Mexico City is one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world. While projects have been underway for years to combat pollution and reduce the respiratory problems from which 6 in 10 Mexicans suffer, the latest iterations of some existing, non-profit-funded projects are intended to add much-needed color and environmental consciousness to the capital’s principal avenues.
Government intervention in the 1980s resulted in the closure and relocation of deadly emission-producing factories and introduced the Hoy No Circula initiative, which banned drivers from driving at least one day a week. But in 1992, Mexico City was still the most polluted city in the world. While emissions have dropped significantly since then, a recent loosening of regulations has seen pollution once again on the rise. In April and May 2016, pollution had reached levels that were in fact dangerous to the health of this metropolis’ residents and visitors. While initiatives have been in place since the 1980s to combat the city’s dangerously poor air quality, it’s the recent eco-sculpture installations that have grabbed headlines and attention.
The green space initiative is funded by the non-profit organization VERDMX and was started back in 2011 in partnership with Nissan. This 2011 project aimed to develop five vibrant eco-sculptures in locations across the city, which would help to replenish the air’s oxygen levels and fight the pollution problem. Designed by architect Fernando Ortiz Monasterio and constructed by VerdeVertical, these sculptures received global news coverage and recognition as they helped to make Mexico City’s air cleaner than that of Los Angeles. While local residents were skeptical about the project, with some claiming that Diego Rivera murals were much more attractive, the sculptures had a positive effect on the capital’s environment while demonstrating a vibrant integration of art and ecology.
VERDMX announced plans in 2016 to implement new environmentally friendly technologies and systems within some of the pre-existing vertical gardens. The two sculptures located on Sevilla and Tamarindos have now been revamped to make use of recycled materials, which allow the plants to flourish while they continue to rid the surrounding air of greenhouse gases.