David Chipperfield installs tree trunks in Neue Nationalgalerie
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David Chipperfield installs tree trunk columns in Mies van der Rohe's Neue Nationalgalerie

David Chipperfield has filled the Mies van der Rohe-designed Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin with 144 tree trunks – the museum's final exhibition before renovation work by the British architect starts.

Sticks and Stones installation by David Chipperfield
Main image, this image: photograph by David von Becker

David Chipperfield Architects' Sticks and Stones installation is located in the glazed hall of the museum, which was completed in 1968 to a design by Modernist architect Mies van der Rohe.

The eight-metre-high barked spruce tree trunks symbolically support the vast span of the roof, which is actually held up by eight narrow steel columns.

Sticks and Stones installation by David Chipperfield
Photograph by David von Becker

The straight trunks are positioned at the junctions of the steel ceiling beams, sat on square marble bases and connected to the roof by small metal links.



In the middle of the hall, a 200-square-metre clearing will host various events and activities.

Sticks and Stones installation by David Chipperfield
Photograph by David von Becker

The three-month installation, which opened earlier this week, is the museum's last before it closes for several years for a renovation project by Chipperfield that will start in early 2015.

Sticks and Stones installation by David Chipperfield
Photograph by Simon Menges

The title is taken from the beginning of an English adage that reads: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

It alludes to the elements and materials used in the building and installation, as well as the impending construction work the structure is set to endure.

Sticks and Stones installation by David Chipperfield
David Chipperfield (left) and Nationalgalerie director Udo Kittelmann. Photograph by David von Becker

"As light-hearted as the title might seem, this last special exhibition before the closing of the institution for several years is also quite profound in its meaning," said a statement from the museum.

Sticks and Stones will remain in place inside the Neue Nationalgalerie until the end of the year.

Sticks and Stones installation by David Chipperfield
Neue Nationalgalerie, Raising of the roof, April 5, 1967. Image courtesy Archiv Neue Nationalgalerie, Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Chipperfield's renovation of the Neues Museum in Berlin won his firm the 2011 Mies van der Rohe award.