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The columns of Mexico City′s busiest highways have been converted into more than 600,000 square feet of vertical gardens stretching across 27km. Through its project tagged Via Verde, it has transformed over 1,000 previously bare and boring concrete pillars of its elevated highway. It is acclaimed to be the “greatest urban greening project under construction on the planet.”

City highways are synonymous with noise and chaos but Via Verde is changing that. Photo Credit: Via Verde

Via Verde is designed to beautify the city by improving its aesthetics and help improve the air quality in the city. This citizen-led initiative, funded by donors and local government, runs in collaboration with the Mexican workshop VERDEVERTICAL and turns Mexico City into an international model. In a city where 6 out of 10 residents suffer from a respiratory disease due to bad air quality, these gardens will be a new green lung which will generate oxygen, absorb pollutants, provide thermic regulation and even help moderate traffic noise.

Greens in the city offer a wide range of environmental, health, aesthetic and other benefits. Photo Credit: Via Verde

Via Verde is expected to:

Produce oxygen for more than 25,000 people each year

Suck up over 27,000 tons of harmful gases

Capture an estimated 11,000 pounds of dust

Another interesting component is the fact that the project will not utilize a single drop of drinkable water. It uses the elevated highway surfaces to capture rainwater, clean it and use it in combination with the grey water to irrigate the vertical gardens. An automated rainwater irrigation system that is monitored remotely via GSM, ensures that the vegetation remains at an optimal state.

The plants are doing quite well too. Photo Credit: Via Verde

No soil was used for planting. Rather, the project developed a particular felt – hydroponic textile with a special density which allows the roots of the plants to interweave in the cloth. The cloth is made from recycled plastic and has the same density as soil.

The installation of the vertical gardens was carefully designed and will not affect the pillars’ structure in any way, as they will be superimposed on prefabricated metal frames. The frames were attached to the pillars with a series of peripheral metal rings.

Tomatoes and other vegetables thrive well here. Photo Credit: Via Verde

In order for the gardens to retain this state in the long term, the chosen plant species to be used are of high strength, low water consumption and suitable for the surrounding conditions, requiring as little maintenance as possible.

Each plant is carefully selected. Photo Credit: Via Verde

Similar projects where highways are being turned into vertical gardens can be found in Germany, Japan, the United States and France.

Via Verde is not only good for the environment, it offers immense health benefits to people too. Mexico City is regarded as a very stressful city with high levels of air pollution. Human contact with nature reduces stress and Via Verde helps the 22 million residents of the city make contact with nature on a daily basis. By transforming gray into green, Via Verde is improving the psychological well-being of its people.

Before… Photo Credit: Via Verde
After… Photo Credit: Via Verde

Via Verde is a green and beautiful initiative that is helping to restore beauty and joy!

Is your city doing the same? Do you think they should?

Wildlife is not left out as birds find a perfect nesting place too. Photo Credit: Via Verde


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