We may never tire of new ways to interject some spontaneous green space into a concrete cityscape. Kevin van Braak‘s caravan takes a top spot on our urban intervention favorites list. It’s a mobile trailer that unfolds into an elevated park replete with a fire circle and wildflowers.

Most information we found on the Dutch artist is [obviously] in Dutch, which leaves us depending upon Babelfish for detailed interpretation. Luckily the intention behind the project doesn’t require too much guessing; though from the translation, it seems that besides simply reintroducing nature in the concrete jungle, Braak aims to address cultural issues such as individuality vs. community, and the role of religion and ritual in group experience. If you want to read the whole semi-sensical Babelfish translation, read on…

“Under group shelter I understand a spot which offers protection. Protection of lijf and ideas. Body and spirit. The contemporary group shelter not only needs be a physical spot true people can hide, but can also in mentally or mental area manifest itself. At this moment is considered religion to me as a most dominant group shelter. From way back between religious stromingen group feelings are mutually finished under the mom of religious truth and justice. The conflict situations which have arisen this way, have enlarged things on sharply put. That happens now, in our society. Religious symbols and rituals play a large role. At the latest show where you belong to. By presuppositions concerning religions those symbols can will lead their own life. A symbol stands then for a complete religion, irrespective of the vele interpretations and the individual perception of it. You dovetail a religion, and are characterised by the symbol of it, also self-protection offers beside protection. A form of shielding. Because individual people in conflict situations disappear to the context, that self-protection is undermined paradoxically enough. The individual opinion becomes surplus a compromise for the opinion of the group. The voltrekking of such a process do think sublimatie (concisely in the work of Freud) of the medical-philosophical term, with which a change of primitive impulse expressions in strevingen of higher, raised level is indicated.”

+Kevin van Braak
+Religious Sublimation


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  1. Kim Holleman September 5, 2006 at 11:35 am

    I have just opened a project like this for The Storefront for Art and Architecture in lower Manhattan, NY as a work of public art, but it was much more extensive and built like a real park with living plants, a water fountain, and a drip irrigation system.

  2. Laura September 4, 2006 at 11:37 pm

    If my babelfish Dutch serves me, it seems like the creator of this mobile park is thinking about shelter, both physical and mental. It seems like Mr. van Brack thinks religion has functioned as a kind of shelter, and is presenting an alternative kind of contemporary shelter – a public space. I’m not sure it’s fair to judge him on how ‘sustainable’ his project is, or how much it is intergrated into natural processes, any more than you would judge a large public scultpture made of steel or glass on that criteria.

    It looks to me like the people in that trailer are having a good time.

  3. JS August 24, 2006 at 10:22 pm

    If it’s political, it hurts the fight towards true sustainability and market/social transformation. Beyond being subject to justifiable criticisms about sustainability, it’s arguably evocatively sleek images are completely hollow of any substance.

    It’s the environmental version of Burger King…nature in a box, “have it your way.”

    Consider the extra energy and materials to just create the box itself. Just plant some trees, create some organic urban gardens…

    Meaning, if you want more nature in urban areas, just remove a few pavers (in those pictures) and plant some indigenous vegetation. Sustainability is about integration with the natural environment, its processes and cycles…not rolling in a big box of grass/trees. If there’s no honesty in the process, or essence in the statement…there’s no integrity in the design.

    I won’t ramble further 😉 …but its statement about wilderness is even worse…

  4. Juli August 24, 2006 at 9:11 pm

    Riva, I’m of the same opinion. It’s a lark.

    Okay, maybe I’m in too philisophical of a mood today and you should tell me to take a leap…but what exactly is the definition of “natural”?

    Don’t you think it’s ironic that what we think of as “natural”…our parks, yards, and other public landscaping are all heavily manufactured in some way by humans? Design, topsoil, concrete hardscape, irrigation, plant arrangement, fertilizers, etc. Even many of the plants we buy have been hybridized to bring out the characteristics we love best, like big showy flowers or ??

    I’m not judging either way, I just think our ideas about what it means to be “natural” and the value we place (or don’t place) on being natural or artificial are really intriquing. When does something stop being considered natural and start being artificial? And why is artificial often considered bad and natural good?

  5. Riva August 22, 2006 at 10:40 pm

    To the above comments: I saw it and thought of it less as a practical/sustainable object than as a political statement, a visible and tongue-in-cheek protest against the lack of more green space in our cities.

  6. Peter August 22, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    Rektide…check out Cultivating Life on They made a green roof without extremely costly materials, of course it depends on how big your roof is and how much of it you want to green.

  7. silvee shah August 22, 2006 at 2:51 pm

    well, if its real vegetation thn – nothing like this………..its an amazing concept, cos todays lifetsyle which strongly demands fast moving, and hardworking life , hardly gives us any scope to sit n relax…..forget about meeting friends and relatives, we hardly even get time for ourselves….i think such concepts are now or may be in future will be in demand, as it offers a scope to meet people through it….this can be a medium were i , when returning from job in a tired condition would love to b a part of it n relax while on the way…rather thn going specially to a park… works, it rocks,,,,,gud idea….just concerned if its real vegetation….

  8. JS August 22, 2006 at 2:22 pm

    and motherplants is fantastic. both the owners, genuinely great and dedicated people!

  9. JS August 22, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    rektide…try too. they make a very non-intrusive, relatively light (8 to 15 pounds per square foot if i remember right) green roof.

    and laura, i’m with you. i think as cool as these designs are, they say something genuinely sad about how we perceive nature, and how we interact with it. beyond the fact that you’re probably exactly right that the trees aren’t real, stuff like this, i’d argue, really reveals our disconnect with nature and between design, planning and the natural world. there should be no need to create a box to import nature into a city…it should already be there! and nevermind whether you can call nature in a box with fake trees actually sustainable or not…

  10. Laura Aquino August 22, 2006 at 12:55 pm

    Are those trees real? I think they would need some depth for their roots, more than what I can see from the picture. The grass and flowers could be (real). I hope they’re all natural vegetation. Otherwise, what’s the point if it’s not real green? …Or maybe I’m just too much of a purist.

  11. Amy K August 22, 2006 at 2:00 am

    Here’s Treehugger’s primer on green roofs: entitled “Green Roofs: A Primer”. It mentions has courses on how to install a green roof. You can find plants specifically for green roofs at – good luck!

  12. rektide August 21, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    What kind of medium would be good for a project like this?

    Last night sleeping on the roof I realized I should probably put down vegatation, make a green roof, and all day I’ve been trying to think of how to cheaply make a good medium for the roof. I havent found any particularly compelling vegetation blankets or tiling solutions that would work, but I’m sure there’s something that would help, just look at the walls of this park. It feels like serendipity, seeing this article, but I still am no closer to having any idea what to put down.

    Any references, help, pointers, anything… please?

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