Completed project. All photos courtesy: visiondivision
Sometimes something comes along that makes us all go "Wow!" Chop Stick is such a project. If we all used our resources as thoughtfully and thoroughly as these Swedish architects used their poplar tree, the world would not be in the state it is now.
Swedish architects Anders Berensson and Ulf Mejergren of VisionDivision have been commissioned to design Chop Stick, a concession stand for 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. They "sacrificed" a beautiful 100 foot poplar, to demonstrate how to make something new efficiently and respectfully.
Schematic of project.
The architects write:
The design is based on the universal notion that you need to sacrifice something in order to make something new. Every product is a compound of different pieces of nature, whether it is a cell phone, a car, a stone floor or a wood board; they have all been harvested in one way or another. Our project is about trying to harvest something as gently as possible so that the source of what we harvest is displayed in a pure, pedagogic and respectful way--respectful to both the source itself and to everyone visiting the building.
The raw material we selected is a 100-foot yellow poplar tree, the state tree of Indiana, known for its beauty, respectable size, and good properties as hardwood. We found a great specimen standing in a patch of forest outside of Anderson, Indiana. Our goal is to make the best out of this specific poplar tree, from taking it down and through the whole process of transforming it into a useful building that will be part of one of the finest art parks in the United States. As the project proceeds, we continue to be surprised by all of the magical features that are revealed in refining a tree into a building; both in the level of craftsmanship and knowledge of woodworkers and arborists, and also of the tree itself.
Tree in transport to final destination.
They are using every part of it; the bark is removed to make shingles, flowers and smaller limbs are saved "for later use." Wood is "extracted" to build the concession stand.
The roots have many edible features, such as root bark used to make tea and tonics that could be sold in the kiosk, for example. Pressed leaves and flowers taken from the tree will be ornaments in the front glass of the kiosk. There is also the possibility of extracting honey from poplar tree flowers, which could be something for sale on site. The branches that are less than five inches in diameter are cut away to prevent eventual rotting, and those can be used for details such as legs for the chairs and tables, or ground down into sawdust for use as insulation.
Tree set in place for finishing.
From the sacrifice of a single tree, they create tables, chairs, swings, the shingled concession stand and even root tea to sell in it. As they used to say about pigs, they use everything but the squeal.