visiondivision: chop stick
visiondivision: chop stick
dec 04, 2012

visiondivision: chop stick

visiondivision: chop stickall images courtesy of visiondivision




commissioned by the indianapolis museum of art to erect a concession stand for their 100 acres: the viriginia b. fairbanks art & nature park, swedish architecture firm visiondivision (anders berensson and ulf mejergren) have realized ‘chop stick’, a design based on the universal notion of that you need to sacrifice something in order to make something new.


‘every product is a compound of different pieces of nature, whether it is a cell phone, a car, a stone floor or a wood board; they have all been harvested in one way or another. our project is about trying to harvest something as gently as possible so that the source of what we harvest is displayed in a pure, pedagogic and respectful way—respectful to both the source itself and to everyone visiting the building,‘ the architects say.

visiondivision: chop stickexterior viewimage courtesy of visiondivision




the raw material selected for the structure is a 100-foot yellow poplar, the state tree of indiana which is regarded for its beauty, respectable size and good properties as a hardwood. visiondivision found their ideal tree in anderson, indiana, transforming it into a useful building.

visiondivision: chop stickswings made from part of the trunkimage courtesy of visiondivision



the tree was transported to the park site, where it was suspended as a horizontal beam, the structure to be made almost entirely out of the tree itself. the bark was removed from its surface, in order that it does not fall on bystanders, a process which naturally occurs as the moisture content in the wood drops, causing the tree to shrink and the bark to lose its grip. craftsmen loosened entire cylinders of bark from the trunk which were then flattened and cut into standard shingle length, carefully stacked and placed under pressure to avoid curling. the stacks are then kiln dried to the proper moisture content, sterilized and kept in climate controlled storage until ready for use. bark shingles are very durable, lasting up to 80 years, and are maintenance free. once debarked, pieces of wood are extracted from the suspended tree and used for various components of the concession stand; structural support of the entire construction, as pillars and studs for the kiosk, swings under the tree for kids, benches and tables to be placed under the tree’s crown, from which special fixtures made out of branches will hang.

visiondivision: chop stickswings made from part of the trunkimage courtesy of visiondivision




on a smaller level, berensson and mejergren are exploring ways in which they can use other parts of the tree in the concession stand including its root system, which is separated from the tree when it is cut down. for example, the roots have many edible features, such as rot bark which could be used to make tea and tonics sold at the kiosk. pressed leaves and flowers taken from the tree will act as ornaments on the front glass of the structure. there is also the possibility to extract honey from the poplar tree flowers. branches less than five inches in diameter are cut away to prevent eventual rotting, and those remaining used for details such as legs for chairs and tables, or ground down into sawdust for use as insulation.


yellow poplar syrup was extracted from the tree and will be sold from the kiosk, giving visitors the opportunity the eat the building.

visiondivision: chop stickthe VD-team handing out ice cream at the opening partyimage courtesy of visiondivision

visiondivision: chop stickthe top part of the tree with tables and chairsimage courtesy of visiondivision

visiondivision: chop sticktypical summer afternoonimage courtesy of visiondivision

visiondivision: chop stickat night time with the lamp shades from the bark of the smaller limbsimage courtesy of visiondivision

 visiondivision: chop stick(left) interior of the kiosk(right) exterior branding

visiondivision: chop stickvisual rendering of the ‘chop stick’ concession stand by visiondivision for the indianapolis museum of artimage courtesy of visiondivision

visiondivision: chop stickimage courtesy of visiondivision

visiondivision: chop stickconference before the removal of the selected poplar treephoto by donna sink

visiondivision: chop stickpreparing the tree to be cutphoto by donna sink

visiondivision: chop stickonce cut the trunk was pulled away from its roots raised by a large cranephoto by donna sink

visiondivision: chop stickarranging the tree horizontallyphoto by donna sink

visiondivision: chop stickdebarking the tree in stripsphoto by donna sink

visiondivision: chop stickcutting excess wood to make tables for the kioskphoto by donna sink

visiondivision: chop stickpreparing the tree for transportation to the park sitephoto by donna sink

visiondivision: chop stickpreparing the tree for transportation to the park sitephoto by donna sink

visiondivision: chop sticken route to the park sitephoto by donna sink

visiondivision: chop stickthe debarked tree on locationphoto by donna sink

visiondivision: chop stickpoplar tree flower in which honey could be extracted from for sale at the concession standphoto by donna sink


the making of ‘chop stick’

visiondivision: chop stickdiagram of the entire process of removing the tree and transforming it into a architectural structureimage courtesy of visiondivision

 visiondivision: chop stickthe varying cuts made to the wood

visiondivision: chop stickthe varying facades of ‘chop stick’




project info:


architects: visiondivision / anders berensson & ulf mejergrenlocal architect: donna sink client: indianapolis museum of artslocation: 100 acres; the virginia b. fairbanks art & nature park at the indianapolis museum of arts,  indianapolis, in, usacurators: lisa freiman & sarah greenstructural engineer: dave steiner contractor: the hagerman grouplogger: dave and dave images: eric lubrick (ima), donna sink, visiondivision

  • Excellent!!

