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castle & ingram: Re-establishing postglacial ecosystems with biota & video in Stockholm’s Hagastaden, Nya Karolinska Solna: castle & ingram’s proposal for public art as part of an Artists in Residence

castle & ingram

Julian Castle & Gordon Brent IngramBFA MSc PhD, side stream environmental design

May 14, 2014

proposal for public art explorations and consultations as part of an

Artist in Residence for Hagastaden, Nya Karolinska Solna

submitted to NKS Art Committee, Stockholm County Council Cultural Committee

Reference number: KN 2013/41 * posted at

A copy of this entire proposal in PDF is available here: castle-ingram-2014-proposal-artist-residence-hagastaden-nya-karolinska-solna-stockholm


This proposal for a 2014 – 2015 artist residency in Stockholm for Hagastaden, Nya Karolinska Solnaat centres on aesthetic responses to the environmental and micro-climatic constraints on and opportunities for use and enjoyment of urban public space from the building of higher density residential and office buildings. The focus in our proposed artistic research, form and content is on the particular successional phases that the lands that become the Nya Karolinska Solna precinct have supported since the retreat of the last glaciers. This residency is proposed as a dialogue with artists from a city, Vancouver (latitude 49°15?N), that has seen an exceptional level of recent building of higher density towers with extensive public art installations. And Canadian urban design and public art has a lively dialogue about urban microclimates and public art at relatively high latitudes such as that of Stockholm (latitude 59°17?N). In other words, the building of higher buildings at greater densities in Stockhom, while modern and sophisticated, will effectively make respective public open space darker and colder, even with climate change and rising temperatures, thus sending these public space back to earlier phases of post-glacial ecological succession. To make the public space attractive in these colder urban spaces, colder than usual for Stockholm, we propose re-establishing traces of the various successional phases of the development of Stockholm’s postglacial ecosystems. For this 2014 – 2015 residency, Gordon Brent Ingram and Julian Castle (‘castle & ingram’) propose exploring all or a portion of the following public art interventions for the new public space of Hagastaden:

1.installation of native soils, perennial plants, and some microscopic biota (mainly native grass, trees, and shrubs, and some bird habitat) as art installations sited in relationship to the various microclimates created by the higher buildings and outdoor spaces; as performance as art through the installation and re-establishment of these ecological traces (such as native soil, plants, and birds) as a series of ongoing (science-based) performances and public dialogues linked to urban ecology and community monitoring; illustrate this knowledge of Stockholm’s successional prehistory and history, various urban design features will be proposed as low-profile sculpture involving text, stone, soil, and detail on paving and possibly on buildings; deepen public experiences of the interventions listed above, a constellation of outdoor video sites at ground-level in the public open space across the project area with screens of various sizes, shapes and magnitudes, located to interact with the other public art insertions;

5.creation of an initial (post-glacial) set of multi-channel videos by castle & ingram for the various screens and a curatorial framework for ongoing series of screenings and original video works by selected artists;

6.a community-based, outdoor laboratory space as public art focused on the impacts of climate change (and sea level rise) on Scandinavian urban ecosystems to create space to develop ongoing explorations through collaborations with Stockholm and neighbourhood stakeholders, community groups, science and other research organizations, and artists; and

7.a web-based archive similar to a related castle & ingram project on green roofs ( with postings of text, photographs, video clips, and drawings.

‘castle & ingram’ are two members of a fifteen year old international collaborative based in Vancouver, side stream environmental design. Our group works on the cusp of public art, urban design, sustainability initiatives, ecological restoration, and social equity (especially in use of public open space). Ingram was appointed for several years as the urban designer on the City of Vancouver Public Art Committee. Roughly half of the contributors to ‘side stream’ have indigenous heritages and work with indigenous engagements in contemporary public art. Half of the duo, ‘ingram & castle’, is from a North American indigenous background and both are focused on art practices based on engagement with local biota, ecological restoration, and environmental and social histories. Our preferred media are photography, urban design detailing as sculpture, public art as part of urban open space, and video.

