Friday, April 9, 2010

The Seed Cathedral

This is Thomas Heatherwick’s Seed Cathedral, commissioned by the British government for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. It is made of 60,000 fiber optic rods that illuminate the inner chamber. At the end of each of these luminous wands is sealed a seed from the Millennium Seed Bank.

It's absolutely beautiful, but I also find it ominous. The recent concentration on the importance of seed banks seems like we are suddenly aware of nature's mortality. Apparently, we now feel that apocalyptic war or genetic tampering, or environmental catastrophe, of these will eventually wipe us and all of natural life off the planet.

It is hard not to imagine the Seed Cathedral standing in a barren, post-apocalyptic wasteland as a monument to the earth that was. I picture it as a utilitarian Stonehenge sparkling like a jewel, waiting for whatever life adapts to take our place long after we are gone.

Are we squirrels storing our nuts for the coming nuclear winter?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Richard,

    I agree - it's beautiful, but what I find really disturbing is that these world expo pavilions (so many of whom focus on sustainability) participate by constructing massive and expensive buildings for a temporary event. All of these efforts seem immensely shallow when one considers the UK pavilion cost over 30 million pounds and China is spending over 4 billion dollars for this 6 month event. Some of the countries report their buildings will be re-built and re-used, but for 30 million pounds? Is this really the best way for the world to share ideas and use resources?

    The whole idea of these kinds of boastful and wasteful expos seems so out-of-date and inappropriate. P.S. my final group project for school is to work on the "legacy" of the UK pavilion for the British Council. Should be interesting.