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A Giant Beehive for Humans Is Buzzing in Milan

Artist Wolfgang Buttress orchestrates an audiovisual augmented reality honeybee experience for the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo.

An architectural apiary that combines aluminum and LEDs with augmented reality rises above this year’s Milan Expo in artist Wolfgang Buttress’ UK Pavillion design, The Hive. Last year, we previewed Buttress’ concept, which aims to highlight the delicate condition of bees with architecture. Now realized by the team at Stage One, The Hive encompasses a total area of 6,260 square feet in five themed areas, each of which orchestrate an audiovisual experience of bees.

Upon entering, visitors step into an orchard of British fruit trees with walls designed to invoke the ambience of an English country garden. Through an “earthy corridor of corten steel, open to the sky,” the orchard feeds into a live “meadow experience,” which changes and grows with its population of plants. Within the meadow, visitors partake in a “bee dance” of winding pathways ending with a chance for rest and reflection in the meadow’s amphitheatre.

In the upper level, visitors can stop off at the terrace or architectural program on their way to the pavilion's glimmering namesake, the "hive" itself. Raised above three columns in a 45 cubic foot 3D aluminum structure, it live-streams audio and visuals from off-site beehives for an augmented reality excursion into the innards of a bee colony. “Audiovisual devices embedded within the structure allow it to pulse, buzz and glow according to signals from a real beehive,” explains the artist’s press release. “Accelerometers measure the vibrational activity of the real bees and these signals are fed into an array of LED lights within the sphere to generate a dynamic, visual representation of the bees’ activity.”

The Hive will be open to Milan Expo visitors from opening weekend on May 1, through October 31. Get lost in Buttress’ incredible architectural buzzings below.

UK Pavilion at Night ©Crown Copyright, Photographer Credit - Hufton+Crow

UK Pavilion by Day ©Crown Copyright, Photographer Credit - Hufton+Crow

UK Pavilion by Day ©Crown Copyright, Photographer Credit - Hufton+Crow

UK Pavilion Hive Structure ©Crown Copyright, Photographer Credit - Hufton+Crow

UK Pavilion Hive Structure ©Crown Copyright, Photographer Credit - Hufton+Crow

To learn more about the project, visit Wolfgang Buttress' website.

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