multicolored trees at autumn avenue in the park Serghei StarusSerghei Starus

This innovative design being developed for Toronto champions the World Green Building Council's aggressive initiatives to decrease carbon emissions by 80% in 2050. And, in a super technology enabled way.

Near the exclusive shopping district of Yorkville, only blocks from the hustle of midtown Toronto, is where an architect envisions the first “vertical forest in Canada,” a terraced glass tower covered in 400 four- to five-metre trees.

But the intent isn’t to design a building that just looks striking.

It will create “a sustainable microclimate on its own,” said Brian Brisbin, principal of Toronto’s Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects.

Brisbin recently spoke at a seminar during the Grey to Green Conference, a three-day event on green infrastructure in Toronto. He sees his design as being on the vanguard of a new way of thinking about building design.

The architect said the project, which has been filed for zoning approval, takes its cues from Bosco Verticale, meaning vertical forest, a two-highrise development in Milan, Italy featuring a facade of trees. The Italian development caught global attention in the design community when it rose a few years ago.

But unlike Bosco Verticale, which has trees in planters on concrete slabs, Brisbin’s design features a series of “extended terraces” that are “fully integrated, post-tensioned concrete structures and host to a forest. They (the trees) add texture, they reduce noise pollution,” he said.

“Every single plant will be put into a Revit program for its species, location, hydration, sun orientation and wind tunnel effect. This will be the most sophisticated system ever developed for vertical vegetation.”

He said the trees will be acclimatized in a container developed with their new home in mind.

The proposal calls for all of the building’s balconies to be offset to improve sightlines from one part of the building to another, allowing residents to recognize their neighbours. The intent is to give the building a sense of community, he said.

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