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, etc...one 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?