London Design Biennale 2021; Kingston Cycle Hub – reviews

Somerset House, London; Kingston upon Thames The lofty words on sustainability from designers from around the world in London are given more concrete form further up the Thames First, let me defend a dead white man. The 18th-century architect William Chambers was not, as the designer Es Devlin suggests, a tree-hater. He designed Kew Gardens, wrote treatises on gardening and said that “gardeners, like poets, should give a loose to their imagination and even fly beyond the bounds of truth”. He may or may not have been reprehensible in other ways, for example when he was an employee of the Swedish East India Company, but on the charge of arboriphobia he is innocent. It’s true that he didn’t want any trees in the imposing classical courtyard of Somerset House in London, which he designed, a fact that has provoked Devlin to install a temporary Forest for Change, the centrepiece of the London Design Biennale. Four hundred trees have been installed, which will later be permanently planted in London boroughs. Here, you can wander its winding paths and hear birdsong from round the world, part of a soundtrack by Brian Eno. The project has been realised with the support of the film-maker Richard Curtis and has some of the feelgood vibe of Love Actually and Notting Hill. Continue reading...

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