The Hive

  • Artists: Wolfgang Buttress
  • Location: Milan Expo 2015 / Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, London
  • Date: 2015 – 2016
  • Produced by: Simmonds Studio, architectural practice BDP, Stage One
  • External links: The Hive

Commissions Artist-led
Material and Skills Digital Sound Sculpture

The Hive was originally conceived as the centrepiece of the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo and was the first UK Pavilion to be reused and brought back to Britain after an Expo to be sited in its permanent home at Kew Gardens.

Its 170,000 pieces of aluminium form a 17m high, hive-like structure of latticework, controlled by the vibrations of honeybees in a hive at Kew that is connected to the sculpture.

The Hive consists of 32 horizontal stacked layers of hexagonal geometry creating an abstracted analogue of a honeycomb. A rotational twist in the aluminium structure introduces movement, suggestive of a swarm. The form is a 14m cube raised-up on columns, appearing almost to hover, a spherical void hollowed from the centre, allows visitors to enter. Walking beneath the sculpture, visitors may peer up through the glass floor into the interior.


The Hive


The Hive

Accelerometers (vibration sensors) are used to measure the activity of a real bee colony in the UK, feeding real-time signals to a 1000 RGBW LED light array inside the spherical void. Algorithms are used to convert the bee colony vibrations into lighting effects. Each light is individually - addressable allowing for the Hive to pulse and glow in response to the signals it receives, so acting as a visual representation of bee activity. This unison of light and sound brings together art and science, through the research methods of Dr. Martin Bencsik and the vision of Wolfgang Buttress. The Hive explores the life of the bee colony through an immersive multi-sensory experience.