Organic architecture - 11 best buildings

The Mobile Orchard:
Location: portable
Architect: Atmos
Completed: 2013

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Picture: © Alex Haw

'Trees are constantly hovering in the consciousness of any architect. They're both our nemesis - how the hell do they do that? we wonder - and our saviour - the camouflage we plant when buildings go wrong.'

This is how Alex Haw, principal at atmos, describes the genesis of the Mobile Orchard, a project that toured London and examined how the natural forms of trees could be used to create street furniture.

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Picture: © Alex Haw

Reporting on the project at the time, Blueprint's Herbert Wright wrote: Atmos are masters of crafting spaces and structures with digital woodcutting, and for the Mobile Orchard, they used 4mm planes of Latvian birch (sponsored by DHH Timber). The branches spread out in one direction particularly, as if in a wind, and the two-metre-odd cantilver is counterweighted by the base of roots. A special touch for the City festival was the inclusion of white leaves in the shape of every London borough, cut from priplak, a polypropylene.

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Picture: © Alex Haw

'Like the best trees, Mobile Orchard is climbable. Its shape includes nine smooth, sculpted steps, and it carries on an atmos record of previous inhabitable sculptures that have travelled as far as Hong Kong. What about the fruit? Apples were placed in its branches in the City, requiring constant replenishment by Festival crew as office types, lured by the sensual, curvy installation, took them. Really, it would be a sin not to.'

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Picture: © Alex Haw

Alex Haw again: 'We endowed it with sprawling street-furniture roots and spiralling branches that radiated to offer a concealed stairway that leads past various seating niches to a sky-throne. Its limbs offered real apples for hungry mouths, and a scatter of waste-less 'London leaves' - tiled components laser-cut in the shape of the surrounding boroughs.'

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