The Mobile Orchard is a new public installation by atmos - an inhabitable hymn to the urban fruit tree, commissioned as the centrepiece for the City of London Festival. Its exuberant design celebrates the wonder of trees, and offers a magical mutation - a welcoming structure tailored to humans.
The project seeks to create a new kind of public landscape that merges the best of man-made design and organic nature. It offers a labyrinth of complex, intriguing, generous spaces that seek to nourish all the senses - celebrating both natural trees, and the communion of cities.
It centres on a large, sculptural timber oasis that doubles as immersive summer street furniture - morphing into seating, shelter, stairway and sky-throne.
Its undulating roots offer a landscape for lounging, including sinuous benches and molten armchairs that cradle the gaze upwards through the hollow trunk.
Massive branches worm outwards from a dramatically leaning trunk to offer further seats, splaying to form steps that flow upwards to a branch-clad throne at the tip.
A lightweight latticework of aluminium unfurls from the laminated plywood grains to support a canopy of lasercut leaves - each blade a local London borough, with the host borough further subdivided into wards - the blossom and seeds of the project.
Electric LED lighting threads through its veins, uniting base and crown, its sinuous lines like section-cuts that graphically describe the segments of its core geometry, terminating in glowing bulbs of moon-light spots.
The installation is edible - cradling a constellation of real apples, refreshed daily, that are ripe for the plucking by any member of the public.
It is accompanied by a choir of young fruit trees that, like the modular nature of the tree itself, will grow over time, awaiting a future in schools and orchards across London.
The project will host a series of events and performances, including specially-commissioned theatre and music, a Fruit-Feast dinner and an Urban Picnic of gleaned fruit and veg from the team at Feeding the 5,000.
The Orchard moves each week to a new venue in the City of London before its young live trees are distributed to schools and orchards across London, and its centrepiece donated to Trees for Cities, who will tour it across Britain for 5 years.
The Mobile Orchard will travel to 5 venues over 5 weeks, opening on the Monday of each week and staying in place for 6 days.
Watch this space for announcements on its future journeys.
24th-30th June: Paternoster Square, London EC4M 7DY
1st-6th July: Devonshire Square, EC2M 4TH
8th-14th July: St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP
15th-21st July: New Street Square, London EC4A 3BF
22nd-26th July: Finsbury Avenue Square, London EC2M 2PG
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