Digital Garden


Located in the Royal Docks of London, the project aims to reuse the water of the disused dock and reinvent the lost spectacle of the pleasure garden. With one of its past exhibits being a Japanese Garden, the cherry blossom tree is chosen as a subject.Utilising the water from the dock, mechanical devices and digital technology along the banks project holographic cherry blossoms on to mist.

Holographic tree grows and undergo seasonal changes in a fascinating choreography on a grand scale transforming the disused dock into alive event spectacle. Each cherry blossom has a life cycle of 6 hours. Taking a different forms when viewed at different points, conveying mystical quality ,especially when the trees seem to magically disappear and reappear. The movement of the lights and mechanism can be controlled to the millimetre to create a subtle choreography.


What prompted the project?

The lost spectacle of the London Pleasure Garden! This was coupled with disused dockyards, which saw rapid decline due to containerisation. I have re-emphasised this lost joy by taking advantage of the immaterialness of water, via projection onto mist.

What is your take on our contemporary relationship to the spectacle in architecture? How does your nature oriented project position itself in relation to this condition?

I hope to capture the poetry of mist, which has an ethereal, gravity-defying presence. I found that projecting images onto it is one of the best ways to demonstrate its presence. This produces three-dimensional holographic images that seem to magically disappear and reappear when viewed from different angles.

To that end, I have designed interactive installation along the banks and projected a holographic cherry blossom onto mist. The movement of lights and mechanisms can be controlled to the millimeter to subtly choreograph the spectacle. The holographic tree grows and undergoes seasonal changes in a fascinating choreography on a grand scale, transforming the disused dock into a live event spectacle.

What defined the various drawings you use to reveal and articulate the project? How were these staged and thought of in relation to a spectacle?

The three-dimensional holographic tree has different appearances when viewed from different viewpoints. To capture the changing appearances of the tree as one walks across the pathways, I have used lines to mark the viewpoints and angles, along with images of the tree to establish expectations and encourage audiences to linger.

How important are the sketches for the making and development of the model?

I used sketches to quickly develop the concept and mechanisms of the working model. The sketches become useful visual communication tools for communicating with workshop technicians and fabricators. While discussing, we would draw out different sketches to show different possibilities, leading to the final model. I flit between models and sketches to refine details and the final outcomes.

Did you ever think of filming the model? What define the use of the still photograph?

I attempted a short video, but felt like it showed too much information on the behind-the-scenes production, which detracts from the illusion. I prefer to use still photographs as they hide the making process, and makes the sudden appearance of the holographic tree seem more mystical.

How do you see the architect as a theatre director and choreographer of space?

It is fertile creative ground. The architect would need to create a space that integrated theatrical disciplines such as lighting, fly wires, and backdrops into a coherent solution, while at the same time searching for a strong architectural identity to enhance the uniqueness of the performance.