Plots, Prints and Projections is an exhibition at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2018 showcasing seven Swedish practices many of them new to Venice. Common to these is that they have all worked with wood installations in close cooperation with the manufacturing industry. In some cases, boundaries are being pushed as wood’s innate qualities are tested against new methods of production. The various installations could be said to balance at the intersection between traditional craftsmanship and new manufacturing techniques in a digital age. The programme as a whole, Greenhouse Garden – Reflect Project Connect, is the outcome of a collaboration between Architects Sweden, Swedish Wood, The Swedish Institute and Folkhem.
Exploring wood’s inherent properties is nothing new per se. The growth patterns of different tree species – including everything from the blooming process to the cellular structure of trees and the characteristics of the bark – have long been studied. Historically, such efforts have been collected both in drawn form, as projections, and in the form of vividly coloured graphic prints. The most renowned and original catalogue of trees is the Xylothek tree library created in the early 1800s. Parts of a tree were collected in a box shaped like a book and made from the tree’s own wood. The spine of each book was made from the bark of the source tree. Thus wood constituted a container for the tree and preserved the tree too for posterity.
Exploring wood involves a study of scale – from how to use microscopic fragments of cellulose fibre in new materials to global questions concerning forests and deforestation. How trees affect the climate, but also how wood is affected by climate and weather changes. This invites inquiry into our relationship with wood. It is our hope that the present programme and exhibition will raise questions about the material itself, our relation to it and what is physically possible to do with wood in contemporary architecture.