Mobile Orchard

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london tower

Venue: Around the City

Monday 24 – Saturday 29 June Paternoster Square

Monday 1 – Saturday 6 July Devonshire Square

Monday 8 – Saturday 13 July The Gherkin (30, St Mary Axe)

Monday 15 – Saturday 20 July New Street Square

Monday 22 – Friday 26 July Finsbury Avenue Square

This summer, we transform some of the most familiar spaces of the Square Mile into an extraordinary urban orchard with this spectacular new commission. Escape the hustle of everyday city life and be transported into a fantastical new habitat designed and constructed especially for the modern city-dweller.

What is it?

At its centre the Mobile Orchard consists of two monumental, intertwining trees that emerge overnight from the concrete of the City’s landscape.

The deeply-sculpted timber structure, spliced with thin curling layers of aluminium, consists of wild and sprawling roots flowing seamlessly into the skyward-spiraling trunks and back out as branches above, splaying into lightweight laser-cut leaves and blossom which provide delicate layers of dappled summer shade.

Within the root system, nestles a wide range of landscaped seats for leisurely lunch breaks or lounging days off. For the more adventurous discover nooks and niches deep within the twin trunks. Or climb upwards to sit high in the canopy for a completely different perspective on your urban environment.

At the beginning of each week, the branches will hang heavy with a constellation of five hundred fresh apples – food from heaven ripe for the picking. The weekly ‘harvesting’ of the apples by the public will mimic the seasonal cycle of our orchards, transforming from Autumn plenty to Winter barrenness to Summer re-growth.

The undulating canopy, a fantastical mix of blossom and foliage, creates ever-changing patterns of shadows and dappled light. Beneath it a sheltered performance space that will host an enticing programme of theatre, music, and dance performances for the audience luxuriating beneath its boughs.

The central trees will be accompanied by a benevolent army of real, young fruit trees, scattered in its wake like a bridal trail.

Why?

For the last four years, the City of London Festival has had an environmental strand running through its programme. From our City Bees project back in 2010 to birds in 2011 and flowers last year, we now turn our attention to the City’s trees.

Trees are an essential part of urban environments: they create habitats for wildlife and improve air quality, but substantial research suggests that they have a positive effect on mental health, lowering stress levels.

British orchards have been in serious decline over the last sixty years – the National Trust has estimated that more than 60 percent of traditional orchards have been lost since the 1950s. To halt this decline, there has been a recent drive to protect existing orchards and create more community orchards in non-traditional spaces. As our society become increasingly urbanised the creation of productive and communal green spaces within towns and cities is crucial to ensure we stay connected with the natural world, the food we harvest from it, and with each other.

Our Mobile Orchard aims to highlight these issues, to prompt visitors to look anew at our urban environment, and to celebrate the beauty of trees. It also provides a space for interaction, conversation, festivities, and fun, reawakening the tree-climbing child in all of us!

Post-Festival

At the heart of the Mobile Orchard project is a sustainable legacy. The central sculpture will be gifted to our project partner – charity Trees for Cities – who will continue to tour it around the country. Twelve of the real fruit trees will be planted at Middlesex Street Estate in the City to create a long-term community orchard, in liaison with the Middlesex Street Gardening Club and the City of London Open Spaces Department. The remainder of the trees will be distributed to schools across the capital to create a network of fruit growing in London for years to come.

Project Partners

This project would not have been possible without the support and hard work of all our partners.

Design

Special thanks to our fantastic design team at Atmos, in particular, Alex Haw and Jeg Dudley, who have gone far above and beyond to make our vision for the Mobile Orchard come alive in spectacular fashion. 

Atmos is a multidisciplinary art + architecture + design practice. They work across scales and media, creating immersive, stirring spaces and things that merge meaning and sensuality.

Fabricators

Nicholas Alexander Ltd is a creative construction company passionate about creating beautiful, high-quality projects in the house. No matter what the brief, there are a few things which set them apart: obsessive attention to detail, a completely open mind regarding materials and construction, and, after over ten years in the industry, a straightforward, straight-talking approach.

Structural Engineering

Blue Engineering is a young, innovative practice offering pioneering consultancy on diverse structural issues, with a successful history of collaborations with atmos.

Lighting Consultancy

Arup brings together art, science, and technology. Their truly global team of designers creates expressive, sustainable, and award-winning concepts in light.

Lighting Sponsors

LED Linear supplies high quality linear LED lighting solutions worldwide.

Wibre manufacture and supply lighting product solutions for buildings and facades, both outdoors and underwater.

Architectural FX is the UK partner for both.

Trees Donation

Worshipful Company of Fruiterers

The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers has been supporting the City of London since the thirteenth century. We promote excellence and fund education and research in the fruit industry and raise money for charity. In recent years the Company has also focused on healthy eating and supporting projects to increase the fruit and vegetable content in children’s diet.

They are participating in the City of London Festival in 2013 because the Lord Mayor has a special interest in trees, and trees are the main theme of the Festival. Members of the Company are working with the organisers of the Festival to provide fruit, fruit trees, stories, and educational material. They aim to increase London children’s knowledge and awareness of the fruit’s growth, production, and health-giving properties.

You Garden

YouGarden was created by three enthusiastic and experienced Horticulturalists who have spent several decades working in the nursery industry and firmly believe that Gardening is for Everyone! 

Apples Donation

New Spitalfields Market Tenants Association

The New Spitalfields Market Tenant Association Ltd represents the traders of New Spitalfields Market, the number one wholesale market in the UK, offering the broadest range of exotic fresh fruit and vegetables from all over the world, to meet the needs of a cosmopolitan London and beyond.

Website

For more information on the project, take a look at the project microsite built by Sinead Mac Manus and 8fold.

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