Stefano Boeri unveils Smart Forest City covered in 7.5 million plants for Mexico

Italian architect Stefano Boeri has unveiled plans to create a forested smart city in Cancun, Mexico, that is designed to be a “pioneer” of more eco-efficient developments.

Smart Forest City Cancun is intended to be built on a 557 hectare site near the Mexican city. According to the architect it will contain 7.5 million plants, including numerous species of trees, shrubs and bushes chosen by botanist and landscape architect Laura Gatti.

“Smart Forest City Cancun is a Botanical Garden, within a contemporary city, based on Mayan heritage and in its relationship with the natural and sacred world,” said Stefano Boeri Architetti. “An urban ecosystem where nature and city are intertwined and act as one organism.”

The project forms of part of Boeri’s Forest City concept – which will see cities made up of plant-covered skyscrapers rolled out across China’s urban areas – and the abundance of greenery is intended to depollute the surrounding environment.

Boeri’s firm hopes the project will be built in lieu of a huge shopping mall, and reforest a site that was turned into a sand quarry for hotels.

“Thanks to the new public parks and private gardens, thanks to the green roofs and to the green facades, the areas actually occupied will be given back by nature through a perfect balance between the amount of green areas and building footprint,” said the firm.

“The Smart Forest City will absorb 116, 000 tons of carbon dioxide with 5,800 tons of CO2 stocked per year.”

With concerns about climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and animal extinction rising, the firm believes the city could be a “pioneer” for more eco-efficient developments.

“Indeed the effort of the smart Forest City of Cancun could make our world a better place, reducing significantly the negative impacts on the environment, possibly being a pioneer for a new kind of human settlement, a man made city for nature and biodiversity,” said the firm.

Data in the smart city will be managed with “full respect of the privacy of the citizens” – a particularly important element after the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica scandal allegedly used data to influence voters in political campaigns. In Boeri’s scheme, however, data will be used to improve various aspects of city life.

“Big data management is used to improve the Governance of the city, hence, the life of its citizens,” said the studio.

“Sensors are distributed within the building fabric: they collect and share relevant information, which is then centrally analysed and turned into suggestions in support of everyday life,” it added. “For example, by mapping on an app the expected outdoor comfort experience within certain areas of the city.”

Preventing the spread of diseases and making the most of energy use are among other possible benefits, according to the firm.

“Energy flows are monitored, in order to suggest to the users certain energy measures,” it said. “For example, running their washing machines or dishwashers during peak generation conditions, in order to get a cheaper energy rate, while supporting the energy management of the mechanical systems.”

Boeri has teamed up with German engineering company Transsolar to design Smart Forest City Cancun to be self-sufficient in producing its own food and energy. Among the elements included to promote the circular economy are solar panels, and farmland that will be irrigated by an embedded water system.

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