Termite Pavilion

Beautiful Biomimicry

Post by Sophie Taylor | May 6, 2019

Curator: Bridget Nicholls | Partner: Dr Rupert Soar, Softroom Architects, Chris Watson | Sponsor: The Wellcome Trust, KLH UK, The Royal Commission for the Exhibition 1851, Royal Academy of Engineering, Artist Project Earth

Termite Pavillion At Pestival by Softroom, Photo: Joseph Burns

The Termite Pavilion was created as a live activation for a UK tour, to showcase how insect technology often inspires that of humans and highlight eco-friendly systems.

It was subsequently housed in London Zoo for four years before being moved to its permanent home in Escot Park, where it is being used as a teaching aid for biomimicry lessons.

A solid timber pavilion, inspired by Namibian termite mounds was installed outside the Royal Festival Hall. The installation represents a 6m3 section of a termite mound, scaled up x15.

Inside features true sound recordings and a lighting system that dims and brightens to simulate breathing.

Renewable energy

The team proposed that the insects’ ways of constructing their mounds will “have some serious implications on construction in the near future.” The mounds are renowned for their ability to regulate and control the internal environments, and the insects utilise only renewable energy sources to supply enough energy for their race to thrive.

Through light and reverberating bass, the temporary public space educated visitors about how termites control airflow and temperature in their homes. Inspired by Dr. Rupert Soar and Project TERMES (Termite Emulation of Regulatory Mound Environments by Simulation) research, Pestival approached Softroom Architects, specialist interior architects.

Human sized sculpture

Dr. Soar had accurately documented on a 3D computer programme the internal structure of Macrotermes michaelseni termite mounds and realised that existing theories on the ventilation of termite mounds could be challenged.

Dr. Soar approached Pestival on behalf of the Engineering Department of Loughborough University with a proposal to scale the mounds up and create a human sized sculptural experience. The Pavilion was installed at the centre of London Zoo from 2009 – 2013.

Termite Pavilion At Pestival by Softroom, Photo: Joseph Burns

The Termite Pavilion featured in Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Life in the Undergrowth’ Series

BBC – 24th October 2010

The Guardian 6 September 09

 

 

 

 

 

Video footage:

Termite Pavillion light demo by Haberdashery London

 

"It took me time to realise Bridget’s vision. I thought I understood at times but it was not until this weekend that I could see that Pestival is a seminal moment in the public’s interest in insects."

Dr Rupert Soar | Original concept for Termite Pavilion

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