Posted: 14 May 2013
Street Orchard by Between Bricks
Visitors to this year’s Chelsea Fringe festival will get the chance to imagine an alternative future for some of London’s most unlikely sites.
Designers from New London Landscape schemes the Lido Line, Street Orchard, Retracing London’s Drovers’ Roads and Old Street Garden are offering visitors guided walks around the forgotten spaces that inspired them. They promise to be unlike your typical city tour, focusing instead on revealing the city's green underbelly in places you might least expect to find it.
Now in its second year, the Chelsea Fringe was founded by landscape author Tim Richardson as an alternative to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where anything goes "as long as it’s interesting and legal, and on the subject of gardens, flowers, veg-growing or landscape”.
Laura Rowland, who together with Claire Beard designed Street Orchard, believes grassroots festivals such as the Chelsea Fringe are important for fostering people-focused projects with an “an emphasis on doing, rather than just talking, which encourages people to act”.
Street Orchard, which will follow the route 55 bus from Old Street station taking in Hackney City Farm en route to Haggerston Park, will look at the history of Hackney’s green spaces and new methods for bringing green space to the streets. Rowland’s own designs look at how fruit trees can be planted at bus stops with self-sustaining systems, whereby bus shelter roofs are adapted with sedum roofs to catch falling fruit, collect rainwater for the tree and reduce surface run-off.
Rowland and Beard hope to build a prototype of Street Orchard in time for Open House this September. “This would then have the potential to be rolled out along bus routes in low-cost, low-tech models,” she says. “We would then be able to facilitate fundraising, permissions and training - or the plans could be released as open-source instruction packs.”
For David Lomax and Alex Smith, the design duo behind the Lido Line, the Chelsea Fringe provides an opportunity to share with the public parts of the city they might not ordinarily go to. “The power of association that these events have gives visitors confidence to engage with these other worlds,” says Lomax. “Regent’s Park and Mile End Park are just as good as one another, it's just there's never been a train of thought to connect them, just a canal.”
Lomax and Smith’s Exploring the Lido Line will start at the newly revamped City Road Basin and take in a few of London's lesser known but no less spectacular green open spaces, such as Victoria Park and Mile End Park. The walk will reveal pockets of vibrant bustling activity and redevelopment around Broadway Market, as well as sections of underused and unprogrammed open space where the duo imagine the Lido Line stops could exist.
“Why do we need a new thing when we've got plenty of great things that are underused?,” Lomax says. “Surely, rather than spending lots of money, energy and materials on one new space, we should find a way of revitalising the ones we already have! The purpose of the Lido Line was as much to reveal these brilliant existing spaces by connecting them with a new function, as it was about proposing something new in itself.”
In the City of London meanwhile, designers of Retracing London's Drovers' Roads Howard Miller and Rowena Hay, will describe how they envisage transforming the network of ancient routes originally used to move livestock from pasture to market into new green infrastructure. Over at Old Street Underground station, designer Ben Mailen will be encouraging visitors to rethink how this stranded roundabout space could become part of the action.
Street Orchard will be the final walk on 9 June, with the three other walks taking place a week earlier on 25 May. Full details on how to find each of the New London Landscape walks are available on the Chelsea Fringe website at: