Lucy Bullivant explores the cathedral of seeds by Thomas Heatherwick.
April 27th, 2010
WORDS LUCY BULLIVANT
PHOTOGRAPHY DANIELE MATTIOLI
The UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010 looks like a hedgehog having a snooze.
At night his spikes glow like a giant halo. Tens of thousands of tiny points of light illuminate hundreds of seeds encased within the tips of 60,000 fibre optic filaments piercing the walls of the 25m structure set on a bed of angled silver astroturf.
Dubbed ‘the Seed Cathedral’ by designer Thomas Heatherwick, inside you can get a close look at the seeds at the ends of the filaments.
These cover the curvacuous inner walls in a giant hair-brush effect and gently undulate in response to changing light and wind conditions.
‘We made a deliberate choice to avoid having tv screens, flashing led lights and big text panels’, says designer of the Pavilion, Thomas Heatherwick. ‘It’s experiential and meaningful’, spelling out the human value of seeds, sourced from China by the Millennium Seedbank at Kew Gardens, now collecting seeds of 25% of the world’s plant species by 2020.
Running along three edges of the site in a canopied circulation zone is an exhibition about Nature in London curated and designed by the wunderkind interactive trio Troika, who are never boring.
Kinetic Light Rain Engines along one walkway, poetic and playful, lead to a translucent urban diorama and fictitious plants, for example, leaves that stop thieves, mushrooms that absorb sound, gold weed for making computers out of.
Concocted with scientists and biologists in a welcome Dunne + Raby-like designers-as-mad-scientists touch, their biodiversity has few limits.
UK Pavilion Shanghai Expo
INDESIGN is on instagram
The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed
Sometimes the most evolved designs are those left incomplete. When conceptualising the new Suncorp headquarters in Sydney, Geyer worked to the idea of ‘designing to 80 per cent’. The result is a radical take on workplace flexibility. While the building caters to its occupants in the present, it comprehensively avoids dictating their needs going into the future.