Nature Gardens Installation


PROJECT NAME: Nature Gardens
LOCATION: Field Museum of Chicago
VOLUME: 1000cuft

Project Collaborators:
Designer: Daniel Pouzet Design
Development: Branch Technology
Structural Engineering / FEA Analysis Services: Thornton Tomasetti
Site Structural Engineering Analysis Services: Goodfriend Structure LLC
Hydroponics & Vegetation Specialists: Ambius
Rigging Specialists: Chicago Flyhouse Inc.
Plant & Accent Lighting: Grand Stage Company
Architect of Record: The Dobbins Group
Plant & Accent Lighting Trussing: Kehoe Designs



100 million years in the making, Branch Technology brings new life to the Field Museum, Chicago's Natural History Museum. The Nature Gardens project is a part of a transformation to the iconic hall for the Museum’s 125th anniversary. With the task of supporting over 1000 plants, the installation is comprised of 3 cloud designs; two large, one extra-large and a final mega sized garden that is 35 feet wide, 19 feet tall, and fully inhabitable. Each garden contains an embedded steel armature capable of lowering the gardens to enhance the ambience while also maintaining the carefully engineered hydroponic plant life support systems. 3D printed in a plant based bioplastic, technology meets nature to create a symbiotic system.

New and immersive installations also include a cast of the largest dinosaur ever discovered. The titanosaur emerges from the museum floor while a flock of pterosaurs or flying reptiles soar above. Meanwhile the four colossal sized hanging gardens float effortlessly like clouds within the hall. Organic in form they spill with adaptations of extinct vegetation from the Cretaceous Period such as Arum, Cycad and ferns. Nodding to the hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Nature Gardens are a modern marvel of their own.

Gazing upward, the voluptuous gardens contrast with the crisp, ornate and delicate plaster details above. Protecting the historic architectural ceiling was a critical factor in the design and engineering. Due to the lightweight nature of CFAB, Branch Technology offered a solution of conservation. In addition, the freeform attributes of CFAB allow for a liberated organic yet intelligently modular form. Similar in configuration, each garden is 3D printed as a series of hanging shelves that compliment the plant and house the plant life systems. All shelves are supported by a domed armature above to control daylighting, house mechanics and provide a dramatic moorei of shadows during events. Broken down into over 250 parts the garden could be easily manufactured, transported and carried into the museum for installation.