The Many Tree

A flexible solution for a greener city

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How do you make an ever-changing city more green?

A new residential area, a temporary event space, a train station area undergoing a complete overhaul: cities are constantly changing. Removing tiles and adding plants? Greening in such urban environments is not that simple. So, what's the solution? Due to increasingly hot summers, an answer to this question is urgently needed. Tree architect Joshua Russo-Batterham designed a smart solution with The Many Tree.

Covered with various plants, such as passionflower, this towering wooden installation adapts its plant selection based on weather conditions, community needs, and biodiversity considerations. The Many Tree doesn't rely on roots in the ground; its nourishment comes from the wooden installation and works on hydroculture principles. Underground cellars, pipes, and conduits are not obstacles for this tree. Another advantage is that moving The Many Tree is a breeze, thanks to the wooden installation and integrated nourishment system. This way, the tree fits perfectly in places where it's only temporarily welcomed or needs frequent relocation.

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About Studio JNRB

Studio JNRB designs and creates innovative green installations specifically for cities. Founder Joshua Russo-Batterham blurs the line between "built" and "grown." His solutions, considering the complex layout of urban areas, are temporary, scalable, and flexible. Places that used to feel unpleasant are transformed into cozy, healthy, and cooling spaces to enjoy. The Many Tree is Studio JNRB's inaugural project, with ongoing research into various forms of hybrid growth possibilities in the city. Ultimately, this could lead to the creation of a genuine arboretum of green installations in the city, contributing to the question of the value of green in our urban environment.

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‘‘As a municipality, we involve Joshua in our city center greening plans. Not just with The Many Tree, but primarily with his expertise in this area.’’
Dennis Kaspori | Senior Advisor for Urban Greening, Municipality of Eindhoven
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About the background

Imagine growing up in the green city of Melbourne, Australia, especially in one of its so-called green wedges. You've always known that greenery is an essential part of city life. It brings coolness, comfort, and beauty to the urban landscape.

This is how the story of The Many Tree begins, conceived and developed by Joshua Russo-Batterham, who completed his architectural education in Australia. His journey through Europe planted the first seed for The Many Tree. In Vienna, Joshua was surprised by the lack of green space in certain streets, apart from parks and gardens. Furthermore, when you plant greenery, it takes years before it has an impact on the city's appearance. So, even newly developed or redeveloped city areas still feel uncanny for a long time. What if you could address this with a temporary, flexible, and scalable solution?

About the process

The idea

Green roofs, green walls, green bus stops: these are common features in cities. However, in these cases, greenery is always secondary to the design. Green is a nice addition, but not the primary focus. The Many Tree had to be a statement in itself, just like a tree, forest, or park in the city. The idea of a towering wooden installation emerged from this concept. Such an installation immediately catches your eye in a cityscape. Moreover, it provides shade – you can seek refuge from the sun under the overhanging parts – and has the potential to become a gathering place for people in the city.

‘‘What is the role and function of green in our cities? With The Many Tree, I want to raise this question among residents, architects, and authorities.’’
Joshua Russo-Batterham | Tree Architect, Studio JNRB

The plan

From the design and construction of the first prototype of The Many Tree, the automated watering system, and the research on suitable plants, to the investigation and implementation of a suitable nourishment system for the tree – Joshua Russo-Batterham did everything himself. He conducted this research on the outdoor grounds of 'The New Block' on Strijp-S in Eindhoven. The research on The Many Tree became part of Dutch Design Week 2022, as The New Block participated in the event. Everyone could witness Joshua's work there, which led to connections with interesting partners for his project, such as the Municipality of Eindhoven, Eindhoven Design District, and Next Nature.

The Many Tree is a modular system, which makes the installation flexible. The choice of hydroculture allows controlled growth and the ability to produce many plants in a small space quickly. Perfect for cities.

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The execution

Initially, Joshua chose hops for the greenery of The Many Tree. This plant thrives in the Dutch climate and does well in hydroculture. Additionally, it's a fast grower, providing quick results. An added bonus is that you can brew local beer or make hop oil from the hop fruits. He is currently experimenting with other plants like passionflower and jasmine. The plant selection depends on the weather, the local community, and biodiversity needs.

With his hybrid approach to urban greening (partially built and partially grown), Joshua is experimenting in various locations in Eindhoven, including at the Evoluon (as part of the Next Nature network) and the city’s central station. Additionally, he is contributing to the municipality's plans to significantly increase greenery within the city ring in the coming years, for which the city council has allocated a substantial budget. With his research, Joshua is building an arboretum of hybrid greening forms, both for inspiration and to kickstart discussions on the value of green in our cities and as a practical solution to make cities greener with a flexible, scalable, and temporary approach.

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