Dezeen Magazine

Eco to Ego by EFFEKT

EFFEKT plants 1,200 trees to grow during the Venice Architecture Biennale

Danish architecture studio EFFEKT has planted hundreds of pine seedlings around seven architectural models at the Venice Architecture Biennale using a hydroponics system that's remote-controlled from Copenhagen.

The installation is called Ego to Eco and responds to the biennale's theme, a question posed by the Venice Architecture Biennale's 2021 curator Hashim Sarkis: How will we live together?

Eco to Ego is an exhibitio by EFFEKT
EFFEKT's exhibition is called Ego to Eco

The seven models represent different research and design projects by EFFEKT that the studio feels answers this theme.

EFFEKT planted 1,200 one-year-old trees of four different species for the exhibition –  Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris), Norway Spruce (Picea Abies), Sitka Spruce (Pinus Sitchensisa) and Hybrid Larch (Larix Eurolepis.)

1,200 tree seedlings in a hydroponic grow system in Venice
The 1,200 seedlings grow in a hydroponic system

These seedlings sit in a hydroponic growing system that circulates water and nutrients around their roots. Hydroponics is a system of horticulture that grows plants without using soil.

Excess water drains into a tank below the planter that holds the system, called a grow table.

Architectural model of EFFEKT's forest tower
An architectural model of EFFEKT's forest tower for Denmark

Sensors monitoring the pressure, humidity, and temperature allow EFFEKT to monitor and control the system in real-time from their office back in Copenhagen.

The trees will grow in the exhibition hall at the Venice Architecture Biennale for six months. After the biennale finishes, EFFEKT will take them back to Denmark and plant them as part of an urban reforestation project.

The studio estimates that these trees will be able to absorb over 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide over the next 50 years.

Seedlings growing in the Eco to Ego exhibit around architectural models
Water and nutrients is pumped through the tree roots

"Ego to Eco is built upon the idea of creating an exhibition with a lasting positive impact," said EFFEKT.

"Considering social, environmental and economic aspects of any project can help address some of the greatest challenges we face as a result of our human existence."

Models of the studio's projects featured in the exhibition include The Forest Tower, a 45-metre-high helical tower built from weathering steel that the studio built in Gisselfeld Klosters Forest.

There is also a model of The Urban Village Project, a design for a co-living neighbourhood with urban farms created by EFFEKT with IKEA's research lab Space10.

Close up of architectural models and seedlings in Venice
The pine seedlings will grow for six months as part of the exhibition

"These projects offer potential solutions to the challenges of today and depict what it means to think and design ecosystems," said the studio.

"They investigate new ideas for living and building, for producing, consuming and revitalizing the ecosystems we are part of and depend upon."

Close up of pine seedlings planted by EFFEKT
Afterwards, the trees will be planted as an urban forest in Denmark

Trees and nature have emerged as a major theme for the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021.

A rainwater system has been installed inside the Danish pavilion and a 12-metre-high frame made of pine has been erected around the US pavilion to highlight wood as a sustainable construction material.

Photography is by Rasmus Hjortshøj.

Ego to Eco will be on display in Corderie dell´Arsenale as part of the Venice Architecture Biennale, which takes place from 22 May to 21 November 2021. See Dezeen Events Guide for all the latest information you need to know to attend the event, as well as a list of other architecture and design events taking place around the world.

More images and plans

Plan for Ego to Eco