PROJECT DESCRIPTION OUR SUNFLOWER COMMONS - a temporary and site specific installation in City Garden, Garfield Park, Chicago, US & around the world. Proposal for The Official Danish Contribution at the Chicago Architecture Biennial 2019 By COLORCLOUDSTUDIO & ARUP
OUR SUNFLOWER COMMONS
Thousands of blooming sunflowers greets the sun while attracting the flow of visitors.
People enter the field to explore the circular agoras and activities inside. Around the world people gathers in similar homegrown sunflower fields. In the beautiful spaces defined by sunflowers and the sky - connected - they share visions of a sustainable global society, seeking new ways forward to nature, in the landscape of Jens Jensen, and in the footsteps of Humboldt.
EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED
When exploring the world in the beginning of the 19th century, Alexander von Humboldt discovered that Everything is connected. He, and many after him, saw the world as one great living organism; John Ruskin, William Morris/Arts & Crafts, Henry David Thoreau, The Prairie School and the creator of Garfield Park Jens Jensen, among others. In the industrial age, this discovery of connectedness seemed to be forgotten. Today, even though it´s well-known - and highly bodily experienced in climate changing - that we are a part of one universal ecosystem, and UN17 goals are launched, it still seems to be ignored in the mainstream - politics, sciences, businesses and in our daily “household” in our modern society. The lack of sustainability and the derivative effects as social and cultural segregation, inequality and poverty,is still a major problem worldwide. And often anxiety, fear and discouragement are the trigger and fellow feelings of actions and initiatives taken. Our kids shouldn´t grow up in a period of pessimism. Luckily, something is cooking…
FORWARD TO NATURE, TOGETHER
Revolutionary economic ideas like Kate Raworths Doughnut economics is evolving; cross-disciplinary research and development is increasing, and most important: people all over the world begin to act in their everyday environment. Architecture plays a major role in this development, materializing ideas and generating movements. We can use this climate-crisis, and the lack of social, environmental and economic sustainability as a driving force to (re-)establish a balance. The means is feeling the presence of commons and the power of community. Architecture is a tool. So, we think it´s “don´t tell it, show it and feel it”- time. Time to (re)discover our strength, to redevelop a symbiosis with our eco-system. To travel forward to nature, together. As Jens Jensen “…was a reformer with his hands on a spade and his head in the clouds” we intend to do the same: in our contribution we use the human sensuous system, the aesthetic experience, as the primary element. Despite language, culture, and age, we all know the feeling of walking in a field under the open sky.
CONSTRUCTING OUR SUNFLOWER COMMONS
Using the natural site specific common resources and digital environment – the local soil and native seeds, recycled materials and the world wide web - we wish to create an engaging platform for making, experiencing, sharing and release the positive stories, ideas and power of commons and communities. The installation consists of 3 elements/types of fields: local, global and distributed digital network. The main building material is soil, water, sun, seeds from the mid-west American native plant Helianthus – Sunflower, the distributed digital global network and peoples hearts and minds. In the following we describe the project and the process:
1: The Garfield Park Sunflower Field, CAB 2019. A huge field of sunflowers covers the oval area in the local City Garden. The plants are seeded in beautiful Fibonacci-curves, and will reach a height of 3-4 meters. Inside the field, there are two circular Agoras, functioning as open outdoor assembly rooms furnished with curved benches in reused material. An inviting space where thoughts, dialogues and stories will unfold. The agoras can be accessed from different paths – all following the under laying Fibonacci-curved structure. The paths and the agoras are partially paved using reused local stone and bricks. The natural sunflowers are accompanied by several 4-5 meter tall solarpowerflowers, providing artificial light in the agoras and paths, and randomly inside the field. The installation is thereby independent of the existing electric system in Garfield Park, as recommended in guidelines. The soil is prepared and plants are seeded and kept by local professional landscapers, and if possible, we engage volunteers from the local communities in the making process. The solarpowerflowers are developed in DK as prototypes for a new kind of local lighting.The public will through the exhibition period experience different stages in the seasons and the cycles of the plants. A vital part of the experience of this living installation, which appearance depends on local context, is the seasonal weather and climate conditions. In the beginning blooming green and yellow, later deep dark brown and withered flower heads with visible seeds in beautiful Fibonacci curves.
2: Your Sunflower Field Citizens around the world from schoolkids to elderly people, institutions and organizations will be invited to participate, contribute and connect to OUR SUNFLOWER COMMONS-installation at Chicago Architecture Biennial 2019, by growing their own Sunflower Fields in their neighbourhood, playgrounds, cityparks and so on. A homegrown distributed network in the shape of Sunflower Fields in all sizes will pop up around the planet, as visual landmarks and platforms for sharing visions and ideas, connecting communities globally according to the overall curatorial statement “…and other stories”. These local “city-gardeners” will activate their sunflower fields, and share pictures and stories from their locality. The aim is to explore the power of nature, connectivity, and to build strong communities across nations, religions and cultures.
3: Digital Sunflower Field Fields, people and ideas will be connected and shared by social media. Citizens, networks and communities will be invited to join and follow the digital platform of OUR SUNFLOWER COMMONS-installation, to co-create content for the platform. It can be done with existing media as Instagram or, if funding succeeds, an application designed for the occasion.
OUTRO This is what art and architecture can do – structure space, time and material in relation to a context in all its meanings, in order to fulfill a purpose; in this case interpreting the theme “Commons and Communities”, considering sustainability as a challenge and a tool. Our contribution is both a physical and digital engaging installation, which interact with the public, the community in and around the park, as well as globally, in a productive and rewarding relation. We see the Chicago Architecture Biennial 2019, and its curatorial statement “…and other stories” experiencing and exploring relationships between nature, society, and the built environment as a great opportunity and platform to pay attention to, and speed up what is already happening. As Jens Jensen, we do also believe in the renewing and civilizing powers of nature. And we seek, with this contribution to: Bring us all a bit forward to nature by connecting places + people + planet + purpose in an aesthetic, engaging and empowering common happening. Our proposal for the contribution, an architectural installation and a sustainable society birth-helper, is built on, and promoting the best of our Danish community-tradition “Højskole, Andelsbevægelser, Kolonihaver…”
PARTICIPANTS COLORCLOUDSTUDIO, ARUP Cph, local and global organizations and citizens. Supply, delivery and advice from local landscaper in Chicago.