The particular dates and regular presence in Stockholm, necessary for this artist residence, is especially possible because castle & ingram have an 18 month project in the City of Geneva from mid-2014 to the end of 2015.[i] The Geneva project is focused on exploring experiences of losses of traditional crops for two divergent communities: metropolitan Geneva and adjacent Switzerland and France and the Salish indigenous communities in the Vancouver region. In Geneva, we will develop a series of public performances and presentations along with proposals for urban design interventions to re-insert traditional fruit trees and varieties into the public spaces of Geneva. This work in Geneva will be conducted under the auspices of the Utopiana artist centre and garden,

with the documentation for the castle & ingram project posted as,

with construction of a link to a separate archive a few months in the future. The proposed ‘post-glacial’ explorations for Stockholm may also involve some traditional, edible plants of the region.

uncertain impacts of towers on public space at high latitudes (appropriated from © Andersson Jo?nsson Landskapsarkitekter AB without permission) – montage by castle & ingram


This proposed residency explores the confluence of,

  1. empirical research on what factors make public open spaces functional and enjoyable for particular neighbourhoods, cities, and textures of urban architecture;
  1. research in archives on local histories and ecosystems and the recombination of certain details into an on-line archive as a kind of aesthetic practice;
  1. aesthetic movements around loss and re-establishment of heritage landscapes in urban areas that are postcolonial (and decolonial) and that contest simplistic and romantic notions of nature and engage with science, empirical research, and ecological monitoring as an aspect of popular culture;
  1. developing linked works of public art across constellations of public space especially in redeveloped neighbourhoods where densities and building heights are increasing:
  1. heritage food crops being displaced from landscapes, fields, and gardens and the wide range of conservation efforts from cultural to scientific
  1. the growing aesthetic movements engaged with re-inserting native ecosystems in public open space;
  1. re-establishment of certain local species, biota, and aspects of ecosystems as aesthetic practices and performances as contemporary public art;
  1. urban design and architectural detailing as public art (two and three dimensional) that references and transmits information on local ecology, history, and culture;
  1. the research and design movements to make public space between higher buildings for comfortable (especially for higher latitudes) and the interface with efforts to make contemporary art on these sites;
  1. community-based, urban ecology experimentation sites as forms of public space and public art;
  1. contemporary approaches to multi-channel video works on nature and environmental change; and
  1. the accelerating global movement to insert large, linked and multi-channel, video screens into public space as site-based art.

Sweden’s uncertain future ecological zones, montage by castle & ingram

problem statement

Higher density neighbourhoods, better balancing residential and workplace space and often relying on sleek towers, are increasingly viewed as embodying a relatively successful strategy for efficient use and conservation of energy, light for buildings, and public space – as well as for lowering carbon pollution into the atmosphere. However, a key and often neglected factor in the long-term success of such experiments is the vibrance of public open space (and public art) made enjoyable through careful location, siting and design of higher buildings so as to not block crucial winter, spring and autumn light. In other words, the higher and denser the towers in the higher latitudes (such as that of Stockholm), the more that public space is made cold and less enjoyable – effectively back to the earlier phases of the current post-glacial phase. And at Stockholm’s latitude, such microclimates created in public spaces, blocked by towers inappropriately designed and sited, would have a direct impact on the use and vibrance of a new precinct for nine months of the year.

The densification of Hagastaden will make the experiences and uses of respective public spaces, in this part of Stockholm, somewhat different (and sometimes colder and less comfortable). Towers create shade for long periods of the day – and, at higher latitudes, for months at a time. In Scandinavian summers, the shade from higher buildings can lower temperatures and impeded some of the pleasures of the few months of warm sun. We know this well in Vancouver, at the latitude of Paris, and note that there are virtually no precincts in northern Canadian towns that are higher density with even towers of moderate height. Ingram began conducting research on the ‘habitability’ of public open space in the mid-1980s under the noted expert in this field, Clare Cooper-Marcus, Professor Emeritus, College of Environmental Design, University of California Berkeley. So while many city precincts are thought to be ‘heat islands’, this redevelopment in Stockholm could move conditions in some public spaces back to earlier, post-glacial phases. So how could ecologically oriented public art, in such new spaces of urban density, reference both past environmental change and new trends such as rising temperatures, erratic weather, and rising sea level?

