At the London Design Festival Asif Khan explores the possibilities of “third places” using the MINI residential forests
MINI’s green-filled, relaxing living spaces, which Asif Khan presented at the London Design Festival 2016, set an example of a stunning new environment that brings people from one community to meetings, creativity and relaxation. The small car manufacturer MINI invited the designer Asif Khan to continue the development of the MINI program, which began earlier this year at Salone del Mobile in Milan, and explore new architectural solutions to problems related to life in the city.
The debut installation was devoted to the study of collective life forms, the focus of the London continuation of the project is the need for a functional and flexible structure of “third places” in the urban environment.
“Given the tendency to compact cities, it is necessary to tap the potential of the city creatively,” explains Oke Hauser, creative director of the Mini Living project. - “Taking into account how much public space remains, we have to wonder how we can activate the potential of underdeveloped neighborhoods and use it for the benefit of the citizens.”
Participants in the MINI Living project explored London to uncover the hidden potential of the public spaces available, and found three suitable locations in the city’s fabric. These places became the basis of the concept of “Third places” Mini Living in the interpretation of Asif Khan. The designer created a series of architectural and vegetative installations called “Forests” in order to study the interrelations between public and private spaces of the city.
The designs embodied the reasoning about the possibilities of “third places”, as described by the sociologist Ray Oldenburg: places where “regular, purposeful, informal and desired for participants to meet outside of work and at home” occur.
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At several points in Šordić, "forest" objects of the series appeared. Each contains a miniature forest, from which visitors can take the plants from their home during the festival. Advice on the organization of favorable conditions for plants in installations was provided by Jin An from the botanical garden in Hackney.
Three architectural installations differing in internal landscapes and flora, located at some distance from each other on the crowded streets of Šordić, forming a temporary network of “third places” where visitors can meet, create and relax, immersed in a specially created atmosphere.
At the site dedicated to the idea of unification, a long common table was set up - as an invitation to get together and interact. On the second, designed for creativity, staggered seats serve as a place where guests can work in a relaxed atmosphere. The third installation is a green room raised above the ground, where passersby can retire while in the city.
Although each of the islands is designed for its own type of activity, the layout allows you to take individual events of the festival.
MINI invites visitors to the festival to use the rooms as a continuation of their personal space, as well as link public and private spaces by taking the plants home to grow them at home and share this process on social networks.
“In Japanese, there is an expression‘ shinrin yoku ’, which literally means‘ bathing in the forest ’. It is understood that each of our senses "turns on", absorbing the atmosphere of the forest, what we hear, what we smell, and even what we feel with our feet. Another aspect is when we use plants as a tool, with the help of which we designate the boundaries of our space with the public, whether it is a personal desk at work or the perimeter of the area around the house. The project combines these two ideas so that visitors can experience new sensations without leaving the city, ”says Asif Khan.
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Jin An explains: “Every day in London we see the efforts and the ability of plants to survive in the city. In our project, both of these qualities are demonstrated in close-up: the indisputable aesthetic pleasure from the presence of plants and their ability to connect people. ”
The concept of "MINI Living, your side of the city" assumed the creation of a complex of spaces between home and city, between work and entertainment, between public and personal territory.
Asif Khan’s London-based studio works in the field of architecture, industrial and furniture design, constantly directing these disciplines along unexpected innovative paths. In a token of the high appraisal of the project and the implementation of the MegaFaces pavilion for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Asif Khan was awarded the Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival for his innovative approach. It was the first time that the jury awarded the prestigious prize of the architectural studio and the Russian project.