Tuesday, December 6, 2011

L'arbre de Flonville by Oloom & Samuel Wilkinson

Made by Samuel Wilkinson in collaboration with Oloom, L'Albre de Flonville is in Flon, the central district of the Swiss town of Lausanne. The work is part of a project to upgrade the entire area. Samuel Wilkinson, starting from the general concept of Public Square, set familiarity as a starting philosophy because the Square is a central meeting point for the citizens and it needs seating, shade and the opportunity to fully interact with its surroundings: buildings, flows of people and spaces, all in a modern and engaging context.  
Situated in Lausanne’s new Flon quarter. It is one of the first major works to be completed in a series of architectural and street furniture projects, as part of the regeneration of the area undertaken by Lo Holding group.
Taking the general notion of a standard public square as a starting point, the designers considered how best to create a space of familiarity, whilst still producing something both modernistic and engaging.L’arbre de Flonville is a metal tree created by British designer Samuel Wilkinson in collaboration with Swiss designers Oloom. The structure provides shade and seating in a public square in the new Flon quarter in Lausanne, Switzerland. The designers claim it is a modern interpretation of the tree as a meeting place in a town square.
The steel framework supports a canopy made from larch wood to proide shade, and steel ‘roots’ extend across and beyond the square, forming seating.The gigantic tree is 12 meters high, it has a canopy of wooden staves 16 meters wide, it is surrounded by roots that serve as benches, arranged symbolically to indicate some directions to other places in the city.At night the canopy and underside of the seating is illuminated by computer-controlled LEDs. The construction is 12 metres tall and spans 16 metres. Colour changing LEDs, hidden both in the tree and on the underside of each root, provide an added visual dynamic at night.
The crown is composed of five sides and was built with wooden planks of larch [very common in Switzerland] that give shade to people seated on the benches while they rest and meet each other.
placed in the tree so that the Square seems living 24 hours 24. the lighting is the strong point of the installation that, along with low power consumption LED, shows how even an artificial tree is friend of nature.


Driven by the specific criteria of a central meeting point, the need for seating and shade, and to visually communicate with spaces outside the square, the project evolved into a 12m high x 16m wide, contorting metal tree with a slatted wooden canopy. The tree is surrounded by roots that emanate out into different areas both in and beyond the square.

The designers developed a five-sided typology which allowed enough freedom, by drafting each face in turn, to grow the elements into derived botanical forms. The tree was grown manually (via 3D software) from the trunk outwards, each face splits to continue to form a new branch. The main tree weighs approximately 30 tonnes, consisting of a tubular steel infrastructure clad in painted 2mm stainless steel.
The larch canopy constructed from cylindrical wooden cross beams, 200mm in diameter, covered with lathed 40mm x 80mm lengths at 80mm intervals. The slats are directional and orientated to provide ideal shade. They create a interplay of perspectives that can be seen when walking below. Larch was selected for its warm character and excellent resistance to moisture under extreme weather conditions. No coating was applied, to allow the canopy to fade naturally, introducing an added graphical element while ageing.
Constructed in 2.5mm folded stainless steel mono-hulls, the roots tie the tree into the surrounding building complex. The sculptural roots weave through the square guiding the flow of visitors toward the commercial, entertainment and service centres of Flon-Ville. Designated roots are ergonomically shaped for social seating.
The red tartan floor links the city of Lausanne with the main arteries leading into the Flon area. As an urban ground covering, it offers a muted acoustical and visual environment. At ground level the surface has a thickness of 1 cm, contrasting to 6cm on the triangulated reliefs. This creates a subtle softness and intimacy directly beneath the tree providing visitors with an alternative seating option.The project provides a 21st century representation of the neo-romantic ideal of a tree in the village square – a common place for people to meet, contemplate or just sit and watch the world go by.


Faithfulness to and respect for the Flon area’s artistic calling led the LO Holding group, in collaboration with several International designers, to dream up an overall concept for exterior developments that will harmonize with the new architectural line and identity of one of Lausanne’s flagship areas. Ten street furniture projects, selected for their functional relevance and innovative design, will come into being from November 2007 through the end of 2008.

The purpose of this exterior development work is to provide real added value while re-establishing Flon’s reputation in terms of artistic creation. By calling on the expertise of industrial designers, manufacturers, engineers and architectural lighting specialists, all given the mission of investing Flon with a unique character, the LO Group is showing its desire to offer the people of Lausanne a decisively contemporary environment.
The projects currently underway include a pergola created by Atelier Oï studio, chairs, children’s toys, a community vegetable garden, and glass parallelepipeds for exhibitions. When complete, they will be a lively addition to the area’s urban landscape. Explanatory signs and informative markers will help passers-by to appreciate fully the various spaces. Flon-Ville’s L’arbre de flonville is a spectacular start to the series of creations marking the artistic renaissance of the Flon area, providing its western part with an innovative space that is open to all.


12 meters
16 meters
30 metric
Infrastructure of tubular steel
Shell Stainless-steel - 2 mm
Stainless Steel - 2mm
Multiple coats of anticorrosion paint (Monopol 2-component white 9010)
tree and roots
Computer controlled colour changing LED’s
red/burgundy Tartan rubber, with gloss surface treatment


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