geothermal energy, solar power will be a key component of the city. It aims to be a biodiverse paradise where humans and nature coexist in a modern setting.

“The new green city, entirely wired, will be connected to Liuzhou through a fast rail line used by electric cars and will host various residential areas, commercial and recreational spaces, two schools and a hospital,” SBA explain in a press release.

Stefano Boeri Architetti

So how viable is this project? Few would complain at having a lot more greenery in a rapidly industrializing Chinese state, and trees are a rather effective carbon sink (particularly as they age). As nothing like this has ever been attempted before, it’ll be intriguing to see how it turns out.


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  • China,

  • construction,

  • clean energy,

  • master plan,

  • 2020,

  • vertical forest,

  • forest city,

  • concept art,

  • broken ground