A Wild Installation

Tuesday 27th March 2018

DAB installation by Toby SmithDAB installation by Toby Smith

A new installation on the outside of Cambridge’s David Attenborough Building includes three films of Wildlife Trust work, along with David Attenborough abseiling down a living wall, slow-motion jumping fleas and a fly-over of Cameroonian rainforests


A hub for global biodiversity conservation, the David Attenborough Building in Cambridge is home to academics and practitioners engaged in understanding and conserving the natural world, from zoological research to work protecting the world’s pristine habitats and precious species from destruction. Now a new, publicly-accessible installation on the outside of the building provides a dynamic window into the activities of those working inside. In collaboration with 104 contributors from Cambridge and beyond, photographer and film maker Toby Smith has adapted, created and curated more than 75 unique multimedia segments. Embedded within the fabric of the building 14 large HD screens have been installed displaying layers of diverse content to form an engaging, informative media show.

The bespoke animations and short films work in harmony to showcase and reveal the work undertaken within the building and across Cambridge. Toby worked with the Trust producing three films – an evening bat punt on the river Cam, see below, pulling invasive Himalayan balsam from Bourn Brook and an aerial view of Brampton Wood.
The installation offers unique glimpses of Cambridge’s best loved spaces, one film showing a bird’s-eye-view of the Botanic Garden, while others reveal objects and spaces not normally visible to the public, such as behind the scenes at the (just re-opened) Museum of Zoology's collections, and research in progress at the Department of Zoology. As well as the Wildlife Trust films, the diversity of nature around Cambridge includes time-lapse footage of Wicken Fen through the seasons.


Based in the building, the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (a collaboration between nine leading biodiversity conservation organisations based in and around Cambridge) work on biodiversity issues around the world, so footage also includes albatross fisheries in the Southern Pacific to workshops training future conservation leaders in Africa. As befits a building bearing his name, David Attenborough is featured on a number of screens (on the east side of the building, via the surrounding podium walkway, close to Corn Exchange Street entrance). Access to the screens will also be possible through the Museum of Zoology’s new café, which opened this week.
Automatic power management and playback displays all 74 films dynamically across the 14 screens; each screen shows looped content between 6 and 9 minutes