I love botanical gardens and have been to many different ones around the world, from the Eden Projects in Cornwall to smaller scale tropical plots in Viñales, Cuba. These gardens have a purpose to educate and create humbling sanctuaries to showcase the harmonisation of human interaction and nature at its finest.
On the edge of the city, Kew Gardens is one of my favourite. It is where I escape when bad news hits, like when the UK referendum results declared ‘Brexit’.
Over the last decade the special features programming in Kew has had some low points*. From decorative glass blobby floaters in the lake (Dale Chihuly, 2005 – by far the worst offender), to ugly scaffolding structures like the newly situated Hive. Although arguably the latter could be talked up, I’ve seen the mound of metal and it didn’t make me feel connected to the natural environment or bees. As a pavilion in Milan last year I’m sure it was much more effective. If you look online you will see dramatic images of it lit up at night, amazing renders, but this is actually what you are faced with:
*..Although, The Spice Season in 2015 at Kew was full of life; interactive, educational, it had an inspired events programme and offered a door into the trade routes that have fed Kew’s vast array of fauna.
I wish the programming highlighted some of the more imaginative and inspiring projects from around the globe like Rainforest Connection’s work in which discarded mobile phones are being use to detect deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Kew needs to start expecting more of its audience and become more relevant, unless it wishes to be a disconnected oasis housing exotic species that are extinct in the wild, as many of our zoos represent.
I want to see a showcase of the work being done in the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Wales. A hub which connects our technological input/output to our environment.
The Centre for Alternative Technology has been experimenting with renewable energy sources since the 70s with the aim to empower people to live a more sustainable life. It is an education and visitor centre demonstrating practical solutions for sustainability.
With a DIY, interactive attitude, the programme seeks to encourage visitors to get excited about their role in progressive technology. It encourages the entrepreneur, inventor, citizen scientist. This is exactly what the world famous botanical gardens need to catch up on.