In Death Cab For Cutie's song 'Why You'd Want to Live Here,' Ben Gibbard sings about the Los Angeles landscape, including the line "I can't see why you'd want to live here. Billboards reach past the tallest buildings."
Well, there are lots of reasons to live in L.A., but the billboards probably aren't high on most people's lists. That's why L.A.-based artist Stephen Glassman is working on the Urban Air project.
He has ambitious plans to replace some billboards with bamboo gardens which he calls "sky forests." The proposed installations would also feature intelligent technology.
Here's how it would work: Glassman wants to install architecturally integrated planters that host a live bamboo forest. Built-in misters would keep the plants alive, allowing them to grow and produce a nice, leafy view for urban dwellers.
Glassman has a lot of experience working with bamboo. He's a sculptor who's been creating large-scale bamboo installations in urban settings since the '90s.
And on the high-tech side, the installation will also be wi-fi enabled, letting people connect online when they're nearby. Plus, it will have climate monitoring technology built in to keep tabs on the state of the sky forest.
Right now, Urban Air is a one-billboard company. They've installed their flagship project on a billboard stand in Los Angeles.
But they have big plans: they want to take the sky forest idea to lots of other billboards in the L.A. area, and expand internationally.
Check out the Urban Air intro video below:
"Upon a successful launch, it's our plan and intention to transform the steel and wood of outdoor advertising to the infrastructure of urban sustainability in cities around the globe - actively, publicly, and collectively generating a green global future," says a statement on their website.
At this point, the project has been designed, engineered and sourced, and it's received some attention: they won the 2011 London International Creativity Award. All they need is funding.
And if you're looking for an artistic justification for switching up a few of L.A.'s billboards, here's that Death Cab song: