78 DESIGN FILE UK PAVILION, EXPO, MILAN
LIGHTING • JUNE2015
UK PAVILION, EXPO, MILAN
The UK Pavilion at this year’s Expo in Milan is
themed around bees and their importance to our
environment. Visitors step into a tall ‘hive’ inside a
large aluminium and steel cube lit by 1,000 LEDs that
increase and decrease in intensity – mimicking the
way bees behave. Acrylic rods conduct light from the
LEDs into hand-blown glass lamps that refract and
diffuse the light.
The LED lights are individually addressed by a
DMX system that links them to a real beehive in
Nottingham in the UK. The bees’ activities are
monitored from the roof of Nottingham Trent
University by physicist Dr Martin Bencsik using
accelerometers – devices sensitive to minute
vibrations – that detect and translate the vibrations
made by bees as they communicate with one another.
Meanwhile, deep, heavy tones from what sounds
like a cello rehearsal engulf the visitor in a constant,
vibrating buzz, creating an almost meditative
sensation inside the hive-shaped LED dome.
UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) said this union
of light and sound brings together art and science
through the research methods of Dr Martin Bencsik
and the vision of architect Wolfgang Buttress.
The data, and the light, changes throughout the day
and tends to get more intense towards the evening.
There is more activity at the top of the hive where the
LEDs sit closer together.
The lighting design is by architecture and design firm
BDP and Lumenpulse AlphaLED supplied spotlights.
When the Expo finishes in October, the hive will
live on – the plan is to dismantle it and rebuild it
somewhere in the UK.
The 1,000 LEDs vary in intensity according to the activities of bees
in a Nottingham beehive