Wallpaper* Handmade Exhibition - Rotunda Serotina
The Arcade via San Gregorio 43 Milan 14-18 April 2015
We joined forces with architects Kolman Boye and The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) to create this installation for Wallpaper* Handmade 2015 exhibition in Milan.
The Danish/Swedish architects Kolman Boye were invited by Wallpaper* to design a candy-store concept for doling out free savoury biscuits from local bistro T’a Milano. For this particular project they found inspiration in skeletal structures, and were further influenced by the old-fashioned general store taking apothecary shelving to extreme heights.
We worked alongside the designers from day one. Sharing their respect and enthusiasm for traditional Japanese joinery techniques, we used square peg joints, cutting hundreds of square holes, not easy, but a strong component of Japanese joinery. In total we made 3,084 separate pieces connected by 1,008 joints to make up the ‘skeleton’ of the Rotunda together with 528 trays for the surface layer, all made in American cherry and assembled without the use of nails, screws or glue.
The vast columns of shelves are arranged in a cylindrical shape so that a single ladder can slide around inside the structure to scale every shelf. Each shelf in the Rotunda holds rows of cherry-wood snack trays that visitors can take home as limited-edition samples from the exhibit.
During the manufacturing process, we have recorded all material inputs and energy consumption allowing us to assess the environmental impact for each object, using data from AHEC’s Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) research for 19 American hardwood species. Life Cycle Assessment is a scientific tool that helps industry to establish environmental frameworks that have real meaning and assess true sustainability. The results present the cradle-to-grave impact of creating transporting and installing the entire structure for six impact categories, including global warming potential (GWP), or carbon footprint.
More information about the project can be found at www.rotundaserotina.info
The architects liken the structure to a set of “bones” and the serving trays as “skin”. “We liked the idea of giving away the skin so only the bone remains."
The Rotunda is carbon neutral on a cradle to grave basis. The carbon emissions associated with delivery of the wood and fabrication of the structure is more than offset by energy generated from offcuts and disposal at end of life.
For visitors not used to seeing the striking pale-pinkish red timber in their surroundings, the emergence of Prunus serotina will be a revelation. Gone are the traditional reddish, highly lacquered connotations of cherry. The contemporary porous appearance of the wood fits in beautifully with the current vogue for raw, rugged timber.