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Milan 'Supertree' Prompts Claims of Architectural Plagiarism

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Architect Chris Wilkinson of Wilkinson Eyre claims that a "supertree" planned for the 2015 Milan Expo's Italian Pavilion is a ripoff of the very super tree-shaped structures his firm designed for an enormous tropical garden in Singapore. Completed in 2012 in collaboration with landscape architects Grant Associates, Wilkinson Eyre's Gardens by the Bay contains a grove of 18 steel towers (pictured above) measuring up to 164 feet high, which provide a framework for plant-life, collect solar energy, and vent waste heat from the complex. Now, Wilkinson tells The Telegraph that designer Marco Balich's creation for the next world's fair is a ripoff of Singapore's gargantuan cyborg trees.

Balich, whose website refers to him as a "designer of emotions" and an "absolute Olympic Ceremony expert," is managing partner of Balich Worldwide Shows. To compare, here's a rendering of what he plans to create.

Again, here's Wilkinson Eyre's already completed work.

Wilkinson thinks Balich's design is "definitely derivative of the Gardens by the Bay concept. [...] You'd have expected them to have come up with something a bit more original." Balich, on the other hand, claims his design had "nothing to do with" the Singapore project, and that any accusation of plagiarism ia "ridiculous": "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."

A tipster wonders if they were both simply riffing on the same Kazakh tourist attraction. Case closed! (JK.)

Wilkinson Eyre does not plan on taking any legal action at this time.

UPDATE: An anonymous commenter wonders if "they're all just ripoffs of these 1997 rebar 'trees' at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles."

Keep 'em coming, folks.

· British architects accuse Italians of plagiarism over tree design [Telegraph via ArchDaily]