These Chinese spectators staring at “The Big Dig” exhibit at the Xi’an International Horticultural Expo are clearly wondering why there is a giant hole in the ground – and so, probably, are you. German design firm Topotek1 was asked to build a garden exhibit for the expo which they were happy to do, except instead of sticking with the same old standard two dimensional program, they dug a swirling green hole that explores what it would be like if, say, the temperatures on earth become so unbearable that people decide to dig a giant tunnel that leads all the way to China. The exhibit or hole in Xi’an is the imaginary destination – the place where subterranean travelers would arrive!
In the process of creating their exhibit, the design team did not remove any of the existing trees. But they did ensure that curious visitors would not edge too closely to the dig site by encircling it in a thin glass fence. To evoke visions of distant lands and places potentially reachable via this imaginary conduit, the team added light audio of “cows from the pampas of the Argentinas, commuters rushing among transit through New York City, the maritime life of Stockholm, and layers of history so audible among the streets of Berlin.”
We don’t often come across them, but we love speculative design projects that challenge us to imagine a world that we can’t readily see. But maybe we shouldn’t take the little blue pill too soon?