YOYI! Care, Repair, Heal
16 September 2022 to 15 January 2023
Wed to Mon 10:00 to 19:00
All images © Matthew Crabbe / Natural Building Lab
As part of the exhibition YOYI! Care, Repair, Heal in Gropius Bau, 30 students from Natural Building Lab realised the Bee Hive – an 8m diameter dome, constructed from bamboo and earth – as a setting to exhibit films from artist Tabita Rezaire. The exhibition features perspectives from 25 artists on the entangled themes of care, repair and healing. Tabita’s works – including Singing Bee Garden (2021) – focus on how local, scientific and spiritual knowledge is handed down through generations and the installation should invite visitors to “rest within the womb of the earth”.
The week of construction in Gropius Bau was the culmination of a seminar in which a mixed group of 30 bachelors and master students were able to experiment hands-on with a 1:1 experimental construction. At the outset of the seminar, it was clear that a dome should be the outcome, the question was how best to construct it? In the first 3-day workshop the group experimented with different earth-building techniques and through trial and error, constructed a 1:1 prototype of the dome in the NBL Workshop. The second workshop involved finalising the material mixtures and forming the earth tiles for the floor. During the construction week, the group could rely on the experiences with the prototype to solve any problems that arose. The simple and robust nature of the structure and materials were perfectly suited to the task.
The geodesic dome was constructed from 15 overlapping bamboo struts, which were connected at their intersections with simple rope bindings and constrained at the base by a ring. This skeleton structure was then filled out by weaving thinner bamboo elements around the circumference of the half-sphere forming a stiff structure. An earth-straw mixture was then applied to the weave by hand from inside and outside – similar to the traditional wattle and daub technique. The earthen floor is composed of 40x40cm earth tiles covered with a thin earth plaster layer and finished using carnauba wax.
Making use of these regenerative natural building materials in a museum context shows ways in which institutions can reduce their reliance on one-way/short-term solutions for the exhibition context. The bamboo used for this project was retained from a previous installation realised by ZRS Architekten in 2016/17 and the earth-straw mixture can be dismantled and collected for reuse in the future. Apart from the 8 bolts used to connect the struts forming the ring, the project contains no other non-regenerative materials. In this sense, the installation is an embodiment of the exhibition’s key themes of caring, repairing and healing.