Christmas – In Celtic culture, nemetons were the forest groves that acted as gathering places. From here, THE ELECTRIC NEMETON urban installation by Sam Jacob Studio in Granary Square, London, acts as a abstract forest and socially distant meeting space. The installation features a series of green tree-like pyramids held 4m above the ground on metal column-trunks.
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“Part tree, part spaceframe, it creates a space to walk through, a stage for social life and a sculptural object in Granary Square.” Explains Sam Jacob. “As public space has taken on new significances during Covid-19, the Electric Nemeton contributes a little more to the possibilities of winter life outdoors. A structure that itself is an event, somewhere to explore and a platform for open ended use.”
Timber sections are used to construct the tree-structure, with stretched coloured net panels forming its canopy. Lighting effects accentuate the structures translucent qualities. As a big, elevated structurally expressive roof, it creates a space for things to happen underneath, a little like the great engineered sheds of Kings Cross and St Pancras stations nearby.
These simple materials – scaffold net, timber joists, galvanised steel – expose the construction process while their layering creates something more magical. “As you move around, the structure is sometimes more see through, sometimes more solid. Its colours fade and bleed from one to another.”
The Electric Nemeton is also a take on the traditions of merging architecture and nature around the winter solstice. “From the palm leaves used in ancient Egypt and by Romans as Saturnalia decorations to the druidic use of mistletoe and fir trees we bring into our homes. Here, the trees become a kind of architecture themselves, but also architecture with forest-like qualities”.
“Like all winter tree traditions whose symbolism is intended to ward off the darkness and act as a gesture of hope for the return of the sun, the Electric Nemoton also expresses an idea of hope for the return of our social and public lives.”
THE ELECTRIC NEMETON was commissioned by King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership. London-based Sam Jacob Studio has teamed up with engineering firm AKTII, DHA Designs fthe or lighting design and Jamps Studio for the fabrication.
Photography by Jim Stephenson.
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