Location: Expo Milan
Type: Cultural – Public
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
Under the title ‘Grown in Britain & Northern Ireland’, the UK’s response to the Milan Expo’s theme ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ is a 1,910 square metre Pavilion boasting an impressive design and complex structure, successfully delivered by creative construction and manufacturing company Stage One.
Award-winning British talent has been selected by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to conceive and build the Pavilion for the World Expo 2015 opening in Milan on the 1st of May. It is developed around the concept of the beehive and how new research and technology are helping to address food security and biodiversity.
Designed by Nottingham-based artist Wolfgang Buttress in collaboration with engineer Tristan Simmonds and Manchester-based architectural practice BDP, the immersive Pavilion has been entirely manufactured and constructed by York-based firm Stage One.
Appointed as main contractor by UKTI before the design competition was awarded, Stage One was involved in the selection of the winning design, advising the judging panel on the feasibility of the shortlisted schemes.
Visitors to the Pavilion follow the dance of a bee, travelling through a series of landscapes. The experience starts with a journey through an orchard, followed by a wildflower meadow and on to an impressive centrepiece: The Hive, a 14m-cubed sculptural element that uses light and sound to simulate the activity of a real beehive.
Machined and fabricated at Stage One’s factory just outside York, the Hive is constructed from 169,300 individual aluminium components. Assembled in 32 horizontal layers, the structure comprises three main components: chords, rods and nodes. The concentric zig-zag shaped chords form the main body of the hive and are connected to rods measuring up to one-metre long. Semi-circular nodes located at the intersections of the overlapping chords provide connection points for the rods.
Fundamental to the Hive concept is the spherical void in the centre of the Hive, which allows people to walk inside and experience the sensory representation of the bees’ activity. The LED light fittings, embedded into the aluminium node components, glow and pulsate to represent the activity captured via an accelerometer within a real beehive located almost a thousand miles away in Nottingham.
Adam Wildi, Senior Project Director at Stage One, said:
Being appointed as Main Contractor for the UK Pavilion at Milan Expo 2105 was real validation for Stage One as a significant player in the field of complex demountable architecture. Our client UKT&I was particularly enlightened and allowed us to manage the project in an efficient and controlled manner. There have been challenges in terms of sheer volume of Hive components and a very compressed programme. Nevertheless, we are delighted to have created an astonishing pavilion in time for the opening of Expo on 1st of May.
The intricate structure and the logistical complexities overcome by the project’s team demonstrate Stage One’s expertise in delivering installations and pavilions for architectural, artistic and entertainment events, such as Olympic Games Ceremonies and every Serpentine Gallery Pavilion since 2009.