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What if installs orchard for Southbank Festival of Neighbourhood

Inspired by National Trust founder Octavia Hill What if:projects has installed a green space along Mandela Walk at the Southbank

As part of the Southbank Festival of Neighbourhood London-based small practice What if:projects has installed a series of green spaces along Mandela Walk, near to the Southbank centre. The aim is to link inner city housing estates with this temporary green space.

Galvanised metal bins, typically used for rubbish in multi-storey housing estates, have been planted with fruit trees creating an urban orchard along the pedestrian walkway.  

South facing timber platforms with integrated tree bins provide seating and picnic areas and invite people to rest and linger.

The orchard highlights the lack of access to green space in high density housing areas, and aims to open up the opportunities these often neglected, forgotten and unloved spaces in the city can offer to urban communities.

The installation will remain in place until September. Once the installation ends the orchard will be split into small groups and moved to green spaces within the nearby housing estates, creating a lasting legacy of the festival.

Architects view

Ulrike Steven, director, What if:projects

Octavia’s Orchard is inspired by the work of Victorian social reformer and founder of the National Trust, Octavia Hill (1838-1912) who, a century earlier, addressed problems of urban well-being and campaigned for open spaces in London.

Addressing problems of urban well-being over a hundred years ago, Octavia Hill stressed that ‘tenants and all urban workers should have ac­cess to open spaces. Places to sit in, places to play in, places to stroll in, and places to spend a day in.’ Her aims are relevant to the problems faced by many urban dwellers today and particularly people living in high density and deprived urban environments lack access to green spac­es.

Many housing estates in inner city London are based on the principles of the garden city where multi-storey housing blocks are surrounded by generous areas of green space. While full of potential these areas are often neglected and left to be used as dog toilet rather than much needed spaces for recreation and play.

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