June 22, 2012 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
At the intersection of architecture, science, and art, The Greenhouse and Cabinet of Future Fossils is a futuristic greenhouse “tunnel” with seating where, in in numerous portable and removable cold frames or mini-greenhouses, edible and ornamental plants are cultivated. The greenhouse prototype was artist and architectural designer Jenny Sabin’s intellectual exploration and re-envisioning of greenhouse architecture using digital design tools.
Sabin’s temporary installation was commissioned by the American Philosophical Society Museum for their garden as the hallmark of the Museum’s fall exhibition, The Greenhouse Projects, which presented five distinct but interrelated large-scale interpretations of historical themes and objects while connecting them to current relevant issues.
The main white HDPE plastic structure was supported by curving ribs that held 110 translucent, jewel-toned polycarbonate and lucite cold frames–or mini-greenhouses–filled with edible and ornamental plants.
The greenhouse’s many 2’ x 1’ x 1’ miniature cold frames were removable and portable–intended as incentive for for city dwellers to think about winter gardening in small urban spaces.
Inside the greenhouse, the “Cabinet of Future Fossils” displayed digitally produced ceramic art objects. below, inspired by forms in nature, yet not immediately recognizable as such.
Sabin, an Assistant Professor in the College of Architecture, Art & Planning at Cornell University, whose practice applies insights and theories from nature and science to the design of material structures, imagined a future era when people might be puzzled by these curious “fossil” remnants of the computer age, much as scientists have been perplexed by the fossil bones of animals who lived a long time ago. The greenhouse, by the way, is looking for a new home…