BLOOM: A Crowd Sourced Garden
London Olympics 2012
“All possible branches are real.”
J. L. Borges, Garden of Forking Paths
Commissioned by the Greater London Authority as part of Wonder series celebrating Olympics and Paralympics, BLOOM is designed and developed by Alisa Andrasek and Jose Sanchez from The Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL.
Designed in neon pink (the official Olympics color), BLOOM is conceptualized as an urban toy, a distributed social game and collective “gardening” experience that seeks the engagement of people in order to construct fuzzy BLOOM formations. A massive population of cells is introduced through the main “portal” of the game constructed by designers. People are able to add the pieces to the initial pavilion to alter its form as well as start seeding new ground sequences that can be used as urban furniture such as seating or simply unpredictable formations. The bench structure is an initial seed for the visitorsʼ interaction. It suggests a multiplicity of connection points from which the structure could start growing. An initial aggregation developed by the designers will show participants the possibilities of the system, but people can add more pieces in some areas in order to alter the general shape. New pieces will be fed into this collective construction site depending on its intensity.
BLOOM considers a mode of assembly, disassembly and re-usability that challenges the notions of traditional construction. Looking at the examples of toys like LEGO, the lifespan of the project is undetermined as it allows the project to adapt and reappear in many different places and occasions.
The collective act of coming to one place and building something becomes a shared memory for each person attending. The energy for BLOOM construction is sourced from peopleʼs interactions. None of the pieces can do anything on its own, only by putting together thousands of them is when the game and the BLOOM garden emerge. By recombining 3 different connections in each cell, or following rhythms of repeating strings of same connections (like in music!) participants can build a ring, a spiral or a distributed branch, amongst others. Only by playing and discovering does the actual ʻdesignʼ emerge. The final piece is a collective act of imagination, search and play. You can try to intuitively assemble a chair or a bench, or construct a canopy. Due to the flexibility and resilience of the building cells, the ʻrulesʼ of the game can be bent; you can twist them to find different shapes and discover new configurations! Like in the clouds, you can read the shapes in BLOOM formations . . .
During the Olympics, BLOOM will be installed at Victoria Park and UCL campus, and will migrate to Trafalgar Square for the duration of Paralympics.
Alisa Andrasek is an architect and curator. She is a founding principal of Biothing operating at the intersection of design, complexity and computer science. Andrasek teaches at The UCL Bartlett School of Architecture and has taught at the AA, Columbia, Pratt, UPenn and RMIT Melbourne. She received numerous awards and her work has been exhibited worldwide.
Jose Sanchez is an Architect/Programmer/Game Designer based in London. In 2009 he founded the Plethora Project, an initiative to accelerate computational literacy in the frame of architecture and design. He currently teaches at The Bartlett School of Architecture and at the Architectural Association.