“Via Verde” (Green Way) tries to reduce high pollution levels and make Mexico City less grim. It plans to give clean oxygen to 2500 people and filter all type of contaminants. However, despite the motivations, the Via Verde has received criticism of all types.
The project first came to light when Change.org published the initiative and collected 80.000 signatures. As a result, the city council approved the project. The plan is to build 60.000 square metres of vertical gardens on 1000 highway columns in order to reduce pollution levels in the city, as well as to tackle the city’s green area deficit. The project is designed by architect Fernand Ortiz Monasterio from Verde Vertical, a leading vertical garden construction company.
Via Verde’s main objectives are to provide oxygen to 2500 people, filter 27.000 tons of gases, capture 5000 kg of dust and to process more than 10.000 kg of heavy metals. Additionally, it aspires to become the world’s largest nature-urban regeneration project. Through a drip irrigation system and using rain, Via Verde plans to make the gardens last a long time. The project also has a side objective, that of bringing color to the city and to tackle the growing green area deficit.
Despite the good intentions of the project, Via Verde has unleashed different opinions and criticisms. First, the branding of this project as a public space is not completely true. It does not engage or empower citizens and it does not stop car use. The dominant trend in urban regeneration is to benefit cyclists and pedestrians. The lack of citizen-empowering behind this project could be an obstacle for Mexico’s green agenda if the city’s goal is to become a world leader in this sector.
Additionally, critics think the project is not cheap and that the money could be used more wisely. For instance, a picture showing similar prices between building one Via Verde column and 300 trees has become viral. The picture suggests the creation of “real” green spaces,instead, for a similar cost. Other opinions, also suggest that the project does not tackle high noise levels or that 80.000 signatures are not enough for a city with 20 million inhabitants.
Via Verde is trying to repurpose existing infrastructure in order to create green areas. However, the project has instead created a controversial debate on how useful or beneficial such a plan actually is.