Artist: Pedro Reyes
In collaboration with Jorge Covarrubias
Parque Vertical, 2002-08
Architectural model and billboard
Courtesy Yvon Lambert Gallery, New York
This two-part project by Pedro Reyes engages the iconic Insignia Tower at Tlatelolco, a high-rise designed in the shape of a tall triangle. Originally housing government offices, the building was abandoned after the 1985 earthquake. The artist’s proposal involves the transformation of this structure into a vertical park, where neighbors could apply for plots in which hundreds of hydroponic units would be used to grow food. The project includes the installation of solar panels on the sides of the building, which would generate power to pump water through the building, into hydroponic units. Reyes has produced an architectural model that displays his proposal. Lately, it is rumored that the building has been sold for private development. The second part of the project is a billboard that appropriates strategies used to sell corporate building projects to promote the artist’s idea for a ¨green skyscraper¨ to the inhabitants of Tlatelolco and to the new developers of the building.
Tlatelolco is the quintessential modernity mega-project: A living complex built for 100,000 habitants, it has been the setting for many significant moments in twentieth-century Mexican history, from the student massacre in 1968 to the earthquake of 1985. The primary building of this massive housing compound is a high-rise shaped like a triangle and visible across the city. Formerly housing government offices, the building has been abandoned for the last twenty years. The government wanted to relocate the police headquarters there, but the neighbors were strongly opposed, so I had the idea to recreate it as a vertical park, an urban farm where the neighbors could apply for a parcel and utilize hundreds of hydroponic units to grow their own food. The problem with making a “green skyscraper” is water. We discovered that Tlatelolco has a drainage system with a single output; connecting a water treatment plant to this output would meet the irrigation needs. On its west and east facades, the tower has two massive blind walls, so covering them with solar panels would create enough electricity to pump the water up to the hydroponic parcels. It is actually a feasible project requiring a relatively small investment. Every opportunity we have, we publish the project in papers and magazines, announcing it as a “World Environmental Education Center.” In doing so we are creating a rumor, but we are also enabling a critical mass that could eventually make it a reality. I think this strategy has been effective, as we are often asked when it will open. Recently we became aware that the building was finally acquired. Its vocation is not defined yet, but most probably will be offices. As a farewell intervention to our green master plan we decided to install a billboard next to the building, similar to those where you see how a building under construction will look when finished. The idea is to “make available” some of our proposals to the future developers, and create certain expectations about its environmental possibilities.