Plants Beds

By Ryan Roark

Connection to Harringay Warehouse District

The project is a formal reference to the former Kensington Museum, now the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. The Kensington Museum was an early industrial prefabricated building leveraged as an exhibition space. This project proposes a return to the marriage of (bio)industrial technology and community entertainment and culture.

Proposal Outline

Plants Beds proposes a versatile pavilion made of repurposed materials appropriate to the formerly industrial neighborhood of Harringay Warehouse District—mattress springs, construction scaffolding, and industrial plastic. These materials are assembled to create an exhibition and event space where neighbors can come together for games, exercise, farmers’ markets, garden parties, and more.

Nighttime gatherings are lit by colonies of photoreactive algae embedded in the bioplastic sheets, which also contain planting pockets for growing herbs and other small plants. The sheets slide along the scaffolding to create three loose bays which can be reconfigured as needed.

The pavilion evokes the form and materiality of early prefabricated buildings, like the Crystal Palace or the Kensington Museum (shown at right), which now sits in Bethnal Green as the V&A Museum of Childhood. These Victorian exhibition spaces brought people together to learn about new cultures and technologies; Plant Beds encourages visitors to learn about their ecosystem and about new biological technologies.

The pavilion itself is envisioned as a biological assemblage, like the porous cellulose wall of the plant cell which permits easy circulation but also provides the structure for more specific organization of space and bodies, in the form of the bioplastic membranes. The connective tissues between the scaffold and the membranes are the repurposed spring mattresses (a product which is rarely recycled), which act like an extracellular matrix allowing a variety of attachments and uses.

Ultimately, Plant Beds celebrates the industrial heritage of Harringay and the surrounds, as well as their potential role in a new, smaller-scale technological revolution.