The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts invited Snøhetta to participate in the “Nordic Cool Festival” by creating a temporary installation for the Hall of Nations. The question: “What is Nordic?” inspired a site specific 3-dimensional shape out of plywood, the piece was titled Sup-plywood – or how to be singular in the plural.
Plywood is one of the oldest mass produced products in the world. In 3500 B.C., Egyptians first used thin layers of veneer glued together into thick panels, an invention developed due to lack of quality wood and a need to create stable wooden surfaces. Centuries later, Immanuel Nobel, the Swedish architect, engineer, inventor and the father of Alfred Nobel, reinvented the Egyptian lathe, a machine for rotating and cutting thin wood veneers. Since the 1920s, Aaltos and Breuers’ plywood experiments further developed low cost plywood products intended for the general public. Plywood has since become one of the most used products in Scandinavian design, from molded to tensioned, employed in furniture and houses. It is a material representative of the development of social democracy in the Nordic region.
The installation further demonstrates the concept that everyone is equal, but when attached together, individual parts can become something much more unique.
Each sheet was prepared with 10mm holes along all the sides with c-c 100mm distance. The sheets were tested out 1:1 in Snøhetta’s office and a 1:20 model guided the mounting of the installation on site.
The installation was made of 40 sheets of 3.0 x 1.5, 3 mm thick veneer sewn with ropes into one long ribbon.
The sheets were shipped to Washington and were mounted in seven days by two people. The ribbon was shaped into one single object and fixed with ropes to secure its form.
The plywood’s character and use of tension created the shape.