Tea Calculating and Crowdsourced Gardens: Pop-Up Architecture
A gazebo filled with locally bred algae and a giant tea-making machine are two examples of a series of pop-up architectural installations that are transforming iconic locations around London.
Designed by researchers at the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture, the structures, which will be on show until September 12, give an innovative and unusual aesthetic twist to locations across the city, and have been designed to express physical and architectural ideas about London and its residents.
The “Alga(e)zebo,” in Euston Square Gardens, is a large steel canopy — looking not entirely unlike something form Alice in Wonderland – blends human interaction with natural surroundings. The complex patterns of the structure engulf a seating area are designed to allow trees or bushes to grow through, and the columns are filled with different strains of locally bred algae, for that true back-to-nature vibe.
“BLOOM” (pictured above), located in Victoria Park, University College London, and in Trafalgar Square during the Paralympic Games, is a crowdsourced garden, or – ahem – a “collective garden experience” that allows any number of passers-by to help build a garden using thousands of individual (recyclable) cells that can be added on to an existing pavilion or simply connected at random for the ultimate in surreal urban landscape gardening.
Sitting opposite the House of Commons in the symbolic grounds of Parliament Square is the “House of Flags”, an installation that showcases all 206 flags of the competing nations in the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics – a bold, colourful offering from the outside, and a far more abstract journey once visitors walk through the inside of the 17 metre-long structure.
Taking the time-honoured tradition of tree-etching a step or two further is “Tr(ee)logy,” a series of large, temporary plywood trees "planted" around London, each with a story carved into it that explores an element of London’s rich history, in the process unearthing long-forgotten tales of the city and endowing them to a new generation.
Finally, keeping things thoroughly, eccentrically British is “The Universal Tea Machine” (UTM), at Victoria Park. Angled as “a gargantuan cross between a tea-making device, a primitive computer and a pinball machine” — and measuring roughly the same height as a giraffe and length of a bus — the UTM is essentially a user-controlled computer, releasing a series of balls which must be maneavoured through obstacles by calculation, teamwork, and a dash of luck. The process and chosen route instructs the UTM on making the perfect cup of tea. Get it wrong, however, and you could end up with just a cup of milk, or even a generous outpouring of sugar — without the cup.
Truly, architecture at its most interactive.
Images via UCL News' photostream on Flickr