Tr(ee)logy is a series of temporary installations 'planted' in one or more sites across the city during the London 2012 Olympics, to rediscover and share London's invisible heritage of secrets, strange tales and forgotten stories. This is a city with an extraordinarily rich source of secrets and strange tales dating back centuries – sometimes the stories seem to vanish only to be rediscovered.
Trees, a symbol of strength and long-term sustainability, are traditionally planted in the UK and in many cultures to celebrate accomplishments, mark rites of passage or honor life; in this case they celebrate the Olympic event. Apart from presenting London's invisible heritage of stories, Tr(ee)logy functions as a gathering hub and meeting point. Walking around London, pedestrians can pause to discover the strange and forgotten tales etched on the installations.
Tr(ee)logy is a series of temporary installations 'planted' in one or more sites across the city during the London Olympic 2012, to rediscover and share London's invisible heritage of secrets, strange tales and forgotten stories. This is a city with an extraordinarily rich source of secrets and strange tales dating back centuries – sometimes the stories seem to vanish only to be rediscovered.
Although having no official powers, Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert influenced the cultural and physical landscape of London considerably. He was a champion of the Great Exhibition of 1851, which drew more than six million visitors to the capital and amassed a profit worth millions today. The profit was used towards Albert's wish to 'increase the means of industrial education and extend the influence of science and art'. Land was acquired in what is now South Kensington and the proceeds financed the establishment of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science and Natural History Museums, the Royal Albert Hall as well as the Royal Colleges of Art, Music and Imperial College. Informally, in acknowledgment of this significant influence, the area became known as Albertopolis.
Batty's Grand National Hippodrome
Catering to audiences attracted by the Great Exhibition of 1851, William Batty, a pioneer of equestrian and circus performances, opened an arena in Kensington Gardens in 1850. Batty hosted equestrian events for the paying public and also staged camel and ostrich races! Tragically, after Batty's opened for a second season in 1852, a balloon launch from the site nearly killed its occupants who narrowly avoided crashing into the Crystal Palace Exhibition and collided with a nearby mansion. Following this disaster, Batty decided to put an end to the sensational events he had hosted and the site functioned as a riding track until its demolition. The site is now a part of Kensington Gardens, though sadly no remnant of Batty's Hippodrome remains.
Boating to Knightsbridge
The Serpentine Lake in the centre of Hyde Park is one of London's best-loved landmarks, an artificial landscape feature commissioned by Queen Charlotte, keen botanist and nurse to her husband Mad King George. She had the River Westbourne dammed and excavated to make the splendid prospect we see today. The waterway descends from Hampstead Heath down through the Albert Gate, across Sloane Street station in a large pipe and into the Thames above Chelsea Bridge. On one occasion, the banks burst leaving parts of Knightsbridge and Belgravia under several feet of water for nearly a year. Thames watermen rowed Londoners from Chelsea up to Knightsbridge and beyond.
Trees, a symbol of strength and long-term sustainability, are traditionally planted in the UK and in many cultures to celebrate accomplishments, mark rites of passage or honor life; in this case they celebrate the London 2012 Olympics. Apart from presenting London's invisible heritage of stories, Tr(ee)logy functions as a gathering hub and meeting point. Walking around London, pedestrians can pause to discover the strange and forgotten tales etched on the installations.
Each Tr(ee)logy comprises two assemblies of 8.6 metres, and one of 6.1 metres in height. The installations are CNC (computer numeric control) routed plywood panels laminated with water-curing glue onto timber joists. The components are pre-fabricated and pre-assembled off-site. The design enables reversible dismantling process, and can be re-erected elsewhere without damage. The structures are ductile and can bend gradually under accidental impact. The designs only vary in height; the other components are completely identical. Each tree consists of three sections; the steel structure, the crown and the lace box.
The Steel Structure: This consists of the base, the stiffener plates and the steel CHS (circular hollow section). These are all manufactured off-site and will be the contractor's responsibility to transport onto site for erection. This structural core will not damage existing site surface and pavement; no structural foundation is required.
The Crown: The crowns of the installations are covered with pictograms of leaves and a selection of London landmarks. The installations are painted black in color apart from the crown and the stories in white. Two CNC routed plywood sheets will sandwich timber joists of varying dimensions forming the sandwiched panel. Four sandwiched panels and a steel cruciform make up the crown. The panels are pre-fabricated off-site and transported with a rig to protect them from damage.
The Lace Box: Three black boxes will be pre-fabricated offsite. The 'trunk' box will conceal steel stiffener plates. A lace pattern of various London icons will be glued and screwed over the trunk along with the stories. These boxes will be fabricated in two halves for ease of transportation and on site assembly. The rustic finish of the plywood box is contrasted and laced with a series of MDF London landmarks pictograms.
First, a cherry picker and a mobile crane will be erected on site. The procedure for the installation of the three trees will then start with the steel core, followed by the crown and, finally, with the black 'lace' box going around the structure. When assembled, the structure will be wiped down to remove any marks and touched up with paint if necessary.
A brief site-closure will allow the pre-assembled components to be set up and the three structures installed in quick succession. At the end of the installation service, the structures will be dismantled and removed as when it was delivered. The assembly method will ensure minimal environmental impact and negligible disturbance to the surrounding site.
The Steel Structure: The largest steel plate will be laid over a cork mat for levelling. The smaller plates will be placed on top and fillet welded together. The stem will then be unloaded and lifted into position within the prefabricated stiffener plates. Steel wedges will be hammered in between the stiffener plates and steel CHS to assure the column remains in position through the installation period.
The Crown: The panels will be transported onto site and the contractor will be in charge of providing a temporary rig that will allow the panels to be bolted onto the steel cruciform. The mobile crane will lift the assembled crown into position.
The Lace Box: The lace box halves will arrive on site. Each box will fit around the tree of respective height. The boxes will be simply screwed together. The cheery picker will be used to reach the top of the box. A wooden collar will be screwed into place to both seal the box and to provide a second layer of stability for the freestanding boxes. In the case where the boxes are sitting unevenly on the steel base, timber wedges would be used to level the boxes.
Maintenance and Security
For the duration of the display, the structures are maintenance-free. The installations are also designed to withstand vandalism, anti-social behaviours and minimal security risks to public. The heights to the crown are not reachable even in a 'one man piggy back another' situation. The design has no undesirable areas/surfaces for hiding devices.
CJ Lim (UCL + Studio 8 Architects Ltd) and Matthew Wells (Techniker Ltd) with Samson Lau, Krzysztof Marcinkiewicz, Steven McCloy, Savan Patel, John Yu Wei Chang, Eric Wong, Martin Tang and Colin Hayward (KMCS London)
Special thanks to:
Yeoryia Manolopoulou, Daniel Fraser (ICON), George Paraskevopoulos (Greater London Authority), Cliff Chapman Metalworks, Emmanuel Vercruysse, Justin Goodyer, CNC Workshop London, Kevin Jones, and John Riley
South Kensington tube station forecourt, London SW7 2NB.