At first glance it looked too fantastical to be real, but now the completion date for the world’s first vertical forest is drawing near. Located in Milan, Bosco Verticale is Boeri Studio’s answer to the question of how to make cities greener while supporting an ever denser urban population. Since Inhabitat first reported on the project in 2011, it has captured the imagination of many across the globe, all eager to see how the benefits of downtown city living can be enhanced within a vertical forest environment. Inhabitat spoke to Boeri Studio this January for an update and some photos of the building’s progress. Keep reading to get the latest.

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New photographs start to show the appearance of the finished residential tower blocks now that most of the scaffolding has been dismantled. Most of the 100 different species of trees and shrubs are in place, surrounding the external cladding. You can begin to imagine relaxing high up above the city amongst the dappled sunlight breaking through the leaves, breathing the fresh air, filtered by the forest microclimate, deep into your lungs. Completion is expected by late spring/early summer 2014 and an application for LEED Gold certification has been submitted.

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On flat land, each building has the capacity to hold, in amount of trees, shrubs and ground cover plants, an area equal to 10.000 sqm of forest. This includes 480 large and medium size trees, 250 small size trees, 11,000 groundcover plants and 5,000 shrubs.  Greywater recycling will water the vegetation and integrated photovoltaic panels will provide power.

In terms of population, each tower supports the equivalent population of an area of single family dwellings of nearly 50,000 sqm. The smallest apartment is 65 sqm and includes a small woodland terrace. The largest apartment is around 450 sqm with a terrace of around 80 sqm.

The architects are looking forward to the next phase when the engineers, builders, masons, lawyers and electricians finish their work and residents begin new lives within the project. Every plant has been chosen by botanists to thrive in it’s particular orientation and microclimate within the structure. Moreover, a specialized maintenance company will keep the vertical forest in good health in the years to come. Dolce Vita Homes have worked in collaboration with Coima Image to design the interior specifications of the apartments. Residenze Porta Nuova have begun marketing the apartments and you can have a peek at the brochures already.

Metropolitan reforestation could become a buzz word as future developments utilize this innovative concept to simultaneously increase biodiversity and provide inspirational city dwellings.

Photos and visualisation via Boeri Studio, Interior illustrations by Dolce Vita Homes