I have to admit that, however over-exposed this building might be, it is one of the coolest architectural constructions I've seen in a long time—and while I say that in the most superficial way imaginable, i.e. I just think it looks really, really cool, this structure, the so-called "Seed Cathedral" by Thomas Heatherwick, under construction in Shanghai for this summer's 2010 World Expo, has an amazing ulterior motive: at the end of every one of the 60,000 transparent acrylic rods that you see fuzzing outward into the sunlight are the seeds of plants.
[Image: The seeds revealed; photo by Aly Song for Reuters, via The Big Picture].
From the New York Times last autumn: "Heatherwick and his team worked with Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership to showcase Britain’s commitment to conservation. They encased thousands of seeds in the ends of the transparent rods, creating a larger-than-life catalog of the plant species that contribute to national and global conservation programs, in a veritable cathedral of seeds."
[Images: Thomas Heatherwick's "Seed Cathedral" prepares to open in Shanghai; photos by Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images; STR/AFP/Getty Images; and AP; all via The Big Picture].
Seed vaults have long been of interest here, of course, but this non-doomsday-inspired celebration of terrestrial botany is, for me, surprisingly much more thrilling than some top secret polar room predicated on an end-of-the-world agricultural scenario. Perhaps every town should have its own seed cathedral, blur-buildings of acrylic rods to showcase their local flora.
A version of this post originally appeared on BLDGBLOG.