Renegade Air gardening in NYC

I came across this interesting extension of the “Guerilla Gardening” phenomenon. Any of us who live in NYC know its not always the ‘greenest’ place – at least when it comes to flora and fauna. Thats why I was intrigued by TODO Design’s proposal to take over New York City billboards and greenify them with living “air gardens”.

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Billboards (contend Inhabitat) are “designed as monological messages aimed at a target audience zipping past in cars in a defined direction, such as a one way street. As the flip sides of the billboards are not designed to market to a pedestrian or community scaled audience, often appearing as blight on the landscape. Garden Spots proposes to exploit them to provide gardens in the sky, a place for nature to take root and to provide relief to the community”. (Interestingly, New York is also notable for its spectacular billboards aimed equally at a pedestrian audience).

I think it is an excellent idea to use billboards as a way of reducing a City’s carbon footprint and beautifying it at the same time. I have suggested green billboards to clients on several occasions (notably Planet Green) so far without success!

Apparently these air gardens are designed around self-sustaining technologies with photovoltaic panels powering the automated drip irrigation system fed from the base of the billboard towers. As such, the gardens will require limited management once established and can be monitored in clusters from a centralized location via wireless technology.

I just hope they use drought-resistant plants …

Post Scriptum: Actually this reminds me of Leo Burnett’s growing lettuce billboard promoting McDonald’s venture into fresh salad meals. Having just won Gold at New York Festivals’ Innovative Advertising Awards, the billboard was carefully constructed with a horticulturalist/landscape architect, allowing the lettuce buds to bloom over time, gradually filling up the sign with beautiful, edible leaves.

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