By day, the rods allow light to be naturally transmitted through the building and literally high light the objects on display within, by night it is lit from within the rods, so not only are the seeds backlit but the transmits light out letting the exterior twinkle and sway in the breeze.
Seed Cathedral, is the creation of Thomas Heatherwick, the winning design chosen to represent the UK Pavillion at the Shanghai 2010 Expo. The 'Cathedral' was designed to show the United Kingdoms take on the theme "Better City, Better Life" and, shunning the high-tech pavillions which one would anticipate at such events, Heatherwick chose to create a low-tech green space which linked the city and nature, but also to the incredible significance which seeds have on our environment.
Together with Kew Gardens and the Millennium Seed Bank Project, the Seed Cathedral contains 25,000 seeds, cast into the top of each of the 60,000 acrylic rods which penetrate the building to create the undulating interior walls. However, this is only a small quantity of the seeds the project is trying to collect. By 2020, the Millennium Seed Bank Projects is hoping to collect the seeds of 25% of the worlds plant species, which can then be germinated, studied and reintroduced as these species become threatened by extinction. The Seed Cathedral shows the frozen potential of something which on first sight looks incredibly small and vulnerable, but are of great importance to our future.
If you think that the name Thomas Heatherwick sounds familiar, especially to British readers of my blog, it may be because Mr. Heatherwick designed the spectacular cauldron which was raised up to create the Olympic flame at London 2012. He also designed the beautiful Rolling Bridge, which curls its way across the water at Canary Warf in London, as and when it is needed.
Now, I know this particular design is two (nearly three) years old, but it is spectacular and I rediscovered it a few weeks before the Olympics began - in fact this post was originally just on Heatherwick and I failed to finish writing it as the Olympics arrived and it felt like I would just be jumping on the band wagon. Though, that said, I didn't know Heatherwick had been involved in the Olympic designs until the opening ceremony and sat in awe as it gradually took shape.
When you're in art school, there are certain designers which are always being touted around as design heroes, two which are regularly trotted out being Phillip Stark and Vienne Westwood, so I never really talk about design heroes. However, of the designers I truly adore and admire for their work (Tord Boontje and Jacqueline Ryan being two I love) Thomas Heatherwick has definitely over the last few years become another. I think his designs are wonderful. Hope you do too.
Link | Thomas Heatherwick
Link | Kew - Millennium Seed Bank Project
Link | Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at the Shanghai Expo 2010
Link | Treehugger: Awe Inspiring Seed Cathedral Wows at Shanghai World Expo 2010 (Photos)
Link | BBC News - Inside World Expo 'Seed Cathedral'
Merry Christmas! Part two tomorrow...
Listening: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas- She & Him