Expo 2010 Shanghai is the first World Fair to adopt sustainable urban development as its theme. As consequence concepts which legitimise the extensive resource use and major investment of a World Fair must be promoted. The basic concept of “Norway Powered by Nature”, designed by Helen & Hard, directly engages this challenge, placing emphasis and awareness on multiple aspects of sustainability.
City – Nature:
The explosive urbanization that China is experiencing calls for an increased sensibility and consideration for both natural and human resources.
“Norway powered by Nature” contributes to these issues with an architecture that facilitates social sustainability, healthy public recreational areas and environmentally friendly urban structures and infrastructures. The pavilion consists of 15 assembled “trees” which create a sensory and multifunctional “forest” – a complex landscape which encourages physical and social activity while promoting sustainable principles. The physical structure is made from wood and bamboo, environmentally sound materials. Technology that will be used to provide water purification, air conditioning and solar energy becomes an integrated part of the exhibition.
A sustainable future use is not just about re-using materials but about an understanding of long-term cycles. Out of this understanding the pavilion is composed as prefabricated building kit of 15 “trees” constructed in timber. The “tree” structure allows each component to be autonomous or combinatory. After the Expo each of the trees in the exhibition can be easily dismantled and relocated. Several examples are a shaded park installation, playground or social meeting place. Local communities are invited to define an appropriate future use for the constituent parts beyond the Expo in 2010.
The whole and its parts
An intention of the design was to create a new whole through the synergetic linking of different disciplines, cultures and development processes. This new whole is expressed as an evocative and heterogeneous landscape, which combines Norwegian and Chinese culture, commerce, technology and art. There are various forms of interaction and experiences, as well as interpretations of Norwegian nature in relation to city development. Each tree functions simultaneously as construction, skin, infrastructure ( air-conditioning, water-,and energy supply, lighting etc.), furniture, exhibition, playground and information-display. All these requirements are intertwined in a multifunctional structure.
The choice of laminated timber for the main construction has been made to diminish impact on the environment. As a renewable material, timber is beneficial to the environment through the storing of CO2 and enabling easy assimilation into new cycles when disposed. Each ”tree” consists of a fabric roof, four ”branches”, a ”trunk” and ”roots”. The components of the 15 “trees” can be packed flat to make optimal use of space and transportation. A recently-developed timber-product in China, GluBam – Glue-laminated Bamboo, will be used for secondary supporting structures, the exhibitions and most of the surfaces in the pavilion.
The roof of the pavilion is a four point sail – membrane construction. The fabric shades against direct sunlight while admitting diffuse light, thus saving energy for interior lighting. The fabric reduces structural bulk, and is easy to transport and re-use.
The pavilion has a low-energy concept. Solar panels, water collection and adjustable air vents are all integrated into the architecture and part of the exhibition. Norway is on the forefront of water purification technology and these systems are used to purify rainwater collected on the pavilion roof. This technology is made visible and understandable to the public, who is invited to sip cooled, clean water from open taps. The ventilation system uses natural motive power (chimney effect plus wind).
In Norway nature and cultural activities are closely and distinctively interrelated. The exhibition aims to show differert aspects of this important relation both in the physical design and films that are playing in the landscapes under the trees. The roots of the trees are shaped to give assosiations to four characteristic Norwegian landscapes: the coast, the forest, the fjords and the arctic. Spatial characteristics and the intrinsic qualities of these landscapes are the foundation of the design in the interior zones of the pavilion. The infrastructure is also integrated in the roots, with ventilation chambers enclosed by glubam walls perforated with patterns according to the different landscapes. All elements are prefabricated and cnc cut out of 3cm thick bambooboards.The entire pavilion will be a powerful sensory experience, using a combination of visual, tactile, auditory and physical stimuli to create scenographic, spatial sequences.
Entering the pavilion, the audience passes through a cold mist transitioning from the busy and hot exterior into a refreshing indoor garden.
Through the mist an image of the coast is revealed, printed on the surrounding facades. LCD screens are integrated into massive form-pressed wooden waves where an introduction of the Norwegian pavilion is promoted. The sand colored floor, casted with stones, gives associations to a shore.
The walk continues into the urban forest, where fallen bamboo leafs are cast into a green coloured floor. The first row of roots resemble a city skyline with integrated screens showing films about the multiple relations between Norwegian cities and nature. The back row of roots are designed as landscape silhouettes populated by a miniature society designed by the artists Vegge & Kolsrud.
Towards the fjord the roots transform into ribs shaped as dramatic mountain cliffs reflected in the blue-glass floor. Between the ribs films promote travelling destinations, landscape architecture and architecture placed in nature. Between the cliffs are glimpses into the fjord arms where Norwegian water cleaning systems will be displayed.
At the fjord’s end white arctic trees with glass roots display information about the arctic areas. In the restaurant at the exit, a part of the arctic landscape, the visitor can enjoy Norwegian specialities.