The Air Quality Index, which uses a scale from 0 to 500 (with higher numbers indicating worse pollution), rates Nanjing’s air quality as 132 — a level considered unhealthy for the public, especially those with respiratory disease.
The Italian design firm Stefano Boeri Architetti believes that building towers covered in plants could help the city reduce its pollution. The company recently announced that it will build two skyscrapers that will hold a total of 1,100 trees and 2,500 cascading shrubs on their rooftops and balconies.
“It is positive because the presence of such a large number of plants, trees and shrubs is contributing to the cleaning of the air, contributing to absorbing CO2 and producing oxygen,’ the architect said. “And what is so important is that this large presence of plants is an amazing contribution in terms of absorbing the dust produced by urban traffic.”
The architect said believed Chinese officials were finally understanding that they needed to embrace a new, more sustainable model of urban planning that involved not “huge megalopolises” but settlements of 100,000 people or fewer that were entirely constructed of “green architecture”.
“What they have done until now is simply to continue to add new peripheral environments to their cities,” he said. “They have created these nightmares – immense metropolitan environments. They have to imagine a new model of city that is not about extending and expanding but a system of small, green cities.”