Fallen Fir Gets New Life in Former Logging Town

© Rodrigo Caula. The 'Ingrain' bench.

Visitors to Vancouver's Granville Island who stop to rest on Rodrigo Caula's crisscrossed public bench are sitting on history -- a 205-year-old Coastal Douglas fir that represents the city's past and, hopefully, its future.

Canadian industrial designer Caula and his collaborators, Brian Tong and Karston Smith, worked with the City of Vancouver to obtain the fallen old-growth tree, a symbol of the vast forests that once covered the area and fueled its first major industry, logging and lumber export.

© Rodrigo Caula. The fallen fir being carried away.

"The city of Vancouver has a past that is bound intimately to the land," Caula writes on his website. By turning the old tree into a public bench, a project he dubbed "Ingrain," the team's "intention was to give it new life and to use its story as the foundation of a movement that seeks to better respect our precious resources."

© Rodrigo Caula. Construction of the bench in progress.

The reclaimed street furniture found a home on Granville Island, an area that has witnessed its own transformation -- from an industrial hub to a shantytown surrounded by a toxic sewer, and then to a landmark urban redevelopment that honors the area's industrial heritage and ecological bounty.

Caula hopes his bench project and related public installations and educational initiatives will similarly help connect locals and visitors with Vancouver's past.

© Rodrigo Caula. The 'Ingrain' bench.

"In utilizing the 205-year-old giant [tree], we create a story through the manipulation of the wood and how it creates a connection to Vancouver. This ultimately has the capacity of being able instill a deep sense of appreciation of our land and resources," he writes. "We want the bench to be proof of the potential of what our resources possess, but what those resources become, waste or treasure, is up to the public."

Tags: Cities | Forestry | Furniture | Recycling | Urban Life | Vancouver

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