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Milan Expo 2015 Hive installation reassembled in London

Milan Expo 2015 Hive installation reassembled in London

A giant aluminium beehive that uses the activity of bees to give visitors an “experiential insight” into the life of a colony has been installed in the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.


Photography by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

The Hive, a 17m high and 40 tonne work which incorporates lights and music, was originally created for the 2015 Milan Expo.

The lattice installation, which is made up of 170,000 parts, was designed by Nottingham artist Wolfgang Buttress. Each part is assembled in 32 horizontal layers with hexagonal cells for a metal honeycomb effect and was etched with a reference number to make reassembly a possible.

The designer said the piece was “a multi-sensory experience that integrates art, science and landscape architecture”.


British artist Wolfgang Buttress. Photography by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images.

An array of almost 1,000 LEDS line the Hive’s internal void and are complemented with orchestral sound recordings.

A Kew spokesman said the work was “inspired by scientific research into the health of honeybee and has become a visual symbol of the challenges facing bees today”.

Buttress’s daughter Camille worked with the bands Spiritualized and Amiina and sounds from nature, such as queen bees buzzing and ducks quaking, to create a soundscape for the installation, while the light and sound intensity is controlled by instruments measuring the activity of bees in one of Kew’s real hives.

The work will stand in the London gardens until the end of 2017.

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