    Cayman says:
  • A pure delight

    Van houten says:
  • you cut off a tree for creating your idea!!
    shame on you

    cypher says:
  • @ cypher
    Hmm.. I think that this is quite common when you build something, to cut trees, but maybe people get blind to it when they only see small parts of a tree like planks, and they forget where it came from.
    It is a little bit like eating meat. We all know that it is animals that we eat even if we dont want to be reminded of that.
    That is what I like about this project. That it really shows where things are coming from.
    Very good achievement.

    Piotr says:
  • a tree’s life have been finish just for your idea?

    zahra says:
  • poor tree :’-(

    boozy says:
  • Complete visualization & partial visualization/presence gives a different perception towards design.

    ADD says:
  • Amazing!

    Kyle says:

    Leeya8 says:
  • big love!!!

    greatman says:
  • I wish the tree was sick! Otherwise I pretty much dislike!!!

    celine says:

    KAHN says:
  • How much do you think your project has generated CO2? Did you thought about it at some point in your idea? Please understand, it’s not personal, but i feel some hope, ok.

    Arq. Camila Dias BR/PB says:
  • DAMN YOU! poor tree!
    why u dont use other material instead of use tree?

    13 says:
  • Oh no! Another tree’s been killed. Let’s hold a vigil and perhaps design a memorial.

    a.e. says:
  • This is sooooo friggin good!!

    Denver Dave says:
  • People whose lower lip starts trembling as soon as (renewable) material is being used to build something need a reality check!
    Especially when the project is great!

    zetre says:
  • Great concept, well executed, a fun and useful end result – really a win win, Kudos…

    greg zurbay says:
  • Pure delight! Perhaps you dilettantes should put down your water bongs before logging on to your internets – through your mac pros no doubt – that way we can all be spared the loss of our brain cells, after reading your inane patter.

    betadinesutures says:
  • Knockout!

    Tyson says:
  • The tree was sited in a stand of trees sold for lumber and slated to be harvested anyway. This tree was going to be cut down and most likely mulched or used for small lumber. In my opinion, the beauty of this project is that it allows us to view this tree AS A TREE and thus consider that all of our architectural acts involve the use of finite resources and that we should use those natural materials respectfully.

    Donna Sink says:
  • Agree with Donna & this idea is great

    TTK says:
  • Grossartig! Und viel Freude für die Kinder und Familien. Natur schön kombiniert mit Design und Architektur und der Baum lebt weiter in den Menschen! Ich wünschte so etwas auch bei uns!!!!! Und was sie Kritik anbelant, wir leben nicht auf dem Mond!

    René Düsel says:
  • Do you think IKEA doesn’t cut trees !!?? people are idiot who says ‘ shame on you for cutting a tree for your idea! ‘ Look around,timber is everywhere! You may like or not the design,but you can’t say ‘shame on you’ to him/her for using timber as a material…You say,if tree has a shape or form,it is ok,but ,if you use it as its form,you are tree murderer!!! Funny criticisers :))

    Ozzy says:
  • I can see the points regarding the three from both sides. If indeed the three was sawed down for the single purpose of this project, and it would have still been standing for decades to come otherwise, i too think it would have been a disgrace. Now however when this three would have been processed for lumber anyway, i on the other hand think it’s a brilliant way to make something interesting as well as a tribute to all the threes “sacrificed” constructing our dwellings and furniture etc. hehe 😉

    Erik says:
  • Hmm… I have mixed feelings! The design is great. As to the tree being harvested I can understand… Still, it was a massively large and old tree. Just wanted to have somebody clear up if the tree had been grown for cutting or if it was sold for harvesting after having grown wild. Yes, I know we use a lot of wood and that its renewable…

    The structure is beautiful in the way using leather for construction is beautiful…. very natural, fun, soft and beautiful… as long as we are very aware of where it came from and the life that was taken to make it….

    I guess it becomes a sensitive issue when we’ve effed up our natural environment so much…. Still, very creative and biodegradable design!!!! 🙂

    Glowy says:
  • sooo fab!!

    jAyajade says:
  • Impresionante!

    tycho nagy says:

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