Architecture – Have we ever stopped to wonder what plants have to say to us? Or what they need? What input can they give us to help us rethink the ecosystem to benefit the plant kingdom and our own? Curated by Małgorzata Devosges-Cuber and Michał Duda, the Greenhouse Silent Disco exhibition goes beyond preconceived ideas of plants as static and passive organisms and provides unexpected perspectives.
Visitors are entirely enveloped in the plant life around them as they walk in, along with their “conversation” in light and sound. Each plant is equipped with digital sensors that capture its reactions to various stimuli. They communicate with the system through the excess light they receive that they do not use in photosynthesis, a phenomenon referred to as chlorophyll fluorescence. These data are then translated into LED lights and sounds that can be interpreted.
“The greenhouse of the future is like a disco. The LED lights vary from blue to red and white depending on the plants’ needs. For example, they change color if it is cloudy or raining outside the greenhouse,” explains professor Hazem Kalaji, who curated and supervised the scientific aspect of the exposition.
Greenhouse Silent Disco is on show at the 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition until December 11. The project is promoted by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, which supports and brings attention to Polish design and culture on the international stage in cooperation with the Museum of Architecture in Wrocław.
Architecture firm Miastopracownia with graphic design by Nicola Cholewa and in cooperation with Magdalena Heliasz, took inspiration from natural fractals to design the wooden structure. The plants, kept in handmade artisanal terracotta pots, are multiplied into infinity by reflective glass walls.
An intense and profound relationship develops between the visitors and the plants in a clear evocation of Romanticism, the philosophical and literary matrix of the project. “The Romantics believed that only in nature could man truly be himself. So the starting point is to ask if we can draw on the wisdom of plants to inform our designs. And the answer is yes,” says Michał Duda.
All photos by Paolo Riolzi, courtesy of the Polish Pavilion at Milan’s 23rd Triennale.