The project was conceived by Edwina, and developed in collaboration with architect Marc Lemanski, horticulturists, government agricultural research stations, builders, lighting designers, engineers and local residents. It took place in 1999.
Cultivar was a hydroponic apple orchard located in a previously disused railway arch. The Bishopsgate Goods Yards were located on the cusp between the financial area - the City of London - and an inner city area predominantly occupied by a Bengali community.
The Goods Yards were built in 1840. The site is opposite one of the first railway stations, which allowed city dwellers regardless of their class to visit the orchards and coast of East Anglia. The arch featured a central walkway with the original railway tracks, referring back to this journey. It alluded to the contemporary experience of viewing landscape through the interface of a car or train window.
Cultivar: a plant variety produced by cultivation
Hydroponics: the process of growing plants without soil in sand, gravel, or liquid , using added nutrients
Whilst at first view, the orchard created a natural and relaxing space, Cultivar was highly synthetic; involving technology commonly used in today’s agriculture.
Each of the ten apple trees used, had three varieties grafted together, which produced different blossom and fruit on the same tree.
Daylight was simulated by 30 overhead lamps, which simulated both daytime and moonlit lighting. This unnatural environment was heightened by the fact that the grass and trees were being grown hydroponically on rubble recycled from the site. This system automatically delivered all the nutrients and water needed through underground systems.
Cultivar also referred to cross-fertilisation and hybridisation, and the issues of living in the surrounding multicultural community by referencing the rhizomic patterns that both plants and human beings adopt. The orchard provided a green space in a highly urbanised environment, which has the lowest percentage of trees per square mile in Western Europe.
It was demolished several years ago to make way for a shopping centre and the London Overground’s Shoreditch High Street station.