Reports of plagiarism have arisen in UK paper The Daily Telegraph following the release of renderings for The Tree of Life - a central feature of the 2015 Milan Expo. The structure in question is a 100ft-high steel and wood element which bears a striking resemblance to the Super Trees at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.
The Tree of Life is due to be sited in a lake next to the Italian Pavilion, surrounded by 3,000 seats and 100 trees, as the location for water games, fire shows, and artistic performances during the Expo. There are also plans for a light show to illuminate the structure in alternating colours throughout the day.
Marco Balich, Artistic Director of the Italian Pavilion (and Executive Producer of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games) has been quoted as saying: “A tree is a tree, just like a skyscraper is a skyscraper - they are often similar, whether they are in New York or Shanghai. You can’t have copyright over the shape of a tree.”
Chris Wilkinson of Wilkinson Eyre, who worked on the Super Trees in Singapore with Grant Associates and Atelier 1, told The Daily Telegraph: “I think it’s definitely derivative of the Gardens by the Bay concept. You’d have expected them to have come up with something a bit more original.”
The inspiration for the Tree of Life was allegedly found in contemporary film imagery and the flooring of Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome.