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Living urban treehouse brings nature into urban design

by Tania Wannenburg
Living urban treehouse

A residential complex in Italy is employing a forest of trees to shield residents from the urban noise and pollution.

Reminding of a treehouse in a lush, living forest, 25 Verde, a residential complex in Turin, Italy, features a unique steel structure with a wide variety of trees and shrubs intertwining terraces across the five storeys, water ponds and lush gardens covering the roof.

Designed by architect Luciano Pia, the project aimed to create a facade for the block of urban homes that serves as a natural filter between the internal inhabited space and the surrounding streets.

Bursting with greenery
The building’s metal structures resemble tree trunks holding up the wooden planking of the terraces, where 150 trees are rooted to form the unique facade. There are 63 residential units in the building, and they are all different and fitted with wide terraces of irregular shapes that surround the trees. The last floor is covered with private green roofs.

The diverse foliage, yielding a variety of leaves, flowers and colours, is planted in big vases on the verandas, court gardens, green walls and roof gardens. In the vases there are trees or shrubs of different heights ranging from 2,5m to 8m. Together with 50 more trees in the court garden, they produce oxygen, absorb carbonic anhydride, filter air pollution and mute out noise.

Targeting energy efficiency
To achieve optimal energy efficiency, another key goal of the project, Pia opted for several integrated solutions including continuous insulation, sun protection, heating and cooling systems which make use of the geothermal energy with heat pumps, as well as a recycling system that reapplies rainwater to irrigate the plants and trees in the building.

The 7 500m² building was completed in 2012, but since it is “alive” the green facade took a while to come into its own. Still growing, the deciduous species change according to the season, filtering sunlight in summer while in winter allowing the sun in, creating a microclimate inside the building that contributes to interior comfort levels across seasons.

Continuously changing, 25 Verde’s green facade serves as a living, breathing shelter for the residents of the building, directly putting these urbanites in touch with nature.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to the architect, Luciano Pia, for the information given to write the article.

25 Verde in numbers:
Gross floor area: 7 500m²
Terraces: 4 000m²
Court garden: 1 500m²
Green roofs: 1 200m²
Vase area: 1 200m²
Water area: 150m²

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