L’arbre de Flonville by Oloom & Samuel Wilkinson


L’arbre de Flonville is a metal tree created by British designer Samuel Wilkinson in collaboration with Swiss designers Oloom.

The structure provides shade and seating in a public square in the new Flon quarter in Lausanne, Switzerland. The designers claim it is a modern interpretation of the tree as a meeting place in a town square.

The steel framework supports a canopy made from larch wood to proide shade, and steel 'roots' extend across and beyond the square, forming seating.

At night the canopy and underside of the seating is illuminated by computer-controlled LEDs.

The construction is 12 metres tall and spans 16 metres.

Photos by Milo Keller.

Below is some further information about the project from Samuel Wilkinson:


L’arbre de Flonville

L’arbre de Flonville, desiged by Oloom & Samuel Wilkinson, is situated in Lausanne’s new Flon quarter. It is one of the first major works to be completed in a series of architectural and street furniture projects, as part of the regeneration of the area undertaken by Lo Holding group.

Taking the general notion of a standard public square as a starting point, the designers considered how best to create a space of familiarity, whilst still producing something both modernistic and engaging.

Driven by the specific criteria of a central meeting point, the need for seating and shade, and to visually communicate with spaces outside the square, the project evolved into a 12m high x 16m wide, contorting metal tree with a slatted wooden canopy. The tree is surrounded by roots that emanate out into different areas both in and beyond the square.

The designers developed a five-sided typology which allowed enough freedom, by drafting each face in turn, to grow the elements into derived botanical forms. The tree was grown manually (via 3D software) from the trunk outwards, each face splits to continue to form a new branch. The main tree weighs approximately 30 tonnes, consisting of a tubular steel infrastructure clad in painted 2mm stainless steel.

The larch canopy constructed from cylindrical wooden cross beams, 200mm in diameter, covered with lathed 40mm x 80mm lengths at 80mm intervals. The slats are directional and orientated to provide ideal shade. They create a interplay of perspectives that can be seen when walking below. Larch was selected for its warm character and excellent resistance to moisture under extreme weather conditions. No coating was applied, to allow the canopy to fade naturally, introducing an added graphical element while ageing.

Constructed in 2.5mm folded stainless steel mono-hulls, the roots tie the tree into the surrounding building complex. The sculptural roots weave through the square guiding the flow of visitors toward the commercial, entertainment and service centres of Flon-Ville. Designated roots are ergonomically shaped for social seating.

Colour changing LEDs, hidden both in the tree and on the underside of each root, provide an added visual dynamic at night.

The red tartan floor links the city of Lausanne with the main arteries leading into the Flon area. As an urban ground covering, it offers a muted acoustical and visual environment. At ground level the surface has a thickness of 1 cm, contrasting to 6cm on the triangulated reliefs. This creates a subtle softness and intimacy directly beneath the tree providing visitors with an alternative seating option.

The project provides a 21st century representation of the neo-romantic ideal of a tree in the village square – a common place for people to meet, contemplate or just sit and watch the world go by.


Faithfulness to and respect for the Flon area’s artistic calling led the LO Holding group, in collaboration with several International designers, to dream up an overall concept for exterior developments that will harmonize with the new architectural line and identity of one of Lausanne’s flagship areas. Ten street furniture projects, selected for their functional relevance and innovative design, will come into being from November 2007 through the end of 2008.

The purpose of this exterior development work is to provide real added value while re-establishing Flon’s reputation in terms of artistic creation. By calling on the expertise of industrial designers, manufacturers, engineers and architectural lighting specialists, all given the mission of investing Flon with a unique character, the

LO Group is showing its desire to offer the people of Lausanne a decisively contemporary environment.

