From car park to National park. A storytelling idea

Making wild nature and hiking trails visible in urban reality through placing scale models

By Frits Ahlefeldt,

Could we “park”  models of national and local nature parks, in parking lots, to help people connect to them?


drawing of a car sized nature model in a car lot
Idea for an art-project: placing scale models of close by national parks in car lots

 Today most city and urban people see a lot of car parks and very few national parks… so I wondered: Could we move small scale models of the national and wildlife parks right into the car parks, to show people a different place to go to, tell stories about and to relate to?

The idea is simply to make car sized scale models of the national parks and place them in parking lots, mall centers, city squares etc. So when people went shopping or went to work in the city they would pass by these 3D models of very different natural worlds and be able to see how they can be hiked and enjoyed… and then they would start to talk about and to relate, first to the models and then to the real thing…

A lot of scale models of cities, historical quarters etc. all-ready exist. But as we today live in cities and need to strengthen our understanding of nature and the landscapes, the idea is to take this tradition of building small models of worlds, and extend it to models of national parks, placed in an urban context to make nature visible even in the middle of towns.

In mountain areas you can often find such models of the mountains with trails shown.  Hikers and locals use them both to understand the landscapes better, to see where they have been and to remember, to tell stories, give advice and connect their experiences to the different locations.

What could be great to do is to take these nature scale models and place them in the cities, so people can see how close and connected we often are to nature and the trails just outside town.

The models could be made of wood, bronze or other material and maybe even have the different places, villages and scenic points drawn up and secured by a clear coating. People would be able to explore them, meet around them and they would stand out both as sculptures and as a new kind of map connecting us better to nature outside the cities and malls.

For a second or a minute people could stop in front of the model and daydream / plan following very different, rough mountain and coastal trails in real life…  Or when they came back from the hike, they could go over to the model to remember and recall the experiences, maybe together with friends or family that have yet to see these places, to tell the stories and help them head out themselves.

The idea is to find new ways  to spark and tell stories of how we can connect and relate to nature, the trails and landscapes, even from inside cities.

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