Why the Marble Arch Mound is a slippery slope to nowhere

The artificial hill in central London seems a great idea, but it would be better to have done something that genuinely helped the environment The Torre Guinigi in Lucca, Italy, is a brick medieval tower – it’s handsome, but of a type common enough in historic Tuscan cities. What makes it special is a grove of holm oaks growing from its summit. Trees come with expectations, such that they are rooted in the ground, yet there they are, high in the air, apparently flourishing. The tower would be less interesting if it weren’t for the trees and the trees would be less interesting if it weren’t for the tower. So there’s something compelling about trees in unexpected places. Hence at least part of the appeal of the High Line in New York, where gardens grow on an old elevated railway line, and of the ski slope on top of the Amager Bakke power plant in Copenhagen. There’s been a thing for wrapping towers in vegetation in recent years. Little Island, the micro-park recently created by Thomas Heatherwick over the Hudson, has a similar well-I-never, Instagram-able impact. Continue reading...

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