British artist Wolfgang Buttress to design UK Pavilion at Milan

A structure inspired by the unique role of the honeybee will represent the UK on the world stage at the Milan Expo in 2015.

At a ceremony in Rome today, Prince Harry announced that Nottingham based artist Wolfgang Buttress has won the competition to design the UK Pavilion for the next Universal Expo.

British construction engineers and build teams Stage One and Rise have won the £6 million contract to build the winning design. Together the winners represent Nottingham, York and London, with the contracts bringing new jobs to the three regions.

Welcoming the announcement, Trade Minister Lord Livingston said:

“Success in international markets is at the heart of the Government’s long-term plan to build a stronger, more competitive economy.

“The UK’s participation in the Milan Expo will promote the UK’s world leading expertise in the creative, life sciences, agri-tech, and food and drink sectors to our top trade and investment partners.

“Through the UK Pavilion, we will reach millions of visitors and build on the reputation of the UK established at the 2010 Shanghai Expo and the London 2012 Olympic Games.”

Winning artist Wolfgang Buttress opened his first studio in Nottingham after graduating in 1987 and now employs seven people. Over the last two years he has won numerous national and international awards, including the International Structural Steel Award for projects under £2 million in 2013. Earlier this year he received the Kajima Gold Award in Japan for his work ‘Space’.

Wolfgang Buttress said:

“I’m happy and honoured that I have been selected for this prestigious commission. My wish is for visitors to engage with the UK Pavilion as a whole and for the hive to be recognised as a barometer for the health of the earth; drawing parallels between a hive and human society.

“I’m very excited to have this opportunity to work with such a great team, it’s an amazing challenge and one we will rise to together.”

Once the UK Pavilion is built, visitors will walk through a fruit orchard and enter a natural wildflower meadow. As they near the centre of the meadow, the focal point of the structure will come into view: a golden orb made of fine steel lattice based on the design of a honeycomb. The ‘Hive’ will pulsate and buzz with the noise of a real bee colony.

The UK Pavilion at the last Universal Expo in Shanghai 2010, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, attracted international acclaim and won gold for best design. In the duration of the six month Expo more than eight million people went inside the ‘Seed Cathedral’, making it the UK’s most visited tourist attraction during that time.

Commenting on the £6 million building contract win, Bob White, Chairman of Rise MC said:

“We are very excited to be involved in the UK Pavilion at Milan Expo. It enables us to sustain our particular interest in temporary structures, and allows us to continue our collaboration with Stage One on these project types.

“The design of the Pavilion includes some innovative structural solutions which allied with the focal attraction of the ‘Hive’ will delight the discerning visitor’.

Mark Johnson, Managing Director of Stage One said:

“We’re delighted to have been selected to construct the UK Pavilion at the Milan Expo. This is a significant project for Stage One and reflects our increasingly strong relationship with architects and designers. It’s a strong validation of our collaborative approach and our ability to deliver creative construction projects successfully.”

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