The Seed Cathedral in UK Pavilion’ (Shanghai Expo)

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office believe that the Seed Cathedral and UK Pavilion site will prove to be one of the Shanghai Expo’s star attractions.If u want to know more click here
The Seed Cathedral has already been nick-named Pu Gong Ying, translated as ‘The Dandelion’ by the Chinese public.

The Seed Cathedral sits in the centre of the UK Pavilion’s site, 20 metres in height, formed from 60,000 slender transparent fibre optic rods, each 7.5 metres long and each encasing one or more seeds at its tip.

Costing £25million to build, the 60ft-high cube-like construction which is covered by 60,000 quivering, transparent acrylic rods, received investment from eight Government departments and agencies.

The studio’s intention is to create an atmosphere of reverence around this formidable collection of the world’s botanical resources; a moment of personal introspection in a powerful silent space.

seed cathedral
 the tips of the fibre optic filaments form an apparently hovering galaxy of slim vitrines containing a vast array of embedded seeds.

During the day, they draw daylight inwards to illuminate the interior. At night, light sources inside each rod allow the whole structure to glow.

The Seed Cathedral is made from a steel and timber composite structure pierced by 60,000 fibre optic filaments, 20mm square in section, which pass through aluminium sleeves. The holes in the 1 metre thick wood diaphragm structure forming the visitor space inside the Seed Cathedral were drilled with great geometric accuracy to ensure precise placement of the aluminium sleeves through which the optic fibre filaments are inserted. This was achieved using 3D computer modelling data, fed into a computer controlled milling machine.

These fibre optic filaments are particularly responsive to external light conditions so that the unseen movement of clouds above the Seed Cathedral are experienced internally as a fluctuating luminosity.

The cathedral was organised by UK Trade & Investment, a government agency which promotes British companies abroad.

As the wind moves past, the building and its optic “hairs” gently move to create a dynamic effect.

The cathedral mirrors a scheme called the Millennium Seedbank run by the Royal Botanical Society at Kew Gardens where they are gathering a seed from every plant in the world to store and catalogue. 

seeds inside the optic fiber

Each eight-metre rod contains a different seed and Mr Miliband was there to push in the final pole to signal the completion.
Images courtesy of Thomas Heatherwick Studios&

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