Goldin+Senneby designs climate-controlled chamber for "oldest spruce in the world"

Stockholm-based studio Goldin+Senneby has created the Spruce Time installation in Sweden, a climate-controlled chamber that houses a clone of one of the world’s oldest trees.

Situated on the grounds of a new hospital campus in Malmö, the installation by Goldin+Senneby was designed as a “living artwork” where visitors can observe and engage with the tree as it grows.

Exterior view of Spruce Time installation in Malmö
The installation sits on a new hospital campus in Malmö

The sapling inside it was cloned from a 9,550-year-old spruce tree named Old Tjikko, located on the Fulufjäll mountain in Sweden, before being planted within the chamber.

To obtain the clone, small twigs cut from the tree’s top branches were grafted onto stems of other spruce trees – creating saplings of identical DNA to Old Tjikko, with a survival rate just above 50 per cent.

Sapling planted within chamber by Goldin+Senneby
The sapling was cloned from a 9,550-year-old spruce tree

“Old Tjikko on Fulufjäll mountain has already cloned itself over the course of millennia,” studio co-founder Simon Goldin told Dezeen.

“It is the genetic individual – not the tree on the mountain – that is nearly 10,000-years-old, and the small clone now planted at the hospital in Malmö is the same genetic individual,” Goldin explained.

“In that sense, it is the oldest spruce in the world at the very beginning of its life.”

The clone is held within a cylindrical glass chamber that is five metres wide and 28.9 metres tall.

Conceptualised by the studio as a “customized miniature hospital”, the chamber was designed to regulate light, temperature, water, humidity and gas exchange for the tree, and is operated through the hospital’s infrastructure.

Chamber at Spruce Time installation in Malmö
The clone is held within a climate-controlled chamber

A wooden bench sits within the chamber to provide a space for “meditation and reflection” for visitors, which can be accessed by appointment.

According to the studio, the artwork will permanently reside on the hospital premises – requiring consistent and long-term maintenance for as long as the tree survives.

“We hope visitors to the hospital will have a chance to follow the tree’s development over the course of their lifetimes,” Goldin said.

“And from one generation to the next,” studio co-founder Jakob Senneby added.

Monitor within art installation by Goldin+Senneby
It was designed as a “customized miniature hospital”

While the tree has already been planted on site, the artwork is set to officially open in autumn 2025, alongside the inauguration of the new hospital.

Goldin+Senneby is an artist studio based in Stockholm established in 2004 by co-founders Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby.

Other installations recently featured on Dezeen include a pavilion at Glastonbury festival that “pushes the boundaries” of bioplastic and an exhibition presenting designs that aim to transform Sydney into a self-sufficient city.

The photography is by Helene Toresdotter.

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