Forest for Change

Interactive installation showcases the UN’s Global Goals in a forest of 400 trees

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 13 June 2021

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Main image: Ed Reeve

Until 27 June 2021, Forest for Change – The Global Goals Pavilion invites visitors to discover the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, a plan adopted by all UN member states in 2015 to end poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change by 2030.

A forest soundscape

As visitors walk through Forest for Change, their journey will be enhanced by the sound of birdsong, curated by Brian Eno, including recordings from the British Library Sound Archive.

At the heart of the Forest, a central clearing will reveal a pavilion consisting of 17 mirrored pillars, representing the Global Goals. They will bring to life why the Goals are the world’s To Do List for people and planet through inspiring quotes and facts about the world we live in.

At the end of their journey – at the 17th pillar, representing Partnerships for the Goals – visitors will be invited to choose the Goal they feel most passionate about and to record a short message expressing the change they wish to see in the world.

This message will be instantly added to a generative music installation composed by Robert M Thomas that will be played back in the central clearing.

Visitors will receive an audio-visual digital file of their recording and a photo as a reminder of their visit. Their contribution will become part of ‘Voices for Change’, a collaboration with the Google Arts & Culture Lab that will bring together the voices and passions of people from across the world in support of the Global Goals.

Relocating the Forest’s trees

The Forest is created from 400 juvenile trees that have been individually selected for their differing canopy shapes, heights and forms, with the majority being sourced from one of the UK’s leading tree growers.

To highlight the condition of trees in the urban environments due to climate change, a diverse range of 27 nursery-grown species has been selected with the aim of ensuring future resilience to the changing London environment. This includes many favourite common species such as Scots pine, hazel and silver birch.

After the trees have graced the Somerset House courtyard, they will be donated to London boroughs as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy, a unique tree-planting initiative which encourages everyone to Plant a Tree for the Jubilee.

The trees will be stored and replanted during the official planting season which begins in October. Southwark and Islington are two of the London boroughs that will receive the trees, creating a living durable legacy for the forest.

When Somerset House was built, greenery was specifically forbidden, in line with the urban design principles of the time.

When planning this year’s Biennale, Es Devlin wanted to counter the attitude of human dominance over nature, creating a magnificent green landscape and centrepiece in Somerset House’s courtyard, and an opportunity to connect with nature.

Forest for Change design

The outdoor experience has been designed by leading international artist and designer, and artistic director of the Biennale, Es Devlin, in collaboration with landscape designer Philip Jaffa and urban greening specialists Scotscape.

It is presented in partnership with Project Everyone, a not-for-profit agency founded by Richard Curtis, Kate Garvey and Gail Gallie to further awareness and engagement with the Global Goals.

The project has received specialist support from John Cullen Lighting, Autograph sound and Corticeira Amorim. Production for the Forest has been supervised by Sustainable Production specialists Beautiful Wonder.

A carbon-positive project

Significant resources and expertise have been committed to produce the Forest for Change sustainably. Materials have been sourced through sustainable supply chains and nearly all will be reused, recycled or regenerated as biofuel.

The project will be carbon positive, planting sufficient trees to offset its actual carbon footprint three times over, after the Biennale.

Forest for Change – The Global Goals Pavilion joins participants from around the world, across six continents, at this year’s London Design Biennale, responding to Es Devlin’s theme ‘Resonance,’ which considers ground-breaking design concepts on the way we live, and the choices we make, exploring issues from the pandemic and climate change, equality to migration, through international collaboration, policy making and communication.

Participating Pavilions include: African Diaspora, Antarctica, Argentina, Austria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, New York City, Nile Region, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Taiwan, The Global Goals Pavilion, Venezuela.

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