Expo2015 Hive

Structural Designer

Simmonds Studio

Client Name



Milan and subsequently London

Wolfgang Buttress


Stage One


A highly complex sculptural structure that was the centrepiece of the UK Pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015. Using a geometry inspired by the honey bee, the Hive underwent four complete redesigns and 21 design iterations in five months, yet was delivered on time.

The Hive consists of 60,000 unique aluminium parts, formed in a structural system of 31 stacked layers of alternating radial and circumferential trusses.

Judge's comment:

The Expo2015 Hive structure provides a striking demonstration of the way in which the onward development of digital technology can take integrated structural analysis, design and fabrication. The judges were highly impressed by the way in which specialist material knowledge of glass and aluminium, combined with the digital coding expertise of a minimally-sized structural design consultancy enabled a dramatic aesthetic vision to be converted into reality. This was made possible through the development of an optimised 'kit of parts' structure that involves the use of over 169,000 component elements. The judges noted that this futuristic approach enabled the structure to be built not once but twice over, and with the prospect of being re-used repeatedly into the future. This winning solution exemplifies the Art and Science of Structural Engineering, while also showcasing the attraction of re-usable component part design.

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