John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The public sculptures provide nighttime light and shelter from the sun.
Ever wonder what it feels like being a honeybee on the prowl? Travel to Jerusalem’s Valero Square, then, where immense sculptures mimic flowers by yawning open when you draw near.
composed of four 9-meter high by 9-meter wide inflatable flowers, this project is part of the municipality’s effort to improve the urban space of the city center and in this specific case, of the [square’s] poor condition. the square is currently divided by a tram line into two urban spaces where facilities such as waste composters and an electricity sub-station patchwork the landscape.
‘warde’s attempt was not to fight the chaos but instead to try and lighten up the urban space, by spreading around these four elements that have a hint of fantasy, and with their help, overcome the reality of the square.
The blood-red flowers, which went in last year, detect the presence of passersby and the arrival of trains and respond by inflating with air. Their turgid state provides illumination at night and shelter from the sun and rain. When the square is empty they deflate like immense poppies withering on the stem.
It must be noted Jerusalem isn’t the first to use psychedelic flowers to jazz up public space. Seattle did the same in 2013 with 40-foot-tall blossoms that shimmer and sing to people in a nice, soothing chorus of oohs and aahs.