Italian architecture firm Stefano Boeri is expanding its vertical forest concept into an entire urban center with the new Smart Forest City in Mexico. Located just outside of Cancun, this sprawling environment is thoughtfully designed so that nature sits in perfect harmony between green areas and built architecture. Smart Forest City will sit on 1,376 acres of land that had previously been designated for a shopping center. Now, 130,000 inhabitants will be able to enjoy living in the revolutionary, sustainable city that Boeri has envisioned.
The core of Smart Forest City is in the greenery. Nearly 1,000 acres have been dedicated to green space, which will be populated with 7.5 million plants—including 2.3 trees per resident. The 400 species to be planted have been carefully vetted by botanist and landscape architect Laura Gatti, ensuring for a thoughtful mix of plant life. These trees, shrubs, bushes, and flowers will not only populate public parks and private gardens but work as part of the green roofs and facades that will make the city energy efficient. In fact, Boeri’s team estimates that Smart Forest City will absorb 116,000 tons of carbon dioxide with 5,800 tons of CO2 stocked per year.
The hope is that the city will become a hub of learning for researchers investigating environmental issues and new technology, attracting top students from Mexico and beyond. To that end, the city includes an advanced research center with facilities focused on six core issues: bio-healthcare, astrophysics and planetary science, coral reef restoration, precision farming and regenerative technology, smart city, and mobility and robotics.
Smart Forest City has also been designed to be completely food and energy self-sufficient thanks to a collaboration with Transsolar, a German company known for innovating in the built environment. The city will be surrounded by a ring of solar panels, as well as agricultural fields that will be irrigated via an underground pipe connected to a water channel. In fact, water is a key element of the city.
A large basin at the city’s entrance will gather water, which is then distributed through navigable channels. There are also a series of water gardens incorporated into the landscape that will help cut down on flooding. To add to the innovation, a cutting-edge mobility system has been designed. This allows residents to leave their cars at the edge of the city and move about the urban environment using only internal electric and semi-automatic modes of transport.
As the project moves forward, Boeri is one step closer to seeing his vision of a green, sustainable urban environment come to life. “Smart Forest City Cancun is a Botanical Garden, within a contemporary city, based on Mayan heritage and in its relationship with the natural and sacred world,” says the firm. “An urban ecosystem where nature and city are intertwined and act as one organism.”
Boeri presented his project to the regional authorities in March 2019 and is currently awaiting approval.