The projects currently underway include a pergola created by Atelier Oï studio, chairs, children’s toys, a community vegetable garden, and glass parallelepipeds for exhibitions. When complete, they will be a lively addition to the area’s urban landscape. Explanatory signs and informative markers will help passers-by to appreciate fully the various spaces. Flon-Ville’s L’arbre de flonville is a spectacular start to the series of creations marking the artistic renaissance of the Flon area, providing its western part with an innovative space that is open to all.


Posted by Rose Etherington


Posted on Wednesday January 16th 2008 at 4:18 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Joost

    Looks a lot like Anhony Kleinepier his work.
    He is a Eindhoven (Holland) based designer take a look at:


    Lets compare the two……

  • Andrew

    ^ It is somewhat similar to his stuff. Nonetheless, both projects are fantastic.

  • toyterminator

    what a stupid thing, oh, i have no idea for the design, so let’s make a tree, hohoho… if you want to avoid designing then plant a real tree…

  • ST

    What a stupid comment toyterminator… “I have no idea for a new comment, so let’s pull down, hohoho!”

  • Tyson

    My friend Brian says he sees a tree? I don’t get it, I see a man eating robot. FANTASTIC.

  • nick

    I agree, its silly

  • ben

    i dig it.

  • fran

    creo que un árbol real hubiese sido más certero. Más allá de que como obra artística tiene valor; de estar este árbol directamente en el suelo, uno real tendría mucho más significado en un masa construida de tal magnitud.

    Esto que decía antes se comprueba al ver el bosque interior de la biblioteca nacional en París, de Perrault; o el nuevo edificio del New York Times, de Piano.

    Igual es un buen gesto artístico.

  • horst thorn

    a really fantastic work. why are all responses very aggressive? better use your energy for positive creativity yourselfes!

  • Joost

    I didn’t post the link to be negative in any way Anthony is a good friend and I really like his work. He’s making these trees for years…
    I like the idea of a abstract tree because it refers to so many things, things there no room for in or just outside modern buildings.
    So this tree too I like…

  • fBot

    I like it, atleast it’s original and the details are well resolved,


  • Bozo

    I wish I was famous

  • FIDO

    Looks like a mushroom to me.

  • El Greco

    Competing against nature, hmm…. not a great idea.

    A real tree is a lot more beautiful.

  • Thoric

    pretentious. literal. and definately cost wasn’t an issue. i like it though.

  • xtiaan

    @ el greco
    every time you hop into your car, sleep in your bed, type on your computer, eat or even breathe you are “competing against nature” unless you live naked in a field and somehow have mastered the art of photosynthesis thats is. As for “a real tree is much more beautiful”, face it there are some stunted ugly tress around, just because its natural doesnt mean its automatically beautiful, AIDS is natural, death is natural, nature is responsible for alot of fuct up ugliness, face it.

    I think its really great, the seats have a particularly sculptural quality, and the smoky paty with everyone in white looks fun too…

  • Hilary

    As I understand it, this development is over a shopping mall – there was no possibility of having large real tree as there is no soil to plant it in.

  • xtiaan

    these days you can pretty much put a tree anywhere, if you want to, we have the technology, soil or not. But just because you dont want to doesnt make you some kind of nature hater, which alot of the people here seem to be equating it with, which is missing the point entirely….

  • P.J


  • Jennifer

    i didn’t like it until i stumbled upon it at night – it’s like a phenomenal constructed alien space, in person…the city of lausanne is built on top of rivers that it has buried – there is much artifice in lausanne altogether – yet the artifice appears “natural” – This tree is honest and speaks of the arttifical nature of Lausanne – it’s sited in a post-industrial, revitalized area – and so it fits very well into the landscape. But it’s not really a place designed for all people of Lausanne – can you really see a 60 or 70 or 80 year old finding comfort there? These older people are at the heart of what has made Lausanne and I think it’s a shame to alienate them.

  • owen

    this may be the best unintentional skateboard spot ever.
    thank you.

  • ian

    I wouldn’t like to sit there, feels too cold to be cozy. The lights help a bit but still too cold for me.