The Tree of Trees by Heatherwick Studios
A spectacular 21-metre “Tree of Trees” sculpture featuring 350 British native trees was created outside Buckingham Palace as a centrepiece of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend celebrations in the first week of June, 2022.
Thomas Heatherwick is known for his designs that certainly make a mark in the public sphere, some more than others, The Vessel in New York, being a case in point. His innovations in design is another factor that makes his buildings so popular. His latest addition to the British public sphere is a sculpture called the Tree of Trees and is part of The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) and the Jubilee celebrations. The QGC is said to be inspiring Britishers to plant over a million trees during its first season, from October 2021 to March 2022. It is a charitable initiative and the “Tree of Trees” sculpture has been supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The sculpture seeks to put the importance of trees and nature at the heart of the historic milestone to celebrate Her Majesty, who has planted over 1,500 trees all over the world throughout the course of her 70-year reign, according to the design office of Heatherwick Studio.
The 350 trees are in aluminium pots embossed with Her Majesty’s cypher. After the Jubilee weekend, the trees will be gifted to selected community groups and organisations to celebrate their work and inspire the next generation of tree planters across the nation. The trees will be carefully stored during the summer ahead of distribution at the start of the planting season in October.
With trees and nature central to many of their designs, Thomas Heatherwick and his team’s creative approach closely reflects this theme. Though the sight of the Tree of Trees is decidedly green from a distance, on closer inspection, it seems to be a steel canopy which would surely be an engineering marvel. The greenery is an addition on the steel base. So, it looks as if the new addition is more a steel structural piece with a green decoration than a complete green foliage that one would expect for a Green initiative. But the steel uses also comes with a story behind it, says Heatherwick.
As if to silence the critics on the use of steel, the designers emphasise that the materials were sourced from local suppliers within the United Kingdom to minimise transportation, energy use and waste and the design optimised to maximise the use of old surplus steel, keeping the level of embodied carbon to a minimum. The timber support, deck and joists are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.
The sculpture is made from reclaimed and new steel with materials and expertise sourced from local suppliers up and down the country, from Cleveland and Hull to Cambridgeshire and Hove. Heatherwick says: “The structure, created from 350 British native trees and recycled steel, is coming together from workshops and nurseries across the country as one part of an incredible community campaign that’s literally changing the landscape of our nation.”