"Use trees not barriers to keep public spaces safe"

A leading Italian architect and urban planner has proposed that European cities use trees with bulky planters rather than concrete barriers to prevent terrorists in vehicles targeting pedestrians.

Image: Richard Smith (CC BY 2.0)
Image: Richard Smith (CC BY 2.0)

Writing on his Facebook page, professor of urban planning at the Polytechnic University of Milan Stefano Boeri said: "It's well known that a tree - unlike a concrete barrier - not only protects us, but it makes us shade, absorbs urban air pollution, hosts insects and birds. In a word, it welcomes and protects the life that terrorists want to annihilate."

He added: "With a small investment, carefully distributing the plants in the most vital and open spaces of our cities, we can temporarily transform our dearest places into clearings and forests.

"Placed at the entrances of every square or urban public space, vessels of different size (the standard may be cylindrical, 1m high and 3m in diameter) will be filled with the earth needed to accommodate the roots, the stem and the branches of a large tree so as to protect the passage of pedestrians and minimise the risk of mass murder."

Boeri is a long-standing advocate of trees in cities, and is perhaps best-known for co-designing the Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), a pair of residential tower blocks in Milan that are home to over 900 trees. 

Mayor of the southern city of Bari and president of the National Association of Italian Municipalities Antonio Decaro told the newspaper La Repubblica: "Green in cities is always good. It is our responsibility to do all we can to ensure the safety of citizens, and we will do our best to do so. I just want the beauty of our cities not to be attacked by concrete blocks."

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