Marcus Rothnie, Partner, has been involved in the Forest since 2017 “We have developed a tradition where our young graduates work on designing and making installations that help inspire the children, as visitors and participants. And they enjoy the challenge of designing and making something that lasts for a long weekend, giving them a break from a design process that can last years, when creating complex buildings.”
Some of the architects who have been involved over the years shared accounts of how the festival has made an impact on them:
Luke Mcnab, architect, lead the design and construction of “The Den” in Kingsmead Square, in 2018, “Our proposal for a timber pavilion - imagined as a sheltered space for storytelling - had all the facets of an architectural project, but in small scale form. An initial ideas pitch, attending the regular meetings, sourcing materials and budgeting, setting up the cutting files for the timber parts and leading a construction team. Seeing children explore the books and feel at home in the den was hugely rewarding. “
Carl Woodcraft, architect, echoes this “In 2018, I helped to build Luke’s reading den and a series of benches, encouraging people to sit, eat and draw together. It was super fun being outside with a battery drill, assembling things ‘on site’ and bringing the designs to life! "
Katie Shannon, architectural apprentice, was involved with Forest of Imagination in 2018 for the first time. “It was an eye-opening, inspirational experience – watching young people inhabit the temporary spaces and places we created for the festival was a true joy.” This experience encouraged her to lead a project the following year.
“In 2019 I worked with local schools to design furniture from waste. Our goal was to engage children to play an active role in the project by creating the building blocks from their own waste plastic. We held a series of workshops in schools, with scout groups and in the studio to make the Ecobricks. Through our installation, we wanted to change their perceptions of plastic by using its worst attribute – the fact that it lasts forever – as a positive asset, but also with the aim to inspire lasting change in our wasteful shopping habits.”
This year’s Forest of Imagination has taken over the Georgian Assembly Rooms. Our installation – created in collaboration with artist Andrew Amondson – playfully uses the life of a single mature beech tree as both its inspiration, and raw materials. The ‘Wandering Way’ is a ‘field’ of long grass, which sways thanks to a number of ‘windmakers’ operated by visitors. On the route through the meadow are a series of stories from the imagined inhabitants of the tree, an underground hide, and places to climb, sit, reflect.