Mexico City is known for being an urban concrete jungle, with parkland and green spaces few and far between. One thing that Mexico City does not lack is a vast amount of tall concrete walls and high levels of air pollution.

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Recognising the drastic need in his hometown to help purify the polluted smoggy air, the architect Fernando Ortiz Monasterio came up with the VerdeVertical project in 2007 to help fight this.

With the lack of space to provide green space outwards, Fernando’s idea was to plant upwards and make the most of the large amount of concrete walls and columns throughout the city, especially along the cities highways. Fernando established a special focused architectural practice in 2007 solely for this project, named VerdeVertical with the goal to plant vertical gardens across the capital. The target that VerdeVertical set themselves was to try and plant across as much as possible of the estimated 168 sq km of bare concrete walls and facades in the city. By 2015 they had vertical gardens covering in excess of 40,000 sq m of Mexico City which ranged from highway support columns, the exteriors of the buildings, restaurant courtyards and everything in-between.

The support columns running down the main highway in the capital was one of the largest aspects in the project. In 2016, Fernando proposed covering the 1,000 concrete support columns, which they completed in 2018 and now this new stretch of vertical greenery filters over 27,000 tons of noxious gases from vehicle fumes. This has made a vast difference to the air quality, environment and not to mention the aesthetic and social benefit to the addition of the new greenery.

Their vision for the year 2030 is to make the cities of the world have a minim of 9 m2 of green area per inhabitant, which is the World Health Organisation’s recommendation

This VerdeVertical project has set a template for Mexico and many high densely populated cities across the world, this initiative will form the case study and benchmark across the world to help improve health of their citizens and protect the environment.