New £426,000 temporary art project inspired by FUNGUS officially opens in Milton Keynes' Station Square this month

It explores the 'hidden communication' between fungus, trees and insects

Monday, 20th September 2021, 5:40 pm
Updated Monday, 20th September 2021, 5:42 pm

A £426K temporary art project that was inspired by fungus promises to transform the area outside Central Milton Keynes rail station.

The Station Square project opens officially at the end of this month and is called The Modernist Glade.

It features a mushroom pavilion, which will provide a growing space for oyster mushrooms, alongside a learning lab where the public can learn about fungus.

Artists' impression of The Modernist Glade

Hayatsu architects and and artist Tue Greenfort were commissioned to produce the artwork following a council-run competition last year.

Their design takes this fungus/tree relationship as a theme for a "spatial response" to Station Square and what lies beneath its paved surface. It explores the 'hidden communication network between trees, fungus and insects', they say.

The installation includes a grid of 48 trees, market stalls, event spaces, a seating area made from recycled logs, wild flower lawns, and even a bee hive built using 3D printing technologies.

A spokesman for the designers said: "It has been inspired by the original drawings by Helmut Jacob, which envisioned the founding modernist design principles of Milton Keynes in the 1960s and its radical ecological concept ‘The Forest City’ (in which the tree became an important symbol of MK)...and new research which explores the hidden communication network between trees, fungus and insects (the symbiotic relationship between trees and fungus known as mycelium).

The fungus that inspired the Station Square art project

"Interestingly, scientists have recently discovered that, as part of a complex organic communications system, trees play a greater role in our environment than we first realised. A symbiotic relationship exists between trees and fungus, through a sprawling subterranean network called mycelium."

He added: "Station Square will become a place where visitors are invited to rest, enjoy food and a film, but also engage in communal learning activities made by locals for locals with a global perspective."

The Modernist Glade is the start of a longer term aim to provide a permanent enhancement to the city’s gateway.

Deputy MK Council leader and Cabinet member for economic development, Cllr Robin Bradburn said: “This exciting project will make Milton Keynes an even more welcoming place for people as soon as they arrive. We have bold ambitions to ensure Central MK continues to grow and remains an attractive place for people to visit and a prime place to do business.”

This is what the glade will look like