Bicycle Paradise, a nature-art assemblage

The Bicycle Paradise project presents a contemporary landscape architectural installation for the Floralies 2022 horticultural festival in Ghent, Belgium. The project includes a blend of art, nature and social engagement. Inspired by the drawings from Van Eyck and the horticultural traditions of the region, the project creates a powerful narrative about the resilience of nature and the importance of green spaces in urban environments. It’s an attempt to understand landscape architecture as a vehicle to create meaningful, immersive experiences that inspire and engage the public.

A forest in the velodrome

Selected through a competition, the project aimed to transform the iconic velodrome ‘het Kuipke’ into a lush and immersive forest. This year’s festival was dedicated to the Ghent altarpiece ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by the Van Eyck brothers, completed in 1432, and recognised worldwide as one of the most influential paintings ever made. Kollektif’s design for Bicycle Paradise included the creation of a mystical and pristine forest in the centre of the velodrome. The forest consists of 500 young trees with various sizes and species. The clusters of trees represent the different types of Flemish forest biotopes. Light, smoke and birdsong create an ethereal atmosphere and immersive experience. In the centre of the forest is an open lit area which lights up, echoing the central motif in Van Eyck’s work. The rough decoration, with trees in clumps and stone rubble, adds a raw, naturalistic texture to the setting. The composition is very minimalist, with the trees arranged in root balls on a thin layer of soil. This way, the installation not only highlighted the problematic loss of habitat and forest in Flanders, but also symbolised the ‘outbreak of nature’ associated with the ongoing efforts to demineralise today’s cities.

Social engagement and exploration

Bicycle Paradise was designed to be socially engaging and thought provoking. Visitors were invited to explore the forest and experience moments of disorientation and discovery. Floral sculptures were hidden among the trees, including works by renowned florist Daniël Ost. The project also included an ‘adoption programme’ where visitors could adopt a tree and follow its journey from the velodrome to a nearby afforestation project in Eeklo. This initiative aimed to raise public awareness of the importance of forest conservation and at the same time a critique of the problematic temporality of horticultural events and green installations. After the event, the adoptive parents were invited to plant the forest in Eeklo together, fostering a sense of community and shared responsibility for the environment.

Location: Velodrome Het Kuipke, 9000 Gent, East-Flanders, Belgium.

Design year: 2020

Year Completed: 2022


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