A forest in the middle of the city

'25 Verde' in Via Chiabrera brings the forest to the city.

’25 Verde’ in Via Chiabrera brings the forest to the city.

Turin is mostly known as an industrial city with almost a million inhabitants. But a walk in the city reveals it has much more to offer. If exploring the city carefully enough, one can find a hidden gem – a treehouse built right in the city center.

Just a few minutes walk from Dante metro station, right next to the bank of river Po is a building called ’25 Verde’ (’25 Green’). This residential building, designed by architect Luciano Pia, is easy to spot, yet it fits perfectly on ’Via Chiabrera’. Almost ironically the building is located opposite to ’Centro Storico Fiat’, the Fiat museum, combining both nature and car industry on the same street.

”This is one of my favorite buildings,” Pia tells.

Built with 150 trees, and 50 more trees planted in the courtyard, 25 Verde can be called an urban treehouse. All the materials used on the building are left natural, without paint or decoration. Even the steel columns are shaped like trees. The focus is on nature.

”The building is built around the trees, not the other way around.”

With 50 trees planted on the courtyard, '25 Verde' definitely is built around the trees.

With 50 trees planted on the courtyard, ’25 Verde’ definitely is built around the trees.

Pia has worked on a lot of different projects; the treehouse is just one. He is also interested in renovating old buildings in the future. The ’25 Verde’ project started in 2007 and took five years to complete. Architect Pia tells that there was a lot of difficulties during the process: the first thing was to get the acceptance from the city of Turin.

”Everything is very conservative in Turin,” Pia criticizes.

The building changes constantly since the trees are growing. The trees protect the building from air and noise pollution and they also form their own microclimate inside the building – in the summer they protect the building from the heat and in the winter they keep the building and the courtyard warm. This makes the building energy efficient, which was one of the main goals of Pia.

25 Verde consists of 63 residential units, each of them are different and unique. About 60% of the apartments are occupied at the moment. Every apartment has a terrace or a balcony, and the apartments on the top floors have their own rooftop terraces, where most of the residents have built a garden. One of the owners of an rooftop garden is Paolo Botto, who works on renewable energy and lives both in Turin and in London.

”I like particularly two things in this building. First of all, the design, which is completely crazy. And second, the energy efficiency,” Botto summarizes.

Botto also appreciates the lifestyle in 25 Verde – living there doesn’t feel like living in a city. The forest-like courtyard offers privacy and tranquility, but the moment you step outside it’s obvious that you’re no longer in nature.

”Here you’re outside, but you’re still inside the city.”

 

Community plays an important role

Living in the building since the very beginning in 2012, Botto loves the 25 Verde lifestyle. He explains that the residents have their own WhatsApp groups and they arrange gatherings every now and then.

”We do stuff together. Most of the people I tell about our community are very surprised about this special relationship we have here. Most of the people living in condos just end up hating each other,” Botto laughs.

A view from Paolo Botto's rooftop garden, where Botto grows different vegetables, fruits and berries.

A view from Paolo Botto’s rooftop garden, where Botto grows different vegetables, fruits and berries.

Both Botto and Pia agree – you either love or hate the building. Living in a community like this treehouse attracts like-minded people.

”People that live here are all slightly unbalanced, they share something,” Botto sums up.

Pia is happy that the residents have created an open atmosphere. The people who live in the building are normal people after all – young and old people, with big families or just by themselves. It is possible because living in the building is not too expensive. Pia estimates that an average price for a square meter is around 5,000€, which is close to the average of the surrounding neighborhood.

Everyone living in the building has to take care of their own balconies and terraces, but the common spaces are kept by the staff. Botto has built his own garden where he grows fruits and vegetables for his own use.

The border between indoors and outdoors is flickering, since asymmetrical balconies and terraces form a second living room for the residents. Connecting indoors and outdoors was another goal that Pia was reaching for. Now, looking back the whole process after three years of finishing the building, Pia is happy.

”There’s nothing I would change in this building.”

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