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Climate Action Plan case study: Forest School

A small wooden structure made to look large in a forest through perspective
  • Written byAndreas Lang, Course Leader: M ARCH: Architecture, Central Saint Martins
A small wooden structure made to look large in a forest through perspective
Antoina Maisch, 2022 M ARCH: Architecture, Central Saint Martins, UAL | Photograph: Antoina Maisch

Learning from the forest

Forest School uses the forest as a tool to explore the climate and ecological emergency. The programme is led through a series of events, projects, and partnerships. There are many myths that anchor forests deep in our cultural psyches. Yet the communities that guardian forests globally, continue to be marginalised.

As many forests burn across the globe, there is a hope they may hold answers and solutions. Possible solutions range from using forests for carbon offsetting, to more empathic approaches. Solutions that see forests as intelligent interdependent ecosystems, embodying deep thinking.

Forest School hosted a series of lunchtime talks devised by a team at Central Saint Martins (CSM). The talks brought together; Forestry England, White Arkiteker, Colombian forest networks, UAL staff and students. They were attended by over 500 people.

Forest School was integrated into the curriculum on CSM’s M ARCH: Architecture. Associate Lecturers Paloma Gormley and Summer Islam are leading Constructive Land – a year-long research project in partnership with Forestry England. The project investigates and tests the production and application of new biobased materials drawn from “unproductive” woodland material. Students from the course designed and built an experimental timber structure, in Summer 2022. The structure facilitated teaching and community engagement within woodlands.

Forest School is being used as a case study to imagine what a forest-based satellite campus for CSM could look like. The journeys taken into the forest are helping the discovery, learning and ways we can re-form, not only the practice of art and design, but the ways in which we live together within wider planetary systems.