The Roaming Forest, Landscape Urbanism Biennale
The Roaming Forest project situated in the city of Bat-Yam, Israel was created for the Landscape Urbanism Biennale project; a continual program aimed at involving the urban sprawl communities of Bat-Yam, helping to improve their local districts. The project explores the social and spatial concepts of Sir Patrick Geddes, a Scottish pioneer, who led the way in social and biological thinking, making the link between the two and innovating town planning. The installation aims to create a contrast between the planned and regimented streets by introducing mobile informal planters that allow the local community to reorganize the installation depending on where its need is, relying on the communities’ action rather than the authority of planners.
The Roaming Forest occupied a section of public space singled out by a local tree nursery within the city of Bat-Yam. A small section of the space was planted with a series of fixed trees surrounded by mobile, multi-use tree planters containing a single semi-mature tree. In the initial stages, the installation was placed alongside a series of fixed trees; as the project progressed the public began to move the mobile forest throughout the space depending on the need, ultimately becoming an arrangement of informal seating. Groups would position the various planters together to form seating under the constant shade of the trees. The planters, day-by-day, moved across the public space with some disappearing into adjacent neighborhoods and even private gardens. Each became a series of individual installations along the streets and gardens of Bat-Yam and created a sequence of new public spaces. Once organized by the community, now it is becoming absorbed into the municipality as a natural framework. “Individuals, communities, and the municipality have taken ownership of the trees; once they settle into place the trees will be planted where they stand ”- Ed Wall. With such an unbound installation it heavily relied on the communities local knowledge and understanding of the public space to push, pull, and lift into the most favorable sites.
The curator team for the Landscape Urbanism Biennale program embraced this project for its involvement and relationships with the local communities, allowing them to shape their own surroundings. This project evoked the human need to create and organize their own space; shaping the regimented framework around them. “It extends the role of the designer to engage with all people and stages of the landscape process”-Ed Wall.
Being a continuous program and installation only time will tell if the community will embrace the liberating process of city planning and if the public will ultimately settle the trees in rational places. In any case, the undertaking set out by the design team is a social experiment in landscape planning, which is a very rare process to see. This method of allowing local communities to become involved within a less regulated side of town planning could be adopted by all municipalities, providing a more personal touch to the areas in which we inhabit. For instance, seating, tree planting, lighting, small water features, art installations, and various other forms within the landscape could all benefit from local knowledge and pride for the area when it comes to finalizing plans.
Project: Title: The Roaming Forest, Landscape Urbanism Biennale
Location: Bat-Yam, Israel
Landscape Architects: Project Studio (Ed Wall), Yael Bar Maor, and Mike Dring.
Photographer: Ed Wall
Year of Completion: 2010
Budget: 43,000 NIS (11,000 USD)
Area: 100m2 – 8km sq2
Client: Municipality of Bat-Yam, 2010-Landscape Urbanism Biennale