Radical New Slant on Cityscapes from French Design Duo Bouroullec Brothers - Urban Daydreaming

Feature Story

HKDI is proudly showcasing a collection of urban development scenarios in the Asian debut of Urban Daydreaming — conceived by the world-renowned French design duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec — the exhibition is a wide-ranging study of possible urban development solutions for cities that may be imagined in very different urban settings.

A significant number of ideas were produced over the course of a year. From this intense research, 14 proposals were selected and turned into detailed study models. These spontaneously developed projects highlight the need to bring natural forms back into the city: plants, animals, water and fire. The concept behind the majority of these ideas is rooted in the way that Nature interacts with the city.

The scenarios take into consideration urban functions and suggest a new direction in the relationship between buildings, the quality of a pavement, the positioning of a fountain, the planting of a jungle: all human considerations that would make the city a place of enchantment.

Urban Daydreaming is an exhibition of the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany in cooperation with Les Champs Libres in Rennes, France, and runs from 27 October till 17 February, 2019 at the Hong Kong Design Institute.

01. Hanging Forest (Top banner)
© Studio Bouroullec

This proposal embodies a meeting of opposites. The Hanging Forest is characterised by the unique relationship between the static and artificial nature of the masts and platforms in contrast with the movement and vivacity of the plants and trees. Like a pergola, it depicts both a path and a protected, well-ventilated space. The plants recreate the pleasant, fresh shade of forests. Analogous to the storeys of a building, Nature rises upwards. The discs form a second level where the plants work together and intertwine, like a metaphor for contemporary networks.

02. Platforms (Left)
© Studio Bouroullec

The Platforms have many different uses. They act as pedestals or large collective benches. The first platform takes the form of a large, concave disc suitable for sitting, reclining or skating. The second platform, a succession of slightly sloped surfaces in different colours, provides a place for meeting or relaxing in the middle of the city. The third type of platform consists of large concrete circles that appear to float above the ground, surrounding trees or other specific objects. People can sit, balance or slide on the rings.

03. Clouds (Right)
© Studio Bouroullec

Half pergola, half vegetal, the structure of Clouds formalises an intriguing link between the geometric and the organic, between constructed and natural forms. A unit in the shape of a cloud, a signature motif in the work of Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, creates a roof. The openings are filled in with soil and plants, creating a floating garden. The vegetation brings all of this together, defining an urban promenade.

04. Pergola (Bottom)
© Studio Bouroullec

The Pergola forms a shaded pathway. Step by step, the organic nature of the very long, high roof is confirmed by the vegetation. The surface is like architectural chain-mail made up of one single, repeating unit. Once assembled, the numerous forged components resemble an oversized piece of fabric. Some links are sub-divided to form openings for the plants on the ground, allowing them to over-run the Pergola and create a magical entwinement of metal and vegetation.