A community-built public garden has opened in the City of London, offering free workshops and events to Londoners looking to learn more about sustainability.
Named after the Greek Goddess of Earth, Gaia’s Garden will provide a summer oasis in the heart of the City of London until September 2021 and is located at 61 Holborn Viaduct, in the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral.
As well as a place to socialise and relax, visitors to the garden can learn about sustainability through workshops, installations and performances, using art, fashion, and music to explore the relationship between humans and the natural world.
Award-winning creative studio Play Nice is spearheading the project in partnership with London-based property developer Dominvs Group to platform the ideas of the young people on The Pattern, a cultural incubator programme launched after Play Nice won the £50,000 Fusion Prize - a Culture Mile initiative, in partnership with Foundation for Future London - earlier this year.
Gaia’s Garden was conceptualised by five young female creatives from across fashion, graphic design, movement, music, and photography. Mentored by Noga-Levy Rapoport, an ambassador for the UK Student Climate Network, the group’s vision is to present sustainability through a more inclusive and feminist lens.
Over 200 young people from across the capital were recruited to help with everything from gardening, building, and curating a live events programme of workshops, talks and performances focused on climate change, sustainable practices and people.
Full programme details will be announced during Gaia’s Garden launch on Saturday 31st July and will be available online. The programme includes contributions from online education platform and community Climate in Colour, climate activists UK Student Climate Network UKSCN, Sound Advice - a London-based platform dedicated to tackling spatial inequality - and award-winning UK hip-hop dance company, Boy Blue.
The garden’s sustainable landscape was designed by urban transformation charity Urban Growth, with temporary structures made from material sourced from nearby construction sites. Once the project finishes, these temporary structures will be redistributed across London, finding continued use in local communities across the capital.
Across four days in May, volunteers helped to transform the city centre site made available by Dominvs Group into a thriving, verdant escape from the heat and noise of London, building planters, with flowers, shrubs, and trees, timber backdrops and breakout pods with layered pallets for seating, as well as erecting a stage that will host the live events programme this summer.
Nate Agbetu, co-founder of PlayNice, said: “Gaia’s Garden is a space for the community, by the community – to educate us all about sustainable practices - while we dance, learn and engage with one another. It’s a project that lives to level up Londoners and supports Culture Mile’s plan for a more inclusive, innovative and sustainable future for the Square Mile.”
Jay Ahluwalia, Director of Dominvs Group said: “Gaia’s Garden will be a positive contribution to the City after a year of restrictions and lockdowns. Many of us have been isolated and unable to enjoy the outdoors – either with friends or family, and the garden will be a space that facilitates learning and generates creativity.
“I am delighted this initiative supports the recommendations of the City of London Corporation's Recovery Taskforce in its ‘Square Mile: Future City’ report and shows how culture and commerce can work together to ensure the Square Mile is a better place for everyone to live, work and visit.”
Wendy Hyde, Chair of the Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee said:
“This innovative collaboration with Play Nice and Dominvs Group shows what can be achieved when culture and commerce work together. Gaia’s Garden, situated in our cultural district Culture Mile, showcases the transformative power of creativity – bringing together young people from different communities to create something bold and exciting that will rejuvenate and revitalise the City.”
Maria Adebowale-Schwarte, CEO, Foundation for Future London said: “Gaia’s Garden is a wonderful example of how commerce and culture can work hand in hand to rejuvenate the City’s public green spaces, while empowering young Londoners to gain new skills in producing, placemaking, and programming. The Foundation for Future London is pleased to see Play Nice’s innovative Fusion Prize-winning project flourish and grow from strength to strength through this valuable collaboration with Dominvs, and we can’t wait for Londoners to get involved in this new meanwhile initiative.”
Gaia’s Garden is part of the Lord Mayor’s Culture and Commerce Taskforce’s Enhancing the City initiative, which seeks to fill repurposed commercial spaces across the City with curated creative activity in order to animate the area and drive footfall. Chaired by the Lord Mayor of the City of London and led by the City of London Corporation and Culture Mile, the Culture and Commerce Taskforce will run a series of pilot projects as part of its Fuelling Creative Renewal report, published earlier this year.
For more information visit gaiasgarden.london.
Gaia’s Garden will be open to the public from 9am – 9pm everyday through summer.