Initiated during London’s lockdown in 2021, Growing Riversiders got 100 families together to co-create an urban intervention formed from plants that they had nurtured at home.

Growing Riversiders

Barking Riverside and Wilds Ecology Centre

At the height of COVID, new urban development Barking Riverside was looking for innovative ways to engage its community, foster environmental stewardship, and create a distinctive sense of place within the new neighbourhood.

A key challenge was to develop ways to engage people remotely in their homes, at a time when many were isolating and unable to meet in person, and yet to have a meaningful impact on the physical space that they enjoyed when out and about.

Our approach, blending physical and digital engagement strategies, got 100 families together in co-creating a landscape intervention of 400 plants that together formed an image representing the community’s identity.

We structured the project around people’s innate sense of care when nurturing plants. Families were given 4 plants to take care of at home, each of which would become one single ‘pixel’ in a final landscape image. After several weeks, families gathered in timed slots to assemble the monumental image formed from their nurtured plants at the Wilds Ecology Centre.

Participants on-site for plant-pixel positioning and installation
Participants on-site for plant-pixel positioning and installation
Image of honeybee starts to emerge as the pixel flowerbed fills up

“It exemplifies the type of work that we want to do with the people of Barking Riverside. It’s a project that’s being owned by local people, they help design and grow the artwork, and it’s just so great to see them coming back together to create their own art installation.”

- Ella Rodwell
Design and Planning Manager at Barking Riverside Limited

Image of honeybee starts to emerge as the pixel flowerbed fills up

We developed a digital platform to guide the community’s growing activities, and collaborate and document plant growth. Participants used it to test possible designs for the landscape intervention, formed from 400 plants-as-pixels, eventually creating a honey bee to symbolise the ethos of collaboration and sustainability cherished by the community.

This living co-creation serves as a testament to community spirit and environmental consciousness, enriching the local landscape and fostering a sense of pride among residents.

Despite early concerns, Barking Riverside were delighted to find that 100% of the plants were brought back to site for the final intervention, exemplifying a collaborative vision rooted in sustainability and shared stewardship of the environment.

Digital platform and mobile web app for Growing Riversiders participants
Digital platform and mobile web app for Growing Riversiders participants
Photos of Growing Riversiders at Wilds Ecology Centre, Barking


Artistic Concept, Creative Director, Software Development
Ling Tan

Special thanks
• All the wonderful project champions and Plant Parents
• Matthew Sims from Barking Riverside
• Kate Turner and Harriet Stevens from Faust PR
• Shane Moore from Acre Landscape
• Jack Addis from Lumen Art Projects

All photos © 2024 HAQUE TAN

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