“Living nature… is not an ornament, and it’s not a decoration. It’s a basic complement of the façade of the building.” - Stefano Boeri.


During our part-virtual, part-real life adventure, 24 Hours in Milan, Tom spoke to Stefano Boeri, leading Milanese architect and urban planner.


They discuss the city of Milan, and its history of being the design capital of the world since the beginning of the 20th century; not just in terms of the art scene, but also in the fashion and architectural realms.


“There’s something about Milan – which isn’t a huge city – which allows creativity to flourish” (Tom Dixon).


"[Milan] is not a metropolis in terms of extension... [but] it is super intense." (Stefano Boeri).


Stefano Boeri portrait 


Stefano also speaks to Tom about his first encounter with the design world through his mother, Cini Boeri. Cini was one of the first women to embrace the world of architecture and design and was one of the most important female figures of post-World War II Italian design culture. 


“[Cini] was changing the perception of women and what they can do. Architecture wasn’t open to women when she started.”


“She decided to go ahead and construct a professional career in such a brilliant way, never ever giving up…” 


Stefano also discusses launching the Bosco Vertical (Vertical Forest) project. Amidst growing concerns surrounding cities' immense contribution towards climate change, Stefano proposes a unique urban design to combat the problem. Towers are covered in vegetation to counter the effects of deforestation and to improve urban air quality.  Underlying this project is the relationship between architecture and trees, and nature and cities – which Stefano believes to be in “an alliance”.


In this way, the Vertical Forest is based upon architecture using leaves for its facades, which gives vegetation the task of absorbing the dust in the air. In this way, these schemes provide high-density buildings, packed heavily with greenery, as a way to depollute the surrounding environment. This project is now constantly referred to as an exemplar of the way sustainability in cities work. Read more here.


Bosco Vertical (Vertical Forest)

Bosco Vertical (Vertical Forest)

Bosco Vertical (Vertical Forest)



The concept of Urban Forestry lies at the heart of the Vertical Forest. This rests upon the idea that although cities are largely responsibly for climate change problems, there is also an opportunity for them to become an integral part of their own solution. Stefano believes that we must "refine the relationship with nature", so that cities and vegetation are "in parallel.”


 “We need to demineralise our cities, to open our city to the lives of trees and plants, and also to the lives of other living species”


He explains that we all, therefore, have a collective duty to multiply the presence of forests and trees in our cities and to care for our foliage so that it can flourish.


“At the same time, I believe that we have to return to take care of forests and woodlands because they need us in terms of care. “



“I hope it will become similar to an attitude to change our lifestyle and to imagine our future cities from a different perspective.”


Read more here.


Watch the full conversation below.