essay in Lobby no. 2: a forest of experiences

'What do you see when you look up through the trees? Try to imagine this moment in a pretended place or part of a journey through a particular sequence of spaces. How does one describe this experience? What is it about spaces in nature, for example forests, which make them fascinating yet at the same time unsettling places to inhabit? A forest offers a place of refuge and natural beauty where the element of surprise is all part of the experience.

Often nature in architecture is something we experience on the periphery and regularly as something subversive; as an addition to a building once it is complete. Much of our world, particularly in the architecture discipline, fails to engage with the study of nature or forest environments on a spatial level, choosing to only consider nature as a mere dressing for the enhancement, or towards an aesthetic appreciation, of the built environment.

With the advent of cities and human inhabitation, the relationship between nature and the landscape with society is one that has been unequivocally broken down through the processes of city building. By continuing to colonise the planet we risk endangering and damaging the natural world from its supremacy to offer good health and opportunities for incredible spatial moments. Interestingly, however, is as we experience the decay and abandonment of contemporary cities, one of the most apparent transformations we witness is not just the obvious perception of neglect but more the reintegration of vegetation and natural ecologies. With negligence, grass will eventually grow.

The return of this phenomenon in contemporary society generates a misunderstanding of a heterogeneous space left in the wake of urban decay. Similar to the misconception of nature in architecture, we are left with spaces that have no clear definition and no real intention to be experienced spatially. So the question here is, how can we associate or change our understandings of the definition of a forest in this context? What kind of buildings, spaces or places can emerge from this?'

Extract from an essay 'A forest of experiences: Visualising space in nature' for Lobby 2 'Clairvoyance'