MINI Installs An Urban Forest In London
London’s design festival promotes the city’s creativity, drawing in the country’s greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers and educators in one large celebration of design. This year, designer Asif Khan has partnered with MINI to create a three-part installation that explores urban living.
This installation is part of MINI’s LIVING programme; exploring architectural solutions to urban living challenges. Their project was kicked off earlier this year at the Salone del Mobile in Milan with their MINI co-living installation. This follow-up installation will address the need for a functional and flexible network of ‘third places’ in the urban environment.
MINI LIVING studied London’s streets and identified a network of three locations of underutilized public spaces. For these spaces, Khan has designed a collective called Forests. Each architectural design uses plants to explore the relationship between public and private space within the city. These installations explore the possibilities behind ‘third spaces’ where individuals can gather outside the realms of the home and workplace.
Each installation will create a different landscape, each serving a different purpose. The Connect space will act as a space where visitors and festival attendants can socialize; featuring a large communal table. The Create space provides stepped seating where visitors can work in quiet surroundings. Finally, the Relax space will feature an elevated room where visitors can enjoy a secluded green room within the city. MINI hopes that visitors will use these spaces as extensions of their private space; linking the public and the private. Visitors are also encouraged to take plants from the installations home with them and to share their growing progress on social media.
As a designer, Khan uses plants in these installations to explore the relationship between public and private space within cities. He uses the Japanese phrase ‘shinrin yoku’, which literally means ‘forest bathing’. Each installation is meant to allow every sense to absorb the forest atmosphere. This includes what you hear, smell, and feel. Plants often act as a tool to assert our personal space at its boundary with public space. This project hopes to bring these ideas together for visitors to experience new sensations within the urban setting.
Through MINI LIVING, the aesthetic pleasure of plants is combined with the ability to connect people. By creating a network of spaces, MINI hopes to transform the city, reinventing traditional domestic spaces into places that allow for people to live in new collective ways. The installations create the potential for informal spaces to encourage citizens to socialize and take part in communal activities. The installation will be available to the public from the 17th to the 25th of September, 2016.