When the art collective Mothership wanted to add more green space to the Dutch city of Rotterdam, it looked to the ocean.
In March, Mothership will plant 20 trees that will bob in recycled buoys in the city harbor. They will collectively make a small floating forest in Rotterdam's historic Rijnhaven, which will host a number of other floating architecture projects until 2018.
"The Bobbing Forest is an opportunity to honor the harbor basin in a special way," Mothership founder Jeroen Everaert tells Tech insider. "The project also feeds the support for more green in the city center."
The team was inspired by sculptor Jorge Bakker's work, "In Search of Habitus," which featured a series of miniature trees on plastic buoys in an aquarium in the 1970s. Mothership wants to make that vision come to life on a larger scale with "Bobbing Forest."
Mothership has worked on making prototypes for floating trees since 2013, with plenty of challenges along the way.
Like any other living organism, the trees had problems with sea sickness, Everaert says. When the waves were rough, they stifled the trees' growth. After Mothership worked with environmental engineering students from a local university, the team found the Dutch Elm could flourish even in choppy saltwater waves. The group discovered the Elm grows quickly, has strong wood that's resistant to water and wind damage, and requires little pruning.
The team will replant 20 trees from the city's tree bank, which contains trees that were dug out from different parts of Rotterdam during construction.
The idea is to explore the relationship between city dwellers and nature, while also adding green space. Everaert says it could even serve as a model for future parks in the city.
Since this specific part of the harbor is currently unused, he says it's an ideal spot for "Bobbing Forest."