Seggiano, Italy

In Seggiano (Tuscany) — an area famous for the olive tree variety called Olivastra Seggianese — the Museum of Seggiano Land and Olivastra recently unveiled an unusual exhibit.

A stone water tank along the medieval walls of Seggiano now holds an Olivastra tree cultivated with an aeroponic system.

The olive tree is placed at the top of the cistern: the stem and the foliage are visible from the outside of the structure, while the roots are suspended and visible by entering the cistern. The plant is fed by nutrient steam rising from a circular pool at the base.


A sketch shows how the tree is suspended within an old water tank within the walls of Seggiano, Italy

Sensors are connected to the roots in order to pick up electrical impulses passing through the olive tree, caused by its interaction with wind, rain, temperature changes or other external agents. Through a special electronic device, these “impulses” are translated and transcribed in the form of a musical score that serenades visitors.

The suspended olive tree is the world’s largest plant cultivated using aeroponics and its implementation has been tested and developed in the international laboratory of Plant Neurobiology at the School of Agriculture of Florence University, that is the scientific partner of the project.

The Museum also operates an olive oil shop (oleoteca) in the central square of Seggiano — part of the former building of Monte dei Paschi di Siena (the oldest bank in the world) purchased by the municipality to be the showcase of local producers.


Oleoteca a Seggiano, Val d’Orcia by Mao Benedetti

The oleoteca, inaugurated one year ago, has been designed to celebrate the ancient craft of olive oil production: it includes two cylindrical structures of different sizes, both coated with raw iron sheets. The first cylinder slowly turns on itself while showing a vertical slot with several bottles of Olivastra oil. The second structure is the serving counter, where you can taste the “draft” oil that is dispensed by special taps.

On the ground, a half moon light illuminates the space, while, on the irregularly shaped vault, images documenting the work in the oil mills are projected.

The oleoteca project received an honorable mention in the July, 2014 National Exhibition of Architecture.

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