“In the age of creative minds and new frontiers, a serene atmosphere of fluid space and equal architecture will provide courage and new horizons for people to think, produce and be well together.”

This is how New York-based architects Tabe Shouri introduce their proposal which seeks to create an oasis within the Forest Hill industrial estate. Incorporating a number of birch trees within the redevelopment, they hope to create an breathable location, with the gallery and work spaces separated by plants and light wells.

Your proposed introduction of birch trees and roof garden into the former light industrial space seems like both an attempt to create an oasis within the area as well as being something of a provocation. How do you see the relationship between architectural practice and the natural world at present?

In our philosophy for Serene’s design, it is inevitable to be considered provocative when the project stands aside the norm and creates an oasis to look different. But does this provocation have a purpose or why is it there? Not surprisingly, the answer is yes and its purpose is to raise the awareness of people about the joy, challenges and benefits of living together with nature. Living with nature in an atmosphere; including the ten birch trees shaping Serene, promotes being calm and creative for artists at Anise Gallery Workshop. Similar to Provocative Art Pieces of Carl Andre’s Tate Gallery installation of 120 bricks or in Anthony-Noel Kelly’s cast body-parts sculptures, criticism may and will come with an architecture that tries to push its current boundaries and derive from being a normative. We are aware of flexibility that artists have in delivering a provocative message, while, the architecture needs to be more precise and definitive about the essence of such a move. Serene is a perfect example of the fact that it is very essential and beneficial to consider nature in an ethical theory and moral practice creating “a narrative about the atmosphere” merged with light and nature compared to the one without them. Architectural practice in our current natural world needs to create a movement that leads to a dialogue between different communities to explore new and better ways of living together.

Left Image: Mies Foundation, Spain