China is home to some of the most polluted air in the world. Last month, the city of Beijing went on "red alert" for smog. That is not fog you see in this photo: that's a woman and boy wearing masks to protect themselves against the smog.
Understandably, people are concerned for their health. The man in this photo is wearing a gas mask, as exposure to the air pollution can leave you susceptible to some pretty nasty conditions, like asthma or chronic lung disease.
A dire situation like this can seem almost hopeless at times, but luckily not all hope is lost. In the eastern city of Nanjing, there have been plans to construct the country’s first vertical forest towers, which will work to combat greenhouse gas emissions. The project has been called “Nanjing Green Towers.”
The second of the towers will be made into a hotel. Can you imagine opening your window in the morning to see vertical trees everywhere around you? The two buildings will reportedly have more than 1,100 trees and 2,500 cascading plants.
Not to mention the hotel’s rooftop will also have a pool, but who’s counting...
The towers were designed by Italian architect Stefano Boeri, who designed his first vertical forest project in 2014 in Milan. Milan’s vertical forests have become a little ecosystem of birds and insects, and the hope is that the vertical forests in Nanjing will do the same.
Boeri’s ongoing vertical forest project is an “anti-sprawl” effort, meaning it aims to reduce urban expansion. In theory, this would limit the amount of ground space that humans are occupying and would (hopefully) leave room for more natural habitats, while simultaneously decreasing pollution.
As of right now, Boeri is planning to build vertical forests in several other Chinese cities, including Shanghai and Guizhou. He’s even planning an “urban tree lounge” in Milan and a “forest city” in Shenzhen, China that will play host to 100 thousand inhabitants.