Festival of Neighbourhood, South Bank, London #1


I was in London recently for work, and hung about after my course to meet a friend for a cuppa and a catch up. As I was ready early, I had a wander over to the South Bank to have a look round. Immediately after heading up the steps from the Waterloo side of Festival Hall, it was impossible to miss this mobile forest.


This exhibition is ‘Octavia’s Orchard’ by What If:Projects and it aims to tackle a lack of green-space in urban neighbourhoods by going back to the past and looking forward to the future.

Addressing these issues over 100 years ago, National Trust founder Octavia Hill stressed that ‘tenants and all urban workers should have access to open spaces… Places to sit in, places to play in, places to stroll in, and places to spend a day in.’
Today, many housing estate neighbourhoods in inner city London are based on the principles of the garden city, where multi-storey housing blocks are surrounded by generous areas of green space. Whilst full of potential, these areas are often neglected and left unused, rather than much needed spaces for recreation and play.
For the Festival of Neighbourhood, What If:Projects directly link these neighbourhood community estates to the urban green space on Festival Terrace.
Over 30 chamberlain galvanised steel street bins, typically used in multi-storey housing developments, have become adoptive homes of three-metre high fruit trees and meadows, forming an orchard along this busy commuter walk – softening the concrete and glass exteriors to create shaded and inviting seating areas.*


Local communities could bid to have some of the ‘forest’ planted in their community once the exhibition ends. This was a fantastic example of the sort of collaborative art/architecture project I love.


Just think what a forward thinking lady Octavia Hill was. I imagine back in 1877 she was well ahead of her time, what a fascinating woman. One to add to the fantasy dinner party list, I think!


The festival goes on until the end of September and Octavia’s Orchard will be there until 8 September when it will move on to a new home. To find out more, check out the website here or take a visit to see for yourself.

*Information taken from the official website

2 thoughts on “Festival of Neighbourhood, South Bank, London #1

  1. Hello, I have recently blogged about the same festival at Southbank but I guess about the other side of it, as it were. I did not see these bins hosting trees and plants but they look impressive! We walked near the Sweepers, the planted barrows, and then the Queen’s windows gardens.

    Interesting that I am just finishing a blog on Octavia Hill and how she was a champion of green spaces in London, and pioneered turning disused graveyards into public gardens. She is an impressive woman, definitely.
    Nice to come across your blog.

    • Thanks for your comment, the festival seemed so interesting. I’ll have to have a read of your post on Octavia Hill, she sounds such a fascinating woman. x

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