Inspiration

Floating Recycled Park – The First Park Installed

The first Floating Recycled Park was opened in Rotterdam (next to the site of the Bobbing Forest we wrote about). The structural modules of the park are made of reclaimed and recycled plastic trash. The structures are filled with growing medium with various plants and connected together to form beautiful floating parks.

”The aim of this iconic Recycled Park is to illustrate that recycled plastic from the open waters is a valuable material and suitable for recycling. By re-using the retrieved plastics and by producing building blocks with them, the plastics receives new value. As an extra the building blocks create a new green area; Recycled Park. Floating green structures are a plus for the city and have an ecological function in the river as habitat for micro and macro fauna as snails, flatworms, larva, beetles and fish.”

Looks really interesting! Hopefully the process of recycling the plastic is not too energy and chemical intensive as it sometimes can be. But the whole process of collecting the problem inducing trash from the environment and turning it to something that provides a positive platform for local ecology, is certainly beautiful. I do hope to see more of these installed! Read more at Recycled Park.

Found via Treehugger

The Beetle – A Film by Henrik Håkansson

Today we saw the premiere of an astonishing film called The Beetle (Hylochares cruentatus) by Henrik Håkansson. The film focuses on halavasepikkä (Hylochares cruentatus), an endangered beetle that lives exclusively in Mätäoja river area in Vantaa, Finland. The film combines studio shots and on site scenery shots into an intriguing journey. Some of the studio shots of the beetle are agonisingly slow, but in the hypnotically slow motion lies also the greatness of the film. The beautiful visuals are complemented by an immersive audio track and a spectacular music score by electronic music genius Mika Vainio.

The film is now available online at YLE Areena, be sure to watch and remember to crank up the volume!

Thank you to Kone Foundation and IHME festival for the invitation to the premiere!

Balcony Gardening Time!

The exceptional warmth in May has given a good kick-start for our balcony garden. Peas and chives are already well on their way to our dinner table. Unfortunately the strong early spring sunshine was too much for our balcony apple tree, but maybe we’ll plant a new one. We are yet to see how our carrots, peppers, corn, lemons, various herbs and local meadow plants will flourish but the start has been fantastic!

What a plant knows

What a Plant Knows by Daniel Chamovitz

I just finished reading a very interesting book called What a Plant Knows by Daniel Chamovitz. The author, a genetics Ph.D. and the Dean of George S.Wise Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Tel Aviv, sheds fascinating insight into the various senses and the memory of plants. Chamovitz does not try to make plants look like humans but focuses on known facts and research on the subject. Still, he manages to mesmerise the reader by describing the research processes and the amazing results. After reading the book I am once again more in awe of the ingenious nature we live in.

Floating Islands in Copenhagen

Marshall Blecher and Magnus Maarbjerg are creating a archipelago of floating islands in Copenhagen, the Copenhagen Islands. The first one is CPH-Ø1, a wooden platform and a linden tree. Eventually the archipelago will grow to include floating swimming platforms, stages, parks and a floating garden. For winter, the islands can me moved closer together to form a larger recreational area. It will be really interesting to see how the islands evolve!

BEEcosystem Observation Honeybee Hive

BEEcosystem is a modular observation honeybee hive you can easily install outdoors or indoors. This wonderful system lets you observe the honey bees at work, tending their babies. It would be really interesting to install one of these on our balcony and watch the buzz and bustle. It could also spice up the biosphere in your neighborhood by providing habitat for the important pollinators. Be sure to support BEEcosystem on Indiegogo!

Chameleon Building Changes Color With the Seasons

This apartment building in Helsinki beautifully changes color with the seasons, thanks to the virginia creeper plant that grows on the south facade. In the summer the building is covered with lush green leaves and in the fall the color changes to screaming red. In the winter the actual beige facade shows through since the leaves have fallen off. This colourful play affects the atmosphere of the whole area in a properly biophilic manner!

Asfalttiviidakot

Asphalt Jungles – A dive into urban nature

The excellent documentary series Asfalttiviidakot (Asphalt Jungles) by the director Petteri Saario & DocArt are now available as a free stream at Yle Areena (Finnish only). Be sure to watch all episodes as they all have different perspectives to urban nature!

”We drink killed water and eat killed food, we breath urban killed air and we touch killed asphalt and concrete.” – Tari Haahtela, award winning allergy researched, professor emeritus

Artificial Microclimates – Zaryadye Park by DS+R

The Diller Scofidio + Renfro design for the new Zaryadye Park in Moscow aims to bring tundra, forest, steppe and wetlands to the city. This is done by creating artificial microclimates for each landscape topology. Wind, temperature and daylight are regulated in order to create zones for these microclimates.

The designers also talk about ”wild urbanism” which aims to create a ”raw interface between buildings and landscape”. The park has a paving system that gradually changes between completely paved and completely natural. Blurring the boundaries of wild and tamed, built and natural, is certainly an intriguing notion. It will be very interesting see the park and its different layers in action when the construction is completed later this year.

Moving Indoors

The fall has arrived here in Finland and the outdoor growing season is almost over. Now it’s a good time to start new experiments with indoor plants.

We built a small glass jar moss terrarium by collecting a couple of small moss patches. We also placed a Tillandsia epiphyte in another small jar, no soil needed. It will be interesting to see if and how these will survive through the winter.

The Green Train – The Turntable by Dodo

The environmental organization Dodo has built an interesting urban farming laboratory called Turntable on top of an old train turntable in Pasila, Helsinki. The Turntable has a greenhouse, an urban farm, a cafe and even a bouldering wall. The Turntable hosts all sorts of open events from urban farming workshops to punk concerts. Places like this really make cities worth living in. Let’s hope the city is clever enough to not destroy it when central Pasila is redeveloped in the near future.

Hiding Behind the Leaves – The Growroom

At this year’s Helsinki Design Week we stumbled into this mesmerizingly green urban hideaway. The Growroom is designed by SPACE 10 and architects Sine Lindholm and Mads-Ulrik Husum. The structure of the Growroom consists of 17 sheets of plywood that are CNC-cut to form and connected by wood joints and metal screws. On top of this wooden structure you can start your urban farm. The Growroom can also be used as an urban meeting place. And the best part is that since the design is open source, you can easily build one yourself by following these instructions.

The installation and its luscious plants certainly brought a fresh breath of life to the sealed stone & concrete street of Keskuskatu. It was really nice to sit and relax for a while surrounded by all the beautiful plants. It would be nice to see biopods like this invading the whole city!

Nature For All Senses – The Sensory Garden in Kaisaniemi

Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden in Helsinki has a wonderful Sensory Garden that is well worth a visit. The garden features a wealth of plants you can look at, smell, touch and taste. And the best thing is, it’s free for everyone!

There are specific zones for each sense, for instance in touch zone you have a wide range of plants from velvety soft lamb’s ear to pointy junipers. There’s even a bare foot path to tickle your toes and a rock path to practice your balance. And although there was no zone for hearing, you could certainly enjoy the sound of dozens of bumblebees and flies buzzing around.

Places like this are really essential in urban areas where people don’t have many places for interacting with the nature. Visiting a garden like this is relaxing, educational and most of all, a lot of fun!