We're not sure whether this is a crazy or brilliant idea, but a French firm is proposing to turn Paris' Eiffel Tower into the world's largest "tree" by blanketing it with hundreds of thousands of plants.
Earlier last week, the French newspaper Le Figaro leaked details of a proposal by the Ginger Group, an engineering and urban planning consultancy which hopes to transform the tower into France's symbol of forward-thinking sustainability and world-class eco-tourism.
Designed by Gustave Eiffel in 1889, the Eiffel Tower is one of the world's biggest tourist attractions with over seven million visitors per year. According to Reuters and Inhabitat, Ginger's plan will transform the 324 meter (1063 feet) tall steel tower into Paris' "green lung" by adding 12 tons of rubber irrigation tubing and over 600,000 plants in hemp bags, weighing an estimated total of 378 tons, which will be strategically placed so that they do not obstruct the view of visitors ascending the tower. In all, the project will cost approximately 72 million Euros (or 97 million US dollars) and would absorb 87.8 tons of CO2.
So far, Parisian city officials has not approved the project, though Ginger has gone ahead and built a small-scale model of the project out in the suburbs, and if given the go-ahead, the firm could start the actual planting by summer 2013.
Nevertheless, the bold proposal is not without its detractors. The Guardian's Nabila Ramdani calls the project "misguided," saying that
Placing 600,000 hanging plants around the famous structure at a cost of [72 million Euros] would be irresponsibly louche at the best of times, but with France facing economic collapse because of the eurozone crisis, it sounds criminal.
All said, it's not a bad idea to re-imagine such a modern icon into a green, carbon-sucking giant. After all, there's no doubt that the carbon sequestration from a "greened" Eiffel Tower would give a huge boost to Paris' recent and extensive, citywide green-roof program. But whether this justifies the astronomical cost in hard economic times -- or whether it will even win over popular imagination -- remains to be seen.