Assemble To Reconfigure Granary Square Into A Wintery Landscape

Fleeting Forest, a festive installation in Granary Square, King's Cross

Granary Square in King’s Cross will be transformed into a compelling winter landscape, unveiling its latest annual installation, ‘Fleeting Forest’. In collaboration with Turner Prize-winning collective Assemble and Local Works Studio, the installation promises to intrigue visitors until February 2024.

Embracing the seasonality of the winter woodland, Fleeting Forest stands apart from traditional festive installations. Comprising 36 living trees, the exhibit weaves a tapestry of bare branches, fallen leaves, and the ambience of a winter forest. The collaborative effort incorporates the creative minds of Studio Dekka, A-swarm, Webb Yates, and Central Saint Martins.

Designed as an intimate square within a square, the installation uses nursery-grown trees, pine and birch saplings from Ashdown Forest, and various plant species commonly found on commons. The structure, supported by straw bale walls and chestnut fencing, creates a human-scale clearing warmly lit during the night and gloomy days, casting a soft glow against the surrounding buildings.

Accompanying the visual spectacle is a sound piece by Cameron Bray, providing a sensory journey for visitors. The immersive experience captures the trees’ odyssey from a nursery near London to the heathland wilderness of Ashdown Forest and finally to their urban home at Bramcote Park.

What sets Fleeting Forest apart is its commitment to positive impacts beyond the installation. The selection of “wonky” nursery trees, challenging to sell due to unusual shapes or markings, challenges conventional norms. Additionally, saplings and ground cover plants were sourced during habitat creation to conserve Ashdown Forest, emphasizing sustainability.

Upon the installation’s conclusion in February 2024, the specimen trees will find a new home in Bramcote Park, enhancing the public space and contributing to biodiversity. The remaining plants will be distributed to community gardens and schools around King’s Cross.

Fleeting Forest serves as a visual spectacle and an open-air seminar room for architecture students from Central Saint Martins. It provides a platform for discussing woodland habitats and their potential to build a regenerative, greener urban environment.

Assemble Collective, and Local Works Studio expresses their hope that Fleeting Forest showcases the positive impacts a temporary installation can have on communities and environments. The project seamlessly connects ongoing initiatives related to our interaction with natural landscapes within and outside London.

Chrissy Cullen, Place Marketing Director at King’s Cross, emphasized the ongoing commitment to bring thought-provoking and interactive winter installations to Granary Square. With its unique blend of aesthetics and environmental consciousness, Fleeting Forest promises visitors an opportunity to sit, contemplate, and appreciate the changing seasons in the city’s heart.

Assemble, a London-based collective, has emerged as a trailblazer in art, design, and architecture. Formed in 2010, this innovative group defies conventional boundaries, seamlessly blending creativity with a commitment to community engagement.

Founded by 18 members with diverse backgrounds, including architecture, design, and art, Assemble challenges the traditional hierarchical structure of creative practices. Their collaborative approach emphasizes shared decision-making, fostering a dynamic and inclusive environment.

Assemble gained widespread recognition for their transformative work in Granby Four Streets, Liverpool. Their innovative revitalization project, initiated in collaboration with residents, turned a neglected neighborhood into a vibrant community space. This success catapulted them into the spotlight, earning them the prestigious Turner Prize in 2015, a testament to their impactful contributions to contemporary art and urban regeneration.

The collective’s projects often involve repurposing existing spaces and breathing new life into forgotten or overlooked areas. Their approach goes beyond aesthetics; it seeks to address social, economic, and environmental challenges, creating spaces that resonate with the communities they serve.

Assemble’s commitment to sustainable and socially conscious design has led to collaborations with various organizations and institutions. Their work often involves repurposing materials, engaging local artisans, and incorporating community input into the creative process.

From temporary installations to long-term regeneration projects, Assemble continues pushing conventional artistic practices’ boundaries. Their ethos revolves around the idea that art and architecture should be accessible and inclusive and contribute meaningfully to the communities they inhabit.

In a world where creativity meets social responsibility, Assemble stands as a beacon, showcasing the transformative power of collective action and the boundless possibilities that emerge when diverse talents converge with a shared vision.

Top Photo: Fleeting Forest, the latest in King’s Cross’ annual winter installation series on Granary Square, features 36 warmly-lit living trees that embrace the seasonality of the winter woodland with ambient sound pieces. Designed in collaboration between Assemble and Local Works Studio. Photography by John Sturrock

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