When Somerset House was built 250 years ago, the architects banned planting trees in the central courtyard, but this summer trees will fill the space.

The thinking behind the original ban being that tall trees distract from the decoration on the buildings, and the courtyard should be sunny rather than shady.

Today we’d find that an odd approach, and there would be trees in the space, so for the month of June, as part of the London Design Biennale trees will be allowed into the courtyard. This temporary forest of 400 trees will be made from 23 varieties typical of those found across the UK and Northern Europe. They’ll be in pots to avoid damaging the paving, and the public will be able to wander through the space.

Now if only the delivery of the trees was set to a performance of Macbeth, we could have the march of Birnam forest as a live performance.

(c) London Design Biennale

Taking over Somerset House, both inside and outside, the 2021 Biennale programme includes Forest for Change, The Global Goals Pavilion, aims to promote awareness of the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable
Development.

The festival runs from 1st to 27th June at Somerset House.

This year, the London Design Biennale will have a one-way route, and timed ticketing with a set capacity. Tickets can be booked here.

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3 comments
  1. Melvyn says:

    Perhaps when they have finished with them they could pass them on to HS2 to plant along its route ….. !

  2. Dave Lindop says:

    Good idea Melvyn, if they plant them underground it should give the roots a head start.

  3. Stuart Smith says:

    The fountains in Somerset House are a wonderful oasis of peace in the middle of the city, a much-loved space for adults to relax in and where children can play safely. Every closure of the fountains is a loss of amenity for London’s citizens.

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