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Stefano Boeri aims to build the first ever sustainable ‘Smart Forest City’

Italian architect Stefano Boeri, famous for integrating plants and natural ecosystems within high rise buildings, has unveiled plans for an ambitious circular ‘Smart City’ in the heart of Cancun.

It may be steeped in the history of an ancient civilisation, but Mexico’s city of Cancun could soon become a modern hub for urban climate change innovation. If only the Mayans could see us now.

With half the world’s population residing within modern cities, urban areas currently account for more than 70 percent of global carbon emissions and consume over two thirds of the world’s energy. Therefore, any ambitions of carbon neutrality before 2030 are doubtful, unless we make sustainability a keystone of future living developments.

Looking to become a ‘pioneer’ for such change, Milan based architect Stefano Boeri has unveiled eye-catching blueprints for the world’s first self-sufficient smart city located on the outskirts of Cancun, Mexico.

Renowned for creating city-centre ‘vertical forests’ – high-rise towers designed to live harmoniously with vegetation – Boeri has taken the principles of his residential projects in Milan, Shanghai, Cairo, and Chicago, and is now looking to apply them to an entire metropolis covering close to 1400 acres of land.

The concept images honestly wouldn’t look out of place in a Jurassic Park movie.

The space was originally destined to become a new shopping district, but Boeri’s eco-friendly utopia is now being considered as a serious alternative by planners. Taking the term ‘Forest City’ very literally, Boeri aims to team up with botanist and fellow landscape architect Lauri Gatti to plant 7.5 million plants of 400 different species to live in harmony with the city’s 130,000 residents.

Boeri’s website states that the project will be an ‘urban ecosystem in which nature and the city intertwine and act as a single organism, leaving room for untended vegetation planted on land, used by the public.’

Not only breathtakingly serene to the eyes (and lungs), the city is also designed to be entirely self-sufficient in terms of both food production and energy. The dream.

Homes and open areas would make use of photovoltaic solar panels to power the city, while a dock and desalination tower processes sea water, ferrying it out to a network of canals, residential zones, and agricultural areas. 7.5 million plants will probably need a fair amount of watering too.

Very much a cyclists dream, this city would completely outlaw traditional vehicles, instead providing its own network of electric cars to transport residents and visitors throughout its many developments. As a general rule of thumb, Boeri has strived to make ‘every service available at suitable walking or cycling distance.’

As we touched on earlier, the city isn’t merely endeavouring to be its own isolated haven, and is striving for more widespread impact when it comes to climate change solutions. As such, the blueprint accompanies its urban developments with an innovation campus designed to house university departments and state-of-the-art research centres.

On the surface, Beori’s climate solution may seem like just another novel idea, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t be seriously considered. Having earned his chops with several revolutionary developments already, the idea of the ‘Smart City’ could help to inspire similar initative all across the globe.

In the meantime, you’ll find me with my fingers crossed, brushing up on my Spanish.


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