Italian architect Stefano Boeri has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the sixth edition of the Madrid Design Festival, currently underway.
The prestigious award was bestowed upon him to honour his significant contributions to the discipline of design, particularly in the fields of urban planning and architecture, as well as his academic and editorial work.
Boeri’s work is characterised by his interest in integrating green spaces into urban environments. He has described his approach as “vertical urbanism,” which involves building high-rise buildings that incorporate plants and trees into their design.
One of his most famous projects is the Bosco Verticale, or “Vertical Forest,” which is a pair of residential towers in Milan that are covered in trees and plants.
Completed in 2014, the towers feature a total of 800 trees, 4,500 shrubs, and 15,000 plants, which together help to absorb CO2 emissions and improve air quality in the surrounding area.
His ideas about the role of nature in architecture are especially relevant today as the world grapples with the challenges of climate change and sustainability.
His approach involves incorporating greenery into buildings, not just as decorative elements, but as functional components that provide a range of environmental benefits, such as reducing energy consumption, filtering pollution, and mitigating urban heat islands.
Celebrating a lifetime of work
The award ceremony took place at the Institución Libre de Enseñanza (ILE) and was presented to Boeri by Rafael Moneo, another prominent architect, to recognise Boeri’s prolific career.
During the ceremony, Boeri delivered a lecture titled “The brilliant environment,” in which he highlighted the relationship between architecture and living nature, stressing that natural elements are not mere decorations.
In his acceptance speech, Boeri expressed his gratitude for the award and shared his happiness, saying, “I want to share my happiness for an award that should actually be shared with all those who, over the years, have allowed me to receive it. Thank you.”
He also shared his great admiration of Moneo who played a significant role in his career. Boeri recounted how he met Moneo in Madrid in 1982 and how Moneo’s projects and theories had been a source of great attention and envy in Italy.
“I will never forget the kindness with which I was received by Rafael and his lucid analysis of the Italian architectural situation which he obviously knew very well,” he said.
The architect later held a lecture, in collaboration with the Italian Embassy, titled “Green Obsession,” in which he presented his approach to design and discussed his work on the Vertical Forest in Milan, as well as his ongoing projects aimed at implementing urban forestation strategies worldwide.
Boeri’s work has been widely recognised and celebrated across the globe, and this award serves as another testament to his lasting impact on the field of design.
Video editor • Theo Farrant