One artistic response to the constraints on and opportunities for art in the new public spaces for Hagastaden is to mark subtly and effectively celebrate both environmental change and sites of human comfort within public space. And native plants are one of the more understated and yet powerful ‘media’ to wed socially rooted experiences of public space with knowledge of local, urban and contemporary ecosystems. In this sense urban ‘landscaping’ when linked to urban design detailing and electronic media installations becomes a distinct genre of contemporary public art.


In our work in Stockholm, we would be exploring the following themes and aesthetic tropes for these new public spaces in a historic and relatively northern city:

  1. the relatively low diversity of tree and shrub species that have been established naturally in the Stockholm area, in various successional and climatic phases, since the end of the last glacial phase while celebrating the beauty of the various forms of these dominant grasses, shrubs, trees, and crops;
  1. the re-establishment of aspects of complex local ecosystems, including soil, as a form of contemporary and often performative artistic practice;
  1. alternatives to senses of loss of nature in the city grounded in romanticism and nostalgia with a focus on creating more opportunities to explore local biota even on urban sites constrained by public space;
  1. new ways to provide environmental and related historical information through urban design in manners that reach a wide array of social groups from speakers of the local language to immigrants, migrants, and tourists and for a range of cultural and educational groups;
  1. insertion of site-based, multi-channel video works in public space, especially at ground level, as forms of public art (and infrastructure) and as part of broader designs of urban space that comprise discrete public art works; and
  1. the spaces of community-based (and operated) ‘centres’ that span scientific research (and education) on urban ecosystems, urban experimentation and contemporary art – as perhaps a new kind of infrastructure emerging in the early 21st Century.

theoretical influences

All contemporary art practices in Europe, that engage around native plant species and vegetation ecology, owe a debt to Joseph Beuys and his 1982 landart, 7000 Oaks, presented in Kassel at documenta 7.[ii] The following are the other works in this mixed genre to which we will be referencing in this proposed residency:

  1. Robert Smithson, Alan Sonnfist, and after along with the recent re-examinations of 1970s landart as with the 2012 survey, Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles[iii];
  1. various artists over the years who have worked with gardens and planting forests and gardens such as New York-based Alan Sonfist[iv] and Canadian site-based artist, Ron Benner’s with his numerous garden works such as his 2008Gardens of a Colonial Present / Jardins d’un Present Colonial[v];
  1. recent works by individuals and collectives such as Los Angeles-based, Fallen Fruit, that plant food crops as part of site-based interventions[vi] and Canadian and Cree artist Duane Linklater’s blueberry garden[vii]; and
  1. a raft of theoretical and practice-related issues raised about so-called ‘permaculture’ gardens in the 2011 discussion of the UK-based collective, The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination with Lars Kwakkenbos and its 2009 pamphlet, 13 Attitudes,[viii] along with the 2010 essay on ‘tending’ as an art practice by Kelly and Gibson[ix].

activities under this artistic residence

During the course of this residence, castle & ingram would pursue the following activities while in Stockholm as well as back in their studio:

a)meetings and consultations in Stockholm as determined and arranged by the hosts;

b)meetings and consultations with community groups and local artists in Stockholm and in other parts of Scandinavia as determined by castle & ingram;

c)archival research in Stockholm on aspects of the city’s postglacial successions and cultural development;

d)empirical studies of the use of public space (and enjoyment of public art) in Stockholm;

e)discussions and partial modelling of the light and microclimates in the possible public sites available for art installations;

f)field work in natural and cultural heritage protected areas near Stockholm that suggest some of the ecosystems that existed, and the succession of ecosystems since glaciation, in the present location of the city;

g)test videos from these natural and cultural heritage protected areas near Stockholm to illustrate the kind of site-based multi-channel videography that could be inserted into the public spaces of the precinct;

h)research and some modelling of the possible impacts of climate change and sea level rise on the public open space (and ecosystems) of this redeveloped precinct;

i)exploration of the architectural and technological issues of installing large video screens in or adjacent to buildings at ground level (and the implications of local climate);

j)development of drawings and text to support public art proposals;

k)submission of draft proposals and ongoing dialogue about possible viability of aspects of these proposals;

l)participation in a range of public meetings as arranged by the hosts;

m)public presentations as performances based on the research and proposals; and

n)development of an on-line archive for our work in this residence.

