Bobbing Forest in Rotterdam

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February 28, 2014

March 12, 2014, is the official launch of the first prototype of the challenging Bobbing Forest art project in Rotterdam. This prestigious art project is based on the ideas of Dutch artist/designer Jorge Bakker, which will eventually consist of 20 floating trees that will make Rotterdam greener and more exciting. The first tree buoy will be launched in a laboratory setting and will be tested during a period of six months in the new Aqua Dock at the RDM Campus.

In 2012 Jorge Bakker (artist), Jeroen Everaert (director Mothership), Anne van der Zwaag (art historian and cultural entrepreneur) and Jurgen Bey (Dutch designer) took the initiative to realize the plan for the Bobbing Forest. The goal: 20  floating trees to increase the vegetation in the innovative urban setting of  Rotterdam. The Bobbing Forest is a unique co-production where art, business, education and government join forces. Where the challenges of art, nature, water, technology, industry and climate agendas intersect and mutually reinforce.

Challenge

To know for sure whether the concept of the trees placed in buoys floating on the water is viable, the municipality of Rotterdam commissioned Mothership to construct the first  prototype. Under supervision of the engineering department of the municipality of Rotterdam students of Rotterdam University, Delft University of Technology, and Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences examined which type of tree could survive in these specific circumstances and whether the sea buoy would be able to keep the tree balanced. Research shows that not any tree can root and grow in the buoy. Only the Dutch Elm has a chance to survive. Also a practical solution for the water supply for the roots had to be sorted out. Another challenge had to do with the buoyancy of the buoy: the higher the construction on top of the buoy, the more resistance the horizontal buoy has to offer. The solution for this challenge is offered by the International steel construction company Mercon. Mercon has taken up the challenge and modified the standard sea buoy so that it can withstand forces caused by the tree itself, the weather and forces caused by the water. The necessary welding is done within the educational department of Mercon with the help of students. After the welding process the custom made buoy still has the appearance of the sea buoy as we know it from the great Dutch waters.

The Bobbing Forest is a concept and an idea of artist Jorge Bakker (born in Columbia , 1973, he now lives and works in Amsterdam). He studied architectural design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy (2003-2008) and completed his Master's degree at the Sandberg Institute ( 2008-2010). He is known for his sculptures with architectural features and he is constantly exploring the boundaries between architecture and art in his work. Jorge Bakker works and plays with different scales and his sculptures and installations can be seen as 'models', but also an isolated image.

Mothership has a leading role in the production of the Bobbing Forest. Mothership is a Rotterdam based art producer. Mothership functions as a bridge between the ‘art world’ and ‘clients’, seeking out the possibilities for both groups to realize attractive projects. It acts as advisor and intermediary, produces and supervises art projects, often in public space and always keeping in mind its mission: to bring art closer to the people.