Judges’ Special Award Winner 2013
Project Title: Worldscape
Wood Species & Products Used: Latvian birch plywood
Furniture client/owner: Atmos Studio
Furniture Designer: Atmos Studio
Furniture Maker / Manufacturer: Atmos Studio
Wood Supplier: DHH Timber
Wood Species: Latvian birch plywood
Other services: The Cutting Room, Clear Village
Worldscape is a mammoth element of continuous integrated landscape furniture initially designed for an pop-up restaurant project for the London 2012 Olympics. It is a monument built from and for the world, carved from its precise contours to provide seating for 80 visitors from around our planet.
Combining table and bench, its deeply sculptural landscape uses all the world’s contours to create a smorgasbord of unique inhabitable spaces, faithful to world geographic geometry, unfamiliar and provocative as furniture. As a social instrument, it frames and prompts new dining relationships, encouraging intimacy and interaction between its occupants.
Worldscape uses the Equidistant Cylindrical map of the world – NASA’s digital map of choice, where all degrees are equal lengths in both directions – to create an inhabitable dining environment from standard sheets of industrially-produced material, mapping plywood to the planet. The 360-degree length of the map was divided into 12, each strip measuring 30 terrestrial degrees in width, mapping perfectly onto 4-foot-wide sheets of plywood, melamine-faced for hygiene. These sheets were digitally carved with contours – outlines of the world’s geography cut at 500-metre intervals cut straight from the computer with ultimate speed and exactitude. The table is thus divided into a grid of 35 generally-square modules of irregularly-shaped landmasses, each deeply individual yet linking together to form a collective occupiable landscape.
The table uses all the world contours, from both above and below sea level, stretching their vertical relationship, like an engineer’s section of a bridge, to best fit the body. Diners sit inside the sea – astride a collective louvred bench running the length of the ocean trench, 2 kilometres beneath the ocean surface – and eat off the sea-level coastline, the image the designers all recognise as a world map. Table and bench interlock together, their structural front edges describing a local sectional cut through the world.
Ocean contours cascade away beneath the seats, terminating at 5 kilometres below sea level as they hit the venue floor, while the mountains rise up above the table to peak at the Himalayas, 2.1 metres tall, making Worldscape the tallest table in (and of) the world. The main surfaces at sea level are striated by the longitudinal lines and perforated with the patterns of global cities. Each table cradles multiple light sources which illuminates these urban constellations; the view from above thus replicating the satellite view of the Earth at Night, diners illuminated by the collective inhabitation of the Earth.
The carved modules can interlink or detach, unfolding and unscrewing to pack flat as carry-away demountables. Their complex geometries all conform to the terrestrial grid, meaning longitudinal slices can be swapped out and recombined to create new map forms; indeed any grid square could connect to any other, creating entirely new world organisations and creative cartographic mashups. The tables can be pulled apart to create cafe-style seating, and each packs away into a slim stack of easy-assemble components, both a unique designer object, and a portable slice of the world.
The plywood was chosen for its combination of fine tolerance ( enabling extremely accurate jigsaw-puzzle connections), structural strength to weight ratio, refined aesthetic of longitudinal laminations, and high-quality finish to both the melamine and birch once CNC-machined.