LOCATION: Field Museum of Chicago
DESIGNER: Daniel Pouzet Design
FABRICATOR: Branch Technology
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Thornton Tomasetti CORE
BUILDING STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Goodfriend Structure LLC
HYDROPONICS AND VEGETATION SPECIALISTS: Ambius
RIGGING SPECIALIST: Chicago Flyhouse Inc.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Tashio Martinez
Branch Technology brings new life to Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History as part of a transformation to the iconic center hall for the Museum’s 125th anniversary. The Nature Clouds project is comprised of four colossal hanging gardens that float within the hall. 3D printed in a plant-based bioplastic, technology meets nature to create a symbiotic system. The organic forms spill with over 1000 plants — adaptations of extinct Cretaceous vegetation. Nodding to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Nature Clouds are a modern marvel of their own.
Protecting the historic plaster ceiling was a critical factor in the design and engineering phases of the project. Traditional materials such as steel were ruled out. However, Branch Technology was able to offer a solution of conservation due to the lightweight nature of Cellular Fabrication (C-Fab).
The largest cloud structure measures 35 feet wide by 28 feet long and 16 feet tall and weighs 17,500lbs. The total weight of all the structures is 30,000lbs, which is orders of magnitude less than if it were to be constructed with conventional building materials like wood or steel. In addition, the inherent benefits of 3D printing allow for an organic form and modular parts. Broken down into just 4 unique modules, the clouds are easy to manufacture, transport and carry — all 250 parts — into a museum for installation.