artistic product

This 2014 – 2015 artistic residence in Stockholm would allow castle & ingram to complete the following work:

  1. a complete set of project documents and proposals in formats determined by the host organization in Stockholm;
  1. a proposal and report with at least 10,000 words in English and up to 100 drawings and conceptual designs including descriptions of consultation, archival research, field research, and recommendations on design and aesthetic solutions;
  1. at least 5, 10 minute videos of field research on the uses of Stockholm public art in public space and aspects of regional ecosystems that might be re-inserted into the public space of Hagastaden;
  1. a web site installation exploring the issues and possible interventions especially for this precinct in Stockholm (We could complete a simple web site similar to a related project on green roofs ( with postings of text, photographs, video clips, and drawings, probably only relying on simple public software such as WordPress.); and
  1. a web-based archive (as part of the project site) of digital material on similar aesthetic movements and contemporary art related to public open space, re-inserting local ecosystems, and community-based practices – that could be used to explain the proposals of castle & ingram and similar initiatives.

A scene of the densest neighbourhood in North America: the West End of central Vancouver where more than half of the buildings in this satellite scene are six stories or higher (with a large portion above twelve stories). Note the black shadow areas from towers well above 10 stories.


castle & ingram, as part of side stream environmental design, have vitae with numerous examples of work with and exhibiting with the following media:

1. consultation meetings around urban spaces and possible design and related aesthetic interventions with meeting interactions considered performative artistic practices (especially listening and interacting as foreign artists) and, when approved for public discussion, excerpts posted on-line with the possibility of use in exhibitions;

2. notes from archival research on past and contemporary Stockholm environments especially in archives in the city (and our efforts to decipher entries in the Swedish language);

3. urban design sketches, conceptual drawing and related photography and montage extending to site plans, sculpture, landscape species, urban design detailing, urban design text, performance, video installation, and proposed content of initial multi-channel videos (provided to Stockholm cultural offices and, when approved for public discussion, posted on-line with the possibility of use in exhibitions);

4. video clips of both consultation meetings and baselines for the projects (from natural and cultural areas near Stockholm) (posted on-line with the possibility of a subsequent exhibition); and

5. text in a series of proposals (at least 10,000 words) submitted to cultural authorities in Stockhom and, when approved for public discussion, posted on-line with the possibility of use in exhibitions.


Both Castle and Ingram are bilingual in English and French and will function in meetings in Stockholm through reliance on the English language. Ingram also has a basic command of Dutch, but this cannot be readily adapted to Swedish. Text will be based in English with some work with Swedish languages words and phrases (as related to text to be proposed as part of public art).

community engagement

At the heart of the work of castle & ingram, as artists and environmental planners, are community-based practices and design consultations. In the case of this proposed residence for 2014-2015, the community-based art practices will be defined within the terms of the broader consultations on redevelopment of this precinct in Stockholm. This, the work and practices of castle & ingram, described above, will also involve:

  1. meetings with Stockholm civil agencies and related government offices as advised by the host organization of the residence;
  1. meetings with a wider range of interested individuals, stakeholder groups, and representatives of community organizations; and
  1. meetings with and possible involvement of local artists involved in allied practices involving changing urban environments, public art, re-establishments of local ecosystems through contemporary art, and community engagement as a set of artistic practices.

A scene of the densest neighbourhoods in North America: central Vancouver, a metropolitan area of less than 4 million where at least a third of the buildings in this satellite scene (especially in the upper left) are six stories or more (with numerous well above ten stories

artist biographies

Castle and Ingram currently contribute to a fifteen year old, Vancouver-based environmental planning and design collaborative, side stream environmental design. The group is often concerned with public art within urban public space and involves over a score of artists and designers roughly half of which are of indigenous North American heritages and engaged in contemporising regional traditions. Of the side stream collaborative group, only castle & ingram have time availability for this artist residence in Stockholm for 2014-2015.

Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram

Brent Ingram is an environmental artist and designer from Vancouver Island in the third decade of his private practice with projects spanning North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. His formative educational and creative experiences were in the College of Environmental Design of the University of California Berkeley – a large centre for design and contemporary art integral to making that metropolitan region a global research hub. Brent is Métis, the large indigenous demographic group in Canada at a half million people, with his family having deep roots in northern British Columbia, the Yukon and northern Quebec. As well as early education in North-West Coast Indian art cannons, Brochu-Ingram’s aesthetics were formed through early introductions to contemporary site-based practices including West Coast Canadian iterations of Fluxus, the Image Bank and General Idea network on the West Coast associated with FILE Magazine, Robert Smithson, and Allan Sekula. Brochu-Ingram earned a BFA Honors degree in Photography at the San Francisco Art Institute focused on new portrayals of landscapes and went on to complete a Master of Science in Ecosystem Management and a PhD, on the cusp of landscape architecture and site-based art, at the University of California Berkeley. Part of those doctoral studies were based in Rome. Ingram has produced over ten group and solo shows including at Royal Institute of British Architecture in London in 1991 and Storefront Art and Architecture in New York in 1994. He is the author of over one hundred publications, including on loss and re-establishment of native forests, biodiversity and heritage crops and gardens and has taught public art and ecological design taught studios at campuses of the University of California, at the University of British Columbia, American University of Sharjah, and George Mason University just outside of Washington DC. Brochu-Ingram has been the recipient of over ten awards and project grants related to environmental and ecological design, public space, and site-based art. A full set of artist vitae for Brochu-Ingram is available in PDF at

Julian Guthrie Castle

Julian Castle, a dual Canadian and UK citizen, is a Vancouver-based videographer, photographer, archivist, cultural theorist, gardener, and public artist with over ten years of experience in the contemporary arts. He studied computer science at Dalhousie University and shifted over to digital media in the 1990s. He has over a decade of professional video camera experience and two decades of achievements around studying and archiving contemporary zines, comics and booklets. He is well experienced in semi-structured interviews the kind that are currently in vogue for artistic research (and better understanding and responding to uses of public space in Stockholm). His personal research interests have been in zoomorphic and anthropomorphic comic and other graphic depictions. In the last decade, Castle has become involved with site-based and environmental art participating in one exhibition in Kamloops, British Columbia, that he largely installed, developing websites such as . Other work that has informed his creative practice has including interviewing indigenous elders in northern British Columbia, and working on the field research and proposal phases of a number of projects centred on making public space more accessible to a wider range of social groups – as well as more evocative, interesting, and interactive. Castle’s artist vitae are available at is ‘roof’ web-site project.

internet documentation of the work of Castle & Ingram

Most of the recent castle & ingram projects, have been part of an environmental design and public art collective, side stream environmental design. This work is documented at a number of Ingram’s web-sites:

www.gordonbrentingram.cawith a site map for a series of linked project spaces & archives; most of the exhibited material; documenting project sites and contexts for the work along with project-based sites including; on a long-term project on ecologies of image, text, and public open space in Rome; and the cultures of green roofs developed by castle & ingram.

As for working with the native plants of Stockholm’s latitude, Ingram guided and conducted field research in a remote northern region on the British Columbia – Alaska border (once penetrated and temporarily controlled by Russia), where his family has a long history, and this early work is documented at, .

uncertain impacts of towers on public space at high latitudes (appropriated from © Andersson Jo?nsson Landskapsarkitekter AB without permission) – montage by castle & ingram


[i]The confirmation letter from the Utopiana artist centre for the 2014 – 2015 castle & ingram work in Geneva is posted at .

[ii] 7000 Oaks – City Forestation Instead of City Administration (German: 7000 Eichen – Stadtverwaldung statt Stadtverwaltung) &

[iii] Philipp Kaiser andMiwon Kwon (curators). 2013. Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974. Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in collaboration with Haus der Kunst, Munich.

[v]Ron Benner. 2008. Gardens of a Colonial Present / Jardins d’un Present Colonial. London, Ontario: London Museum.

[ix] Caleb Kelly & Ross Gibson 2010 Contemporary Art & The Noise of TENDING. Interference: A Journal of Audio Culture.