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Environment / Climate change

In pictures: Someone's built a giant urban treehouse in Turin

The design and architecture worlds are rife with schemes to make our grey, lifeless cities greener. Vertical farms. Plans to plant light-blocking “green umbrellas” over hot Australian cities. High Line-esque parks

But now, an Italian city has topped all these wishy-washy ideas with a giant, out-and-out tree house. Created by architect Luciana Pia, Turin’s  25 Verde is made up of 68 residential units, and is supported by metal “tree” structures, complete with branches and trunks.

Around 150 potted trees have also been planted into the building’s structure. The idea is that the trees form a kind of second facade around the building, both blocking out noise from the road and forming a mini-ecosystem around the building itself.

In winter, the trees will lose their leaves, and let in more light; while in summer they’ll keep the building cool by blocking the sun, and through plants’ natural cooling processes (evapotranspiration, for any science nerds out there). The designer also claims the plants suck up 200,000 litres of CO2 an hour.

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The structure was completed in 2012, and according to the New York Timestwo thirds of the units were sold before the building was completed.

Here’s another view of the structure:

And another:

Okay, here’s some more because it looks really cool:

While we can’t deny that we now desperately want to live there, it’s hard to know how much of 25 Verde’s design is gimmickry, and how much was inspired solely by a desire for sustainability. For now, though, we’re mostly wondering what happens when the trees’ roots outgrow those small-looking pots. 

All images: Beppe Giardino.
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