Imagining the Eiffel Tower Covered in Trees

A French consultancy group is pitching the idea of turning the national landmark into a giant tree.
The trees would weigh down the tower an additional 400 tons. (Photo courtesy Ginger Group)
Dec 7, 2011· 1 MIN READ
Originally from Baltimore, Oliver lives and writes on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn.

California redwoods, the tallest trees in the world, can soar more than 350 feet into the air. The tallest of them, Hyperion, stands twice the size of the Statue of Liberty and has enjoyed the rarefied air of the upper reaches for hundreds of years.

But in Paris, a much taller—if more short-lived—"tree" is now under consideration. According to Le Figaro, French consultancy Ginger Group has proposed blanketing the Eiffel Tower with 600,000 plants, transforming the steel-riveted testament to manmade engineering into something resembling a giant Christmas tree, complete with 10,000 blinking lights.

As you might have guessed, turning the 1,063-foot tower into a living, breathing green monument is no walk in the park. The weight of the plants alone would be around 400 tons, and an irrigation system would have to be installed to ensure the greenery doesn't dry out like a Christmas tree in February. The installation alone would cost about $100 million, and that's not including the maintenance cost of keeping these plants alive.

Not surprisingly, Jean-Bernard Bros, a city councilman in charge of the Eiffel Tower, was quick to deny that any plans were in place.

"You can't stop people having ideas," he said to the AFP. "Nothing has been finalised, nothing has been studied. I had knowledge of this project along with many others, people suggest new ideas for the Eiffel Tower to me every day."

Still, the plan isn't all stems and seeds. The project would produce 84.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide while the plants absorbed 87.8 tonnes, rendering the plan carbon negative. As expensive as it would be to install, there's no denying that the sight of plants and trees stretching a thousand feet into the air would be something to behold. Other nations could even follow suit: a moss-covered Statue of Liberty, an ivy-laden Big Ben—these could be the planet's symbols of our commitment to living with nature, not in defiance of it.

Or, we could just save that money and plant a whole lot of trees instead. I'm guessing they'll go with the latter.