Responding to the 2015 Milan Expo theme (“feeding the planet: energy for life”) the UK Pavilion highlights the plight of the world’s bee population, focussing attention on the importance of pollination in our food chain.
The creative team was led by Wolfgang in collaboration with engineers Simmonds Studio, architectural practice BDP and fabricated by Stage One Ltd. The designers teamed-up with bee expert Dr. Martin Bencsik from Nottingham Trent University, who is undertaking cutting edge research into the behaviour of honey bee colonies.
The visitor is transported into the world of the honey bee, via a journey through archetypal British landscapes. The journey begins in an Orchard area with apple trees under-planted with a carpet of shade-tolerant wildflowers. The visitor then moves through a narrow transitional space, before discovering, at eye level, a British wildflower meadow. In plan, the meadow paths continue the hexagonal motif of ‘the Hive’ sculpture, sited at the far end, which seems to radiate into the landscape. The planting is seasonal and will change throughout the six month duration of the Expo. The culmination of the visitor experience is gaining entry to ‘the Hive’, an aluminium sculpture which glows and hums, in response to conditions in a real beehive in the UK.
The Hive is an abstracted analogue of honeycomb. A rotational twist in the structure introduces movement, suggestive of a swarm. The form is a 14m cube raised-up on columns, appearing almost to hover above the meadow. A spherical void hollowed from the centre, allows visitors to enter. Walking beneath the sculpture, visitors may peer up through the glass floor into the interior.
Artist & Creative Lead: Wolfgang Buttress
Architecture, Landscape Architecture And Environmental Engineering: BDP Structural Engineers: Simmonds Studio
AV & Graphic Content: Squint Opera
Pavilion Manufacture And Production: Stage One
Physicist and Bee Expert: Dr. Martin Bencsik: Nottingham Trent University Sound & Acoustic Consultants: Hoare Lea