“Botany for Change” Envisions the Future of a Sustainable Paris
Paris is a city renowned for its famous gardens, but what about sustainable development and urban renewal? By 2030 global economy will rise by 50%, while urban populations are projected to increase by one billion. This drastic evolution will require political adjustments and reforms to improve individual wellbeing and to mitigate adverse climate changes– which is especially true in Paris, where unprecedented flooding has taken its toll as the Seine continues to overflow its banks. New York and London have been focal to the discussion of sea-level rise and the importance of environmental innovation in cities, but it now seems crucial for Parisians to question themselves on the value of green spaces in a world where towns expand and nature seems to recede at an increasingly-alarming pace.
For over twenty years, the Klorane Institute has been raising public awareness about the value of plants and botany in our urban lives. Now, with the “Botany for Change Award”, the Institute challenges younger generations to imagine a greener city. Klorane thus provides the young with the opportunity to take action and to make a social and societal contribution to tomorrow’s world.
This year, the most enthusiastic students in botany, horticulture, architecture, and landscaping were invited to materialize their craziest plant-based idea according to the theme of “tomorrow’s urban garden”. The best projects were to be exhibited in front of Paris Town Hall, but prior to that, they had to be selected by a jury of French experts and green aficionados– among them Alain Baraton, Head Gardener of the “Grand Parc” at the Château de Versailles and the Domaine National du Trianon; Stéphane Marie, host of French TV Show “Silence ça Pousse”, and Florence Guillaume, Director of the Klorane Institute. Four plant installations were shortlisted and exhibited from May 20th to 22nd in the heart of Paris, on one of the most prestigious esplanades in the city.
“New York and London have been focal to the discussion of sea-level rise and the importance of environmental innovation in cities, but it now seems crucial for Parisians to question themselves on the importance of green spaces in a world where towns expand and nature seems to recede at an increasingly-alarming pace.”
The exhibition’s design and scenography brought to life these four installations in the form of a puzzle, entitled “BEAUtanical” (a play on the word beau, or ‘beautiful’ in French). It was therefore through the prism of beauty and poetry that these innovative and visionary creations were revealed.
Two of the plant installations suggested options to green the capital’s unoccupied walls, including barren rooftops and the greyish walls that are perhaps too common in the contemporary Parisian landscape. A third feature was of an urban garden, and the fourth, which was entitled “Therapeutic Garden” and designed by two students from the French National School of Landscape Architecture, aimed to raise the public’s awareness on the natural healing capacity and edible virtues of plants.
All the installations are now enjoying a second life in Paris community gardens. Florence Guillaume, Director of the Klorane Institute, has this to say:
“Tomorrow’s urban garden will definitely be botanic, organic, social, and useful; even connected, if one takes the winning student groups’ word for it. During this first ‘Botany for Change’ competition, students have shown a remarkable sense of creativity and innovation. 2016 competitors proved to be highly talented pathfinders for change through botany. And at Klorane, we are committed to giving pride of place to these promising professions that are, today more than ever, crucial to a world growing more and more urbanized.”