With the concept of the beehive and how new research and technology are helping to address food security and biodiversity, the design of the pavilion highlights the plight of the honeybee. The pavilion boasts an impressive design, complex structure and explores the life of the bee colony through an immersive multi-sensory experience.
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The UK Pavilion has been awarded the BIE Gold Award for Architecture and Landscape at the 2015 Milan Expo. The announcement was made during a packed ceremony on 30th October -the eve of the concluding day of the 6 month international exhibition. During this period the Pavilion has welcomed 3.3 million visitors pitting it to be the top paid British attraction worldwide in 2015, and within the top ten UK attractions in 2015. The UK Pavilion was designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress, engineers Simmonds Studio and architects BDP and built by contractor Stage One. Responding to the Expo theme ‘feeding the planet’ the designers sought to highlight the plight of the honeybee, focussing attention on the importance of pollination in our food chain, by reinterpreting apiarian ecology as an immersive multi-sensory experience.
Buttress responded to the news saying: “I am very happy and honoured to have won this prestigious award; it is a fitting testament and acknowledgement of the dedication and professionalism of the whole of the team. If the project has raised awareness of the current plight of the bee then the effort has been worth it” This honour has been bestowed on top of the five awards already achieved to date, including the Blueprint award for ‘Best Public Use Project with Public Funding’ and the Italian Association of Architects award for ‘Best Pavilion Architecture’.
Artist Wolfgang Buttress leads a multi-disciplinary UK team to create the British Pavilion at the 2015 World Expo in Milan, the theme of which is ‘Feeding the Planet Energy for Life’.
The UK pavilion highlights the plight of the honeybee and ways in which new research and technology are helping to address challenges, such as food security and biodiversity. The UK pavilion draws parallels between human societies and the ecology of bees. Visitors meander through an orchard, discover a meadow of wild flowers and enter ‘The Hive’; which pulses, buzzes and glows according to live-streamed signals from a real bee-hive.
The hive is a 14m cuboid aluminum lattice structure, raised-up on columns, with a spherical void hollowed from its interior into which visitors can enter. The fine aluminum lattice is based on an abstracted-analogue of honeycomb, the effect is visually arresting and striking, yet permeable and delicate lending it an ethereal presence.
Accelerometers (vibration sensors) are used to measure the activity of a real bee colony in the UK, feeding real-time signals to a 1000 RGBW LED light array. Algorithms are used to convert the bee colony vibrations into lighting effects. Each light is individually-addressable allowing for the Hive to pulse and glow in response to the signals it receives, so acting as a visual representation of bee activity. Acrylic rods conduct light from the LEDs into hand blown glass bulbs which refract and diffuse this light. This unison of light and sound brings together art and science, through the research methods of Dr Martin Bencsik and the vision of Wolfgang Buttress. The pavilion explores the life of the bee colony through an immersive multi-sensory experience.