Mobile Arboretum

Location: Bow Churchyard Cheapside, Middlesex Street in Aldgate
Date: 2022
Status: Commission | Temporary
Client: Cheapside Business Alliance & Aldgate Connect BID

Following the success of the City benches project over the past four years, the London Festival of Architecture (LFA), the Cheapside Business Alliance (CBA) and the Aldgate Connect BID commissioned an urban forest installation design by Wayward that was installed to coincide with the London Festival of Architecture in June 2022 and remained in place until 31 August 2022.

The brief was to respond to themes of urban greening, rewilding, sustainability and play and to use the history of the selected sites to create something playful and immersive, while also acting as a space to inhabit in various different ways.

The Design

The Mobile Arboretum by Wayward 

Mobile Arboretum © Luke O’Donovan

Wayward’s design for the Mobile Arboretums focused on the market history of the two locations – medieval produce and poultry in the case of Cheapside and fabrics from Petticoat Lane in Aldgate – using this as the framework for a new arboreal legacy. The installations emphasise each site’s history as hubs for trade by housing saplings and other young plants in market barrows and carts.

Throughout the summer the plants were cared for by the Ambassadors of Cheapside and Aldgate. On 1 June, Wayward hosted three drawing and writing workshops, Tall Tale Trees, at the Aldgate Mobile Arboretum for the public. These sessions explored participants’ relationships to the trees of London using automatic writing techniques, emotive and auditory drawing process and using natural materials to create the words on the page.

Mobile Arboretum © Luke O’Donovan

Wayward, is a London-based landscape, art and architecture collective of designers, artists and urban growers. Wayward are an organisation who have long prioritised local narratives, centring much of its work around the history of an area as a means of community engagement. In 2010, Wayward were involved in the London Festival of Architecture as they hosted the Union Street Urban Orchard, a project that reclaimed derelict land in Bankside, making use of over a hundred volunteers to transform the site into a space for exchange between local residents and visitors. 

More recently, Wayward was involved in the Algae Meadow, a collaboration between them and Seyi Adelekun for LFA 2021 that explored how biodiversity can be cared for and enhanced in urban environments. 

Mobile Arboretum © Luke O’Donovan

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