This Architect’s Future ‘Vegetal Cities’ Transform Urban Areas Into Natural Paradises


Urban planning isn’t the stuff viral videos are made of but it’s something all of us need to be thinking about because it’s vital to the future of our survival. We need a more sustainable way to support our cities, especially with urban environments expected to grow tremendously in upcoming years.

Meet Belgian architect Luc Schuiten; a man on a mission to make what he has coined Vegetal Cities, a combination of urban living and nature in never before seen ways. Schuiten has been working on creating new approaches to cities for over 30 years, and as a result of his efforts his designs far surpass what urban cities currently have to offer.

In a TedxNantes video (included below) Schuiten discusses his ideologies behind Vegetal Cities. He explains, “Why redesign the tree? Why redesign what was already there first?” The structure of the tree and other natural elements are already stable and reliable so why remove them when we can build cities that incorporate nature?


Schuiten suggests that we redesign our cities to be responsive with nature. Planting trees and guiding their growth in ways that help form a vegetal metropolises seems like a much more logical, beautiful and natural way to go about urban planning.

Research has found that exposure to vegetation reduces crime, violence and increases overall happiness, meaning Schuiten’s green cities would be better for planet Earth and better for you and I.

Schuiten calls his building approach “archiborescence,” or rather a combination of “architecture” and “tree.” His principles are in line with biomimicry, where designs are created using nature as inspiration.

Schuiten’s ideas are fascinating, he says: “The city of habitarbres develops in a remodeled forest environment tailored to the needs of a new lifestyle. The people are no longer consumers, but the actors of a new ecosystem that enables the management and the development of every term and ensures a long-term evolution of the city.”


Below you see what Schuiten refers to as City of the Waves, a coastal city full of skyscrapers made of water loving trees that harvest energy from the sun.


Schuiten’s imaginative drawings are quite impressive and varied. Some depict cities “woven” from strangler figs growing on tropical trees. These arboreal frameworks could be used to build enclosures with biotextiles, resembling a cocoon.

luc-schuiten-vegetal-cities-2.JPG.650x0_q70_crop-smartSchuiten has also reimagined urban cities in existence today that could be transformed into lush, green landscapes, including Shanghai, Brussels, Sao Paolo and Strasbourg.

luc-schuiten-vegetal-cities-shanghai.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smartluc-schuiten-vegetal-cities-strasbourg.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smartluc-schuiten-vegetal-cities-brussels.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smartSchuiten has even rethought public transportation to better suit the environment. He would switch out ‘metal beasts’ for light tram systems that circulate the city all day.

luc-schuiten-vegetal-cities-7.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smartluc-schuiten-vegetal-cities-5.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smartluc-schuiten-vegetal-cities-6.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smartluc-schuiten-vegetal-cities-8.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smartSchuiten’s Vegetal Cities might seem a bit ‘far fetched’ by today’s standards but they are in line with the future. Just think, there was a time when traveling through outer space was seen as impossible, yet with all things eventually science eventually unlocks a way to make the impossible possible.

There just might come a time when cities are no longer unsustainable, ugly forests of brick and concrete but instead beautifully built for and around nature.luc-schuiten-vegetal-cities-sao-paolo.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smartluc-schuiten-vegetal-cities-4.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smartPhoto Credits: Luc Schuiten, YouTube

Something has to change about the way we currently live. If you need more proof check out 23 Heartbreaking Photos Of Pollution That Will Change The Way You Live