Design Competition, Sydney, Australia

Nature’s Cathedral was selected as the winner to create a pop up park at the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 and will be on display and hosted in Sydney from 12 to 19 November 2014 .

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The installation is intended to inspire and challenge our understanding of what a park is, and perhaps what they might be.

The trees are suspended at a height to inspire the reverence which we generally attribute to our ‘natural environment’. However, the trees are also exposed, and held in stasis by the ‘structure’ of man in the form of the scaffold armature. The composition is to simultaneously celebrate the beauty of the natural, and question our relationship to it that potentially both supports its being, and potentially restricts its matter.

The dazzling array of scaffolding, an icon of growth and construction in the urban environment, is manifest in the traditional plan form of a cathedral. This planametric organisation is obscured by the matrix of the scaffold structure and the dynamic shadows that its casts. 

Halogen lights will throw light upwards onto the trees through the scaffold projecting shadows of itself onto the physical space of the host building, and therefore extending its being into the world.

In suspension, the trees now also reveal their own structure in the form of a root ball system that is itself as wonderful as the canopy above and yet more mystical because of its usual nature of being hidden. Revealing the root system is once again a significant part of the narrative of the pop-up park to inspire wonder in the trees, and simultaneously reveal it’s delicate, and yet enduring nature.

Rings of suspended medical type glowing green transfusion bags ring the trees like chandeliers. This intervention is to demonstrate our ability, and willingness to support the natural environment, and question the nature of natural and artificial in our parks, their design, and maintenance. The medical transfusion bags also hark towards the issue of health and wellbeing, and the significance that our parks have on our personal and social wellbeing within the landscape of the built environment that is our cities.

Mounds of variable materials at ground level control our circulation through the space, and again make us wonder about the connection between the suspended trees and the earth in which they reside, and our imposition on the system. At first glance the mounds look to be located within the rigid plan of the structure, however they can be seen to undermine the planametric order of the scaffold structure and allude to issues of control of the dynamic medium that is the landscape. 

Digital QR codes implanted on all components will enable visitors to track data through their phones on each item that describe its qualitative and quantitative significance, e.g. source, volume, habitat, etc. in relationship to the story of the installation. 

Nature’s Cathedral is an immersive space of wonder and celebration, of contrast and difference, and of challenge to the significance of the landscapes, and the landscape discipline in the built environment that informs our cultural, ecological, economic, and political being.

The IUCN World Parks Congress is a global event involving some 4,000 delegates from 160 countries to focus attention on the value and importance of parks. Held once a decade, the theme is Parks, Planet, people: inspiring solutions and it will showcase nature's solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges such as food and water security and human health. 

Please also go here for the AILA Press Release