Thomas Heatherwick is a eccentric British inventor, famous for his work including the rolling bridge. His latest work for the Shanghai Expo is up against 249 pavilions vying to be the public's favourite. The BBC's Culture Show recently featured a interview with Heatherwick himself:
"The last thing the UK should be doing is some cheesy story having bowler hats and fog and double decker buses and clichés about the UK.
The brief we were given was that the UK pavilion, when there was voting, had to be in the Top 5; and that was quite interesting for a country of mild gentlemanly sensibility.
So this notion came up of a ‘Seed Cathedral’ and ‘seed’ sounds so insignificant and ‘cathedral’ is such a grandiose word. Seeds are trapped in these optics, each of which is 7.5m long, so just at the end, like the DNA of the dinosaur in Jurassic Park was trapped in the amber.
One seed might be the reason your grandmother lived 10 years more from a medicine that was developed from it, or another might be the reason that a country’s economy survives at al, dependant on the crop.
Each piece of amber projects from the outside into an interior space, where you can then look at the ends of 60000 of these optics, and the daylight leaches through from outside to illuminate them like stained glass.”