For the third consecutive year, architectural group Hello Wood decided to rethink the concept of the Christmas tree. They believe that Christmas should be about giving something back to the community that we are part of, and this thought should extend beyond the Christmas season.
Hello Wood has treated architecture as a metaphor, using building material that will be reused after the holidays for various good causes. In addition to building an enormous Charity Tree in their home city of Budapest, this year the group brings their vision of meaningful Christmas trees to the two biggest cities of the United Kingdom: London and Manchester.
On London’s Granary Square at King’s Cross, Hello Wood cooperated with London-based visual-artist group Creatmosphere to create an 11-metre-tall Christmas tree made from 365 illuminated wooden sledges, representing each day of the year. The artists created the unique mixture of light and architecture to mark the Lumiere London festival that is coming to King’s Cross and the West End during 14 – 17 January 2016. While Hello Wood designed and built the structure, Creatmosphere animated it with light and sound.
To represent the four seasons, a cycle of colour-changing motion and sound will invite people to imagine the Christmas tree in different ways. Therefore, even in the earliest phases, architects and light artists worked together to create the tree, named Let it Snow. The name was chosen to call for snow at Christmas, and seeks to highlight the impact of climate change that has prevented sledging on London hills during this festive time for many years.
The 100 sledges used to build the installation will be given away to local schools in the area, and the remaining will be available to the public for purchase on 7th January when the Christmas tree will be dismantled; 10% of the income from this will go to charity. “We wanted to create a temporary installation, which is not only spectacular, but with primary elements that remain usable so they can be distributed among kids. For us, this is the point of social awareness: you don’t only show something, but at the same time you give something unique,” says András Huszár, co-founding architect of Hello Wood, about the installation.
As part of The Pilcrow Project in Manchester, Hello Wood was commissioned to build an 11-metre-tall tree on Sadler’s Yard. The tree was created with the hope that it would become a symbol of the power of community-building during the Christmas holidays, and later on 100% of the building material will be recycled to build the Pilcrow Pub’s workshop space. Some of the materials will be used as work benches, while other parts will be used for furniture, flooring, wall coverings, and traditional pub games.
The Pilcrow Pub, which itself will be a temporary structure, has been designed to move around the NOMA neighbourhood as it develops, and is expected to fast become a local attraction and topic of conversation, giving people the chance to take part in the building process and learn new skills. A series of free-to-attend workshops will encourage groups of volunteers to spend time learning a new skill by constructing part of the pub themselves.
The branches of the Christmas Tree with a Difference are spiral-like and built on a basic structure, using pine and oak, in a variety of sizes and cross sections in order to provide the maximum number of possibilities for future use. The installation – which includes approximately 8m3 of wood and 4.5 tonnes of metal plates – took three weeks to prepare in Hungary, and five days to construct in Manchester.
According to David Raday, co-founder of Hello Wood, “It was an inspiring challenge to design and build a Christmas installation that is not only visually attractive and comprehensible for the wider public, but that also connects to a complex architectural and cultural project by re-using every element of the installation for the Pilcrow Pub project. We hope that this tree will become a symbol for the power of community-building during the Christmas holidays, and later on in its new form when used in the pub.”
In Budapest’s Erzsébet Square, Hello Wood built a giant Christmas tree to support the campaign of Hungarian Interchurch Aid. The tree, built for an entire week with the help of alpinists, is 16 metres high, 6.5 metres wide, and was made of 10,000 pieces of firewood that weigh a total of 40 tonnes. The goal was to create a Christmas tree for the Budapest community, symbolizing the importance of caring about each other. Therefore, all the firewood used to build it will be given to families in need during January.
The installation is called Charity Tree, representing the importance of the community and social awareness: not only because people traditionally gather around Christmas trees to celebrate together, but also because at this time of the year, it is particularly important to think of the thousands of Hungarian families who have daily problems with heating during wintertime. Hello Wood launched the project to raise awareness of these burning social problems that we have to find a solution to as a community.
Hello Wood’s symbolic answer was to create a temporary installation, which can be used to heat homes during wintertime. The Charity Tree has a 4-metre-tall entrance, and the creator made sure that the inside is accessible with wheelchairs and buggies.
Thanks to the special lighting effects, the round-shaped windows on the structure look like classic Christmas-tree decorations from the outside. Meanwhile visitors can get a view of the city looking out of the windows from the inside via a staircase leading up to 4 metres high.