IK Design’s transformative Outside-In bench allows visitors to the Heritage Museum and Gardens in Massachusetts to appreciate the lush trees on the museum grounds in a whole new way. Part of a contest for the Secret Shelters Exhibition, the project reimagines the typical visitor bench that wraps around a tree. The climbable structure fuses architecture, art and sustainability, resembling a grounded tree house made entirely from timber industry waste.
Rather than looking out over the park grounds, IK Design’s Outside-In bench refocuses the visitor’s gaze onto the lush tree, allowing little ones to examine and explore nature up-close. Forming a circular enclosure around the trunk of a tulip tree, the structure itself is made up of stacked cube pieces.
Each piece making up the Outside-In bench upcycles timber industry waste from the end of a processed log that would normally be thrown away. IK Design purposely sourced the cut off end pieces, which often feature pieces of bark, for the project. The remaining textured bark pieces are positioned to face in, to create a reflective relationship of the surface of bark between the tree and the bench.
During the Secret Shelters Exhibition, children of all ages are welcome to climb in, on and around the Outside-In bench. IK Design hopes that visitors will use the intimate structure as an area to tell stories, play games, or have private conversations. The exhibition will be on display until October 15, 2015.