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Interview with Stefano Boeri – the “Archistar” who loves Sardinia

Freshly inaugurated, it’s already considered the finest, most innovative skyscraper in the world. We’re talking about the “Vertical Forest”, designed by architect Stefano Boeri, in the Porta Nuova-Isola district of Milan, a residential building made up of two tower blocks, able to host 21,000 plants, including 800 high-trunk trees. On 19 November in Frankfurt  it received the International Highrise Award 2014, the so-called “Oscar of Architecture”, awarded every two years to the best urban architecture at least a hundred metres high.

 

Can you tell us how the Vertical Forest project came into being?

“The project was born from observing an incredible number of glass skyscrapers and thinking about the possibility of creating buildings with a living skin. A tower covered with trees can provide advantages both for the protection of the environment and for the safeguard of biodiversity”.

What’s your model for the city of the future?

“A city that stops developing outwards. The city should grow within itself, by substituting obsolete buildings, by creating buildings that develop upwards with the inclusion of natural features, just as we have done with the Vertical Forest”.

How important can an Expo be for a city?

“The Expo can count enormously because it’s a time of great visibility. It’s a kind of ‘turbo’ that can give a great impulse by concentrating the policies of an entire territory on a deadline and an objective”.

As an advocate of biodiversity and integration between architecture and the environment, what do you see as the next challenge for Sardinia?

“Sardinia is in my heart. The challenge for the future of this island is to maintain forms of tourism linked to true quality in the environment. For this reason the Forte Village model of tourism is more interesting than that of certain areas of Gallura and the Costa Smeralda”.

From the sea to the lowlands: what are your professional experiences in Russia?

“I’m a member of the scientific committee for Skolkovo, city of science, west of Moscow, which came into being after the meeting between Steve Jobs and Vladimir Putin, a kind of new Silicon Valley. I’m also involved in the design of the stations of the underground line between the airports and the capital”.

What do you think of the nickname “Archistar”?

“Actually I prefer ‘Archistreet’. I’m very jealous of my visions, but I’m also attentive to practical life. Let’s say I try to keep my feet firmly on the ground.”

19 November marks a very meaningful date for you: what has been the biggest cause of pride?

“I’m pleased because this award represents a recognition for innovation, an invitation to think of architecture as an anticipation of the future for each of us, not just as a declaration of style and language.

The award isn’t just for me, it’s for a collective work carried out in my studio over the years together with botanists, engineers, researchers into plants and biodiversity and with the local associations. For me it’s a very beautiful, important signal, I’m happy for Milan and Expo and thank those who have promoted and supported our project”.