New Toronto skyscraper to house 450 urban trees

Toronto, Canada, is a city that should be commended for giving its urban canopy the attention it deserves. It’s already home to 10 million urban trees, covering around 26% of the city. But why stop there? Mayor, John Tory, wants to grow that to 40%.

A new 27-storey residential building, designed by local architecture firm, Brisbin Brook Beynon (BBB), will make a big contribution to this goal – albeit in an unconventional way. The apartment building will be covered with around 450 trees growing on its balconies and rooves – cleaning up the surrounding air and providing a fertile environment for pollinators and humans alike.

This vertical forest takes inspiration from the Bosco Verticale residential towers built in Milan in 2014 and housing up to 11,000 plants on its sides. Since then, we’ve seen other similar buildings in cities like Nanjing and Taiwan leveraging vertical and horizontal roof space to create much-needed urban greenery.

Brian Brisbin, Principal at BBB, said bringing the vertical forest concept to Toronto aligned perfectly with the mayor’s goal of increasing tree coverage. In fact, the technology that enabled the Bosco Verticale building to come to life actually originated in Canada and North America. Brisbin said, “We have a lot of depth of specialty in this area in Toronto, with horticultural and agricultural universities and research facilities and we’ve brought a lot of this together to take a very science-based approach to developing this project.”

A specialized system will monitor and irrigate all 450 trees, which will be planted in their own portable woven stainless steel planters. The integrated system will connect with all of the planters to track key metrics such as the amount of water, nutrient density and external conditions like wind strength.

While covering buildings in trees will not be enough to achieve Toronto’s urban canopy goals alone, projects like this certainly deliver clear benefits like cleaner air and more space for birds and pollinator species to work their magic.


Urban trees gain second life as sustainable furniture

The benefits of urban trees are well established – from improving mental health, increasing property values, storing carbon, and absorbing rainfall. But, what happens to them when they eventually succumb to disease, urban development, weather, or old age? Traditionally, they are ground up and sent to the tip.

In New Jersey, brothers Ted and Zeb Esselstyn, are giving urban trees a second life – creating furniture and wall art from felled urban trees and selling them via their business, City Bench. “Urban wood is a seriously un-utilized resource in our country’s metropolitan areas,” says Zeb. “The city of New Haven probably takes down around 700 trees a year. We don’t have the capacity to take them all, but we do salvage and mill a lot of them.”

Sawmills generally decline to reuse urban trees for lumber, due to their wear and tear. Ted says, “We hit metal on a majority of the trees we mill, from bullets to electric cables to nails. We revel in it. The beat-up quality is what gives the wood character.”

Touchingly, their main business comes from individuals who have lost beloved trees on their property. Ted says, “We’ve had clients weeping in front of us about the loss. We soften the blow by letting the trees continue to live.”


Load More...

“Great customer service, quick response times and a very in depth QA system with constant support.”

- Laura Wiesenekker, Project Engineer, Densford Civil -

“Citygreen is a very professional  business, and I found everything was great in terms of deliveries, product supply and information. It was all forthcoming and helped us to complete the project.”

- Keith Burns, Architect/Designer, Keith Burns Architect -

“Citygreen offered training and invaluable technical assistance during the works.”

- James Callan, Estimating Manager, Complex Co Pty Ltd -

“Our experience, in working with a Citygreen Design Studio was second to none. We found responses from the design studio to be very timely, and technically thorough. We went backwards and forwards a number of times, looking at different iterations of the design and, nothing was too much trouble to examine and explore different possibilities. I would highly recommend the Citygreen Design Studio to any future client considering using your services.”

- Sandra Smith, Principal Landscape Architect, City Of Monash -

“We are big on compliance on all projects, and the fact that their SmartCertify cloud platform covers all bases, and supports their 20 year warranties, is critical – especially that these pits are being installed under roadways and footpaths.”

- Johny Purkaystha, Civil Program Engineer, Central Coast Council -

"I reviewed all the previous projects that we have installed in the past couple years using your product and I can happily report back that we have 0% mortality in the soil cells, which is incredible!"

- Brendan Wilton, CEO, Trim Landscaping, Bedford, Canada -