Roots to the wind, head in the ground

A piece by Michele De Lucchi on show until January 2020.


Covering almost twelve million hectares, forests in Italy cover 39% of the country’s surface area, giving it one of the highest rates of woodland in Europe.

Between Saturday 27th and Tuesday 30th October 2018, north-east Italy was hit by storm Vaia, causing flooding and incredibly violent, strong winds that reached speeds of up to two hundred kilometres per hour.

An extraordinarily powerful weather event that affected the eastern Alps, from Lombardy to Friuli Venezia Giulia, and that is estimated to have damaged over 40,000 hectares of forest land and 9,000,000 cubic metres of wood, with trees being felled or uprooted.

The storm transformed the landscape and served as yet another example of just how fragile our territory is. The violent and extreme effects of climate change have left an open wound.

Padua’s Botanical Garden, in collaboration with Arte Sella, which was also badly affected by storm Vaia, has created an art installation using trunks and different species of trees coming from the demolished forests in the provinces of Belluno and Trento.

This sculpture was designed by the architect Michele De Lucchi, who donated the design of his installation “Radici al vento, testa nella terra” (“Roots to the wind, head in the ground”).



Just a few metres from the first oriental plane tree that came to Italy in 1680, the “tree of trees” has grown.

Built using the wood from the trees that were swept away by the disaster at the end of October 2018 - spruce, beech, larch, ash, linden and hazel trees - its trunk, branches and roots seem to fly, suspended in the air, above a pool of water that refers to the sea, which has been clumsily overheated due to the effects of air pollution.

This piece by Michele De Lucchi preserves the memory of ‘being turned upside down’.

A sudden natural force devastated trees dating back fifty years or more, swept away by the wind, as if they were mere twigs. The roots gave in to the storm's powerful gusts of wind. They were uprooted, dragged up by their trunks and branches and exposed to the air, out of the ground, in a way that we’ve never seen before.

This tree-totem pole symbolically gives some form and dignity back to those 14 million trees that were felled in just a few hours, many of which had seen centuries of world history pass by. This is a memento that the University of Padova and the Botanical garden would like to offer visitors: to remember that every tree means life and hope for the future.



A trunk of beech wood, held in place vertically by the five main roots, built into the root structure suspended over the water, forms the basis for the installation.

To guarantee continuity and durability of this trunk, measuring almost 13 metres long and made up of elements of different varieties and dimensions, a connection was introduced that brings back and reworks an ancient Japanese joint using wedges and horns made from oak.

The third and final key element of this installation was the choice to use a rapid system to keep the joints between the trunk and the branches in place, which were shaped using tools resembling a pencil sharpener and inserted into holes with a corresponding diameter.


Michele De Lucchi

Architect. He played a leading role in "Alchimia” and “Memphis”. He has designed furniture for some of the most famous companies in Italy and Europe. He was Head of Design for Olivetti from 1988 to 2002. He has completed architectural projects in Italy and across the world, including residential, industrial, corporate and cultural buildings.

He has designed work environments and corporate identities on behalf of Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Bundesbahn, Enel, Poste Italiane, Hera, Intesa Sanpaolo, UniCredit and other Italian and foreign institutions. He has designed buildings and display systems for museums such as Milan's Triennale, Rome’s Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Berlin's Neues Museum and the Galleria d’Italia in Milan. He’s currently designing luxury resorts in various locations across the world: in Georgia, China, Japan and Italy. He is also building an indoor ski slope next to the area of the former Alfa Romeo factory in Arese. In Bresso, he's developing a project regarding a campus dedicated to technological innovation in the pharmaceutical industry.


In 2000, he was awarded the honour of “Official of the Italian Republic” by President Ciampi. In 2001, we was made a professor at the IUAV in Venice. In 2006, he received an honorary degree from Kingston University. In 2008, he was named Professor in the Faculty of Design at the Polytechnic University of Milan and an Academic at the San Luca National Academy in Rome. He was director of “Domus” magazine for 2018.