French citizens were outraged when word began to spread that the Eiffel Tower would be undergoing an “eco makeover” that would cover the country’s most well-known landmark and tourist attraction in over 600,000 plants. The idea, according to Ginger, the company suggesting the change, would cause the tower to become economically sustainable and carbon positive, with the tower giving off tons of carbon dioxide and absorbing tons. Plans were said to include an immense amount of rubber tubing to provide irrigation, marking the tower as “ecologically correct.”
Not so fast, say French authorities, who responded quickly to the controversy gripping the country that the “Iron Lady”, representative of her builders from the Industrial Age, would be transformed for the “Age of Green.” SETE, which operates the tower, and Paris’s city council have denied any truth to the story recently leaked by Le Figaro, a French newspaper.
The paper reported that the plans include hanging the plants from hemp ropes that would be fixed to the tower’s structure, and that twelve tons of rubber tube would be used for irrigating them. The plants would be nurtured until June of 2012 and then find homes on the tower, where they would grow until July of 2016.
Ginger, the company responsible for all the fuss, is involved with engineering with a special emphasis on eco-projects. They have been quick to defend the project despite the negative feedback received, citing a desire to bring nature back into an urban area.
The Eiffel Tower has been world famous since its construction in 1889, though initial public reception was lukewarm at best. Named after the man who designed it, Gustave Eiffel, the tower is immediately recognizable as a French icon and receives an average of seven million visitors annually. The tower was originally slated for destruction after two decades, but was saved from annihilation when it proved to be useful as a beacon for communication during World War I.
Ginger has stated that they see the tower as having the potential to become a “tree of life,” representing France’s commitment to a sustainable future. The projected cost of transforming the tower into a virtual jungle has been reported as close to 62 million pounds. The plants would weigh nearly four hundred tons.
This is not the first time that the tower has seen additions. A decade ago it was host to thousands of light bulbs, which would not be effected by the addition of the plants, according to Ginger, who planned to add LED lights to the proposed jungle so that it would continue to offer its now-famous sparkle.
Tourists with plans to visit the iconic structure in the future have expressed fears, outrage, and astonishment at the proposal. Some expressed distaste for all things green, labeling them as faddish. This plan in particular has been suggested as improper to even consider at a time when economic issues are of concern all over the world.
Residents of Paris need not fear, however, as the plan has been labeled a pipe dream for the time being.
Carol Montrose is a contributing writer for Morrison Hershfield, the leader in innovative, eco-friendly and cost effective engineering projects.