This large piece of inhabitable public art, designed by Atmos, is the centrepiece commissioned for this year’s City of London Festival, and opens opposite St Pauls Cathedral on 24th June.
The Mobile Orchard re-imagines what urban fruit trees could be. It centres on a vast sculpture of two inhabitable intertwining trees, with climbable electric-veined trunks, roots that curl to form seats and benches, 500 real apples and luminous data-scraped leaves hanging above.
The project will inhabit a different major London square each week of the festival, and hosting a series of theatre performances and activities – including an urban picnic and a fruit feast.
The highly sculptural multilayered plywood core, curved-fold aluminium branches and lasercut canopy have all been digitally designed and CNC-machined, and are being fabricated by Nicholas Alexander.
The PR reads: “Each root flows seamlessly into the skywards-spiralling trunks and back out as branches above -bifurcating and splaying into lightweight lasercut leaves and blossom, providing delicate layers of dappled summer shade. The branches nestle a constellation of over 500 fresh apples – food from heaven awaiting theplucking, encouraging visitors to explore and hunt for healthy sustenance. The undulating canopy creates ever-changing patterns of shadows and dappled light -sheltering theatre, music and dance performances, shading and entrancing the audiencesluxuriating beneath its boughs. The crenelated bark is further grooved with radiating seams of dynamic lighting – their luminousveins running the length of the tree to terminate in glowing LED bulbs above. The entire landscape will be a deeply-sculpted timber structure, spliced with thin curling layers ofstructural steel – parametrically designed and digitally fabricated using minimal material to giveextraordinary rigidity and yet encourage wind-responsive lightness, mimicking the elegantstructural prowess of nature itself. The central trees will be accompanied by a sprawling, choir of 100 young fruit trees, scatteredacross the local neighbourhood. Rest and picnic-spot, playground and place of wonder, the ensemble celebrates the glory andbeauty of trees and nature – and our own human interactions”.