Nature often plays the role of inspiration when it comes to design, and for obvious reasons. This held true to Wolfgang Buttress’ UK Pavilion for the World Expo 2015 in Milan. The pavilion is part of the UK’s contribution, “BE,” the “virtual hive” designed to highlight the plight of the honeybee and offer an “immersive sensory experience” that leaves visitors with a “lasting flavor of the British landscape.”
Recently put on display, the pavilion takes visitors on a quest through nature where they begin at a small group of trees and continue through a wildflower meadow which surrounds the pavilion. According to the design team, visitors “follow the dance of a bee” through the landscapes. The journey includes information about the lifecycle of bees and their role in pollinating food crops.
The hive structure itself is a masterpiece, covering 14 meters cubed, made from a lattice of 169,300 pieces of aluminum and steel. To diffuse the integrated lighting, LED lights were set into resin and arranged around a dome-shaped void in the center of the structure. Audio and visual effects were integrated that respond to movements of an existing beehive in Nottingham.
The exhibit pays homage to bees, emphasizing the pressing issue of the dying honeybee populations. As stated by Buttress in an article by the BBC News in May of 2014, “My wish is for visitors to engage with the UK pavilion as a whole and for the hive to be recognized as a barometer for the health of the earth, drawing parallels between a hive and human society.”
Artist and creative lead.- Wolfgang Buttress
Pavilion manufacture and production.- Stage One
Structural engineers.- Simmonds Studio Architecture
Landscape architecture and environmental engineering.- BDP
Physicist and bee expert.- Dr Martin Bencsik – Nottingham Trent University
Area.- 1,910 sqm