The Urban Physic Garden is a truly innovative project, bringing the concept of a physic garden into the 21st century, as a space to educate and inspire people about the healing power of plants and food as medicine.

The Urban Physic Garden emerged in a derelict unused space as a platform for sustainability. This was truly a space to experiment, from the use of salvaged and reclaimed materials, to waste management (we partnered with LooWatt, utilizing anaerobic biodigesters to transform the waste from our compost toilets into energy, which ran the ambulance-turned-café). The UPG showcased and tested new ideas in sustainability including rainwater catchment and irrigation systems, vertical gardening, aquaponics and algae farms and wormeries.

UPG provided an exciting prototype for a new form of community urban green space – ambitious and design-driven, privately run but highly inclusive, free and open to all, with tremendously innovative new content, commissions and programming.

Using the language and structure of a hospital and pharmacy, the Urban Physic Garden (UPG) celebrated the medicinal potential found in our back gardens to promote health and wellbeing in urban environments. The garden evoked a living hospital with structural frames inspired by a pharmacy cross. These structures formed various garden rooms- or hospital wards- hosting relevant plants found in both herbal remedies and modern medicine. For example, the Cardiology Ward contained foxglove, rosemary and hawthorn whilst the Gastroenterology ward contained peppermint, caraway and ginger. A disused ambulance was turned into café, run by the pop-up supperclub, Rambling Restaurant.

A series of artist collaborations, including Tom Foulsham’s irrigation pipe system, which hovered over the garden and rained down on the plants in water events, a moss covered pharmacy cross by Anna Garforth, a ping-pong skip by Oliver Bishop-Young, and the UK premiere of their imaginative see-saws and mobile-plants, first shown at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2010. The project also brought together a host of exciting partners, including Kings College, Tate Modern, Bankside Open Spaces Trust, Living Medicine, and many more.

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