Our soils are alive! They are one of the silent pillars of our ecosystems. Every day, they feed us and allow the cycle of life to go on. They are the secret guardians of life on Earth as we know it. Since the era of Darwin, we have had the impression that all living beings on this earth are constantly battling in an endless race... However, scientists realised 150 years ago that there’s another extremely powerful mechanism that is driving the living communities on the planet: a real network of cooperation. Under our feet hides the incredible world of the rhizosphere. A world where cooperation is the rule. A world where the roots of plants live, communicate and exchange, in symbiosis with fungi. This symbiosis is called mycorrhizal symbiosis. It first came about around 450 million years ago and has survived through five widespread extinctions of life on Earth.
In light of the social and environmental issues we face today, the emergence of a collective and cooperative intelligence seems to be essential. Uniting to “work in harmony with nature” is the ultimate challenge of the 21st century. Will we be able to take inspiration from this underground cooperation? Through the root architecture of a century-old tree painted in blue, the visitor will embark upon a poetic journey into the life of soil. This display showcases the incredible cooperation that takes place under our feet every day, shown at a scale we can comprehend.
Alan Douchet was born in Paris and grew up in the Parisian suburbs surrounded by concrete buildings. He was passionate about art and turned his focus to architecture and spatial design. He was on a work placement in an architectural agency when he discovered landscape projects. From then on, he focussed his work more and more on landscape and nature, which had always taken a back seat until then. After obtaining a diploma in Spatial Design in Paris, he went to study at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture et de Paysage in Lille for 4 years. During his studies, he co-founded the association Lisière(s) and focussed his attention on the hospitality sector and re-opening the Jardin Écologique du Vieux-Lille. After graduating, he moved to Holland in 2016 and worked for an agency for a while before joining Amsterdam city council as a Landscape Designer. While he was there, he worked mainly on public spaces and met Tom Muller, Senior landscaper for the city of Amsterdam and planting design specialist in the city. He worked alongside Tom Muller and developed his knowledge of plants, plant palette design and 'naturalistic'' planting design, a style that was developed in Anglo-Saxon countries and made famous by Piet Oudolf and Nigel Dunnett. Since the beginning of 2020, Alan has been self-employed and shares his time between Paris and Amsterdam. His business is focussed on designing private gardens, carrying out freelancing jobs for agencies and working for local councils on exploration projects.