He must consider the wind, the sun and the moon when contriving his son et lumière effects.… he cannot see a city without wondering how it would look tidied up, revitalised, lit and mic'ed, then refracted through the lenses of a thousand TV cameras… Adam is Oz, manipulating levers from behind a curtain, while out front we see the mighty Prometheus of technical progress fused with physical excellence.
Will Self on Adam Wildi
All the World’s a Stage The Independent 22 October 2005
Is it just because of my British sensibilities that I came away feeling inordinately proud of how well the UK pavilion worked as a showcase for the best in British design integrity, both intellectual and creative?
It was a lesson in restraint. An elegant execution of Nottingham based artist Wolfgang Buttress's big idea - the importance of bees to our ecosystem - it tied in nicely with the Expo's overarching theme: more than a third of our food depends on bees as pollinators, and the UK pavilion celebrates the life and talents of the bee while addressing the growing threats to its population.
Visitors are introduced to the topic through succinct text panels in the wood-lined alcoves of the pleasant 'orchard' queuing area (and every Expo visitor will be grateful for some interesting reading while standing in queues for half an hour or more). Then comes a journey through a winding maze of waist-high corten steel banks lush with wild flowers. Mirrored walls create an expanded horizon and intensify the immersive, 'bee's-eye' view of the meadow, as does a soundtrack of birdsong and insect life. Inexorably, we are drawn towards a giant, thrumming hive that hovers at the end of the pavilion's long, narrow site.
Buttress worked closely with York-based creative construction and engineering company Stage One to realise this extraordinary hive, which appears to pulsate with energy, even before you encounter its spine-tingling soundtrack.Stage One is a vital part of this UK success story. Manufacturing everything in its own workshops, it is responsible for constructing iconic theatrical, sculptural, Expo and also Olympic ceremony structures, including Thomas Heatherwick's 2012 Olympic Cauldron.
Part-sculpture and part-landscape, Wolfgang Buttress’ UK Pavilion for the Milan Expo 2015 is both an experience for the senses and a reminder of the fragility of our natural surroundings. [It]… seeks to be a work of sculpture, landscape and experience – integrated at once as a journey for the visitor.
This desire for a layered narrative is apparent… in place of a single spectacle, the project carries its theme by means of a series of subtle motifs. Looking up at the hive from below, for example, its hazy cloud of aluminium – milled by York-based manufacturers Stage One – resolves itself as a helix of hexagonal cells, and draws you in like a worker bee…
This sensitivity to the inexorable passage of time is mirrored in the project’s palette of materials. From the wooden panels to the weathering steel, they were selected for their capacity to patinate…
Sound, in truth, is the main tool of the pavilion’s storytelling. Emerging from the meadow, one next comes across a cluster of bone conductors housed underneath the glass floor of the hive. They reveal the secret of bee communication – only recently unlocked by the research of Dr Martin Bencsik of Nottingham Trent University…
The irony to all these experiential sonic elements is the fact that the British design is arguably most remarkable for its aesthetic nuance.
…trenchant vision was required. Fortunately, Buttress has delivered this in spades, as evidenced by the strong link between his original concept sketches and the realised design.
The Buzz and the bees: A journey into the Hive
By James Haldane
The Architectural Review
1 May 2015
A short interview with – Adam Wildi, Senior Project Director, Stage One By KLH
“I first was introduced to Kirsten whilst working on the Olympic tender, as Project Director of Horse Guards Parade and the beach volleyball 2011 through to 2012. It struck me immediately that Kirsten leads KLH in real hands on sustainability; she talks in real terms, implementing real change to an event or project. It is more than the metrics for KLH. Kirsten forms part of the management team which differs from the usual bolt on consultancy, meaning that cost benefit goals are set out and achieved in spades, the situation becomes more sustainable as a whole because of this.
“The objectives we had to meet on the Olympics were demanding and KLH got us there admirably and Kirsten didn’t make the process feel onerous and as a result we achieved more than was required by LOCOG.
“I am personally concerned with the nature of demountable architecture and as such I understood that this partially meets sustainability targets, however I value Kirsten’s commitment to her work and I continue to consult with KLH on other projects.”
1 November 2013
Adam Wildi, Stage One director, says: 'When Wolfgang won the competition, we showed him our machinery and customised software and told him we'd produce the hive.
We altered his idea from a welded structure to a component-based one. The whole thing is built by hand.' After eight months in design, a team of eight engineers spent two months constructing the hive on-site, using 170,000 individual aluminium components. Assembled in 32 horizontal layers, the structure is composed of chords, rods and nodes, creating a network of Fibonacci spirals that give it its unique visual intensity and shape. LED light fittings embedded into the aluminium nodes are synchronised with data from an actual beehive in Nottingham, where advising expert Dr Martin Bencsik has placed an accelerometer to harvest information about bee activity.
The realisation that the gently pulsing lights and low thrumming soundtrack are generated by real bees makes the hive experience all the more affecting. Now that's what I call intelligent and meaningful use of A/V.
But it's not just the big statements that impress about this pavilion - the smaller, more people-centric ones do too. Having built the Shanghai Pavilion (Heatherwick's Seed Cathedral), Wildi knew what a pain the whole queuing experience was for all Expo visitors (queuing times for popular pavilions was more than an hour at Expo 2010 in Shanghai).
'We worked quite hard with a variety of people, including Wolfgang, BDP [which designed the landscaping, and the hospitality and conference areas], and some movement strategists and we talked a lot about how to queue.' The solution was to provide an interesting foyer to convey the science and layout the theme before entry, combined with a ticketed entry system (there's a 15-minute time slot for entry, with unlimited stay times).
Drinks and snacks can be bought from the ticket booth. The system is working well, says Wildi, even though visitor numbers are higher than expected - around 8,000 a day.
7 July 2015
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.”
11 May 2015
The evening began with the five flaming rings - the symbol of the Olympics - being lit on the flooded infield and ended more than three hours later with the lighting of the Olympic flame by Nikolaos Kaklamanakis, windsurfing gold medalist from the 1996 Games.
Hundreds of drummers performed a countdown to herald the start of memorable show that included an elaborate, balletic journey through Greece's rich and varied history.
Played out in a procession circling the stadium, the story included imagery from the previous occasions the Games were held in Athens.
Greece was the birthplace of the ancient Olympics in 776 BC and hosted the first modern Games in 1896 .
Athenians showed their delight in welcoming the Olympics back, giving the 9,000 performers a rousing reception as the theatrical show came to a close, before welcoming the athletes.
14 August 2004
In creating the Mobile Art Pavilion for Chanel, Zaha Hadid has developed the fluid geometries of natural systems into a continuum of fluent and dynamic space – where oppositions between exterior and interior, light and dark, natural and artificial landscapes are synthesized. Lines of energy converge within the Pavilion, constantly redefining the quality of each exhibition space whilst guiding movement through the exhibition. Hadid created an entire landscape for their work, rather than just an exhibition space. Visitors will be guided through the space using the latest digital technology developed in collaboration with artists.
“The fascination of the Mobile Art Pavilion is the challenge of translating the intellectual and physical into the sensual – experimenting with completely unexpected and totally immersive environments for this global celebration of the iconic work of Chanel I see the Pavilion as a kind of a total artwork that continually reinvents itself as it moves from Asia, to the USA and Europe,” states Zaha Hadid.
13 March 2008