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UN Studio | Theme Pavilion for the World Horticultural Expo (2014) in Qingdao, China

-®Edmon Leong_UNStudio Qingdao Horticultural Expo-11 The World Horticultural Expo 2014 was held in the Chinese city of Qingdao from April to October. The main theme of the expo is ‘From the Earth, For the Earth’ and aims to encourage the exchange of culture, technology and horticultural knowledge. In addition the role of the Expo as a catalyst for further undertakings and initiatives in the city of Qingdao will improve the city quality as a whole.

Theme Pavilion

In its design for the Theme Pavilion UNStudio combines expert knowledge of function programming, spatial organisation, future flexible usability, façade intelligence, user comfort and sustainability. By layering these aspects and following a user centred approach a unique experience for visitors to the Expo is created. The architectural design gesture for the pavilion is borrowed from the shape of the Chinese rose and converted into the floor plan layout of the design. The four pavilion volumes, or petals are connected by internal and external walkways and frame a central square. This arrangement was chosen based on UNStudio’s extensive experience in museum and theatre design, where the central square becomes a ‘stage’ for the visitors: a dynamic focal point surrounded by viewpoints on varying levels. As a result, an open air vertical lobby is created, where the walkways turn into Buena Vistas and become an integral part of the event. They provide infrastructural connections, promote view axes to the central square and across the expo terrain, and function as points of recognition for enhanced way finding. The 28,000 square meters Theme Pavilion comprises the main Expo hall, a grant performance hall, a conference centre, and a media centre.

Facade programming, recognisable routing and meeting points

UNStudio’s theme pavilion incorporates multiple scales: it brings together and references the different floral gardens which are programmed on the site. Furthermore it operates as a platform for monthly programmed and seasonally themed activities, featuring flowers in spring, shading in summer, fruits in autumn and greens in winter. The Rainbow Ribbons provide the routing and infrastructure for the expo and permeate the entire surrounding landscape, celebrating the colour variety that flowers have to offer all around the world. This colour concept is further reflected in the facade elements which are constructed from vertically folded aluminium panels. The four theme colours (green, yellow, orange and blue) are applied along the lengths of the vertical folds, appearing and disappearing depending on the viewpoint. Soft, coloured down-lighting is incorporated into the facade for use in the evening or when there is little sunlight, thereby presenting a lively programmed background for all of the events planned throughout the year. The use of green in the core graphics is intended to highlight the importance given to ecology, the full use of green energy and environmental awareness. The whole architecture of the Theme Pavilion also relates to the dominant skyline of the mountains surrounding the Masterplan by means of carefully composed roof scapes on the individual buildings. These roofs are envisioned as elevated landscaped plateaus, each addressing a different portion of the Master plan by different inclination and terracing and providing panoramic views which extend far into the surrounding landscape.

Future flexibility

The Expo, presented in the Baiguoshan Forest Park in the Licang District, makes it the first horticultural expo held in a mountainous area and in a coastal city in china. Qingdao enjoys clean air and a pleasant climate. To further similar development approaches for the rest of the city, the Horticultural Expo uses eco-friendly design and environmental awareness as anchor points for the event promotion. This way the enjoyable conditions, combined with the European roots and international connectivity of the city, will transform the area into a region where future eco-tourism will become an economic driver. Following the World Horticultural Expo, the landscaped art themed expo park will become a new venue for eco-tourism, which will shift the focus of Qingdao’s tourism from sightseeing to leisure. Event spaces and pavilions will therefore have more than one life, as the buildings will accommodate new functions following the expo event. Together with the organisers, UNStudio has already incorporated a possible future lifecycle into the design of the Theme Pavilion by allowing a transformation of the buildings into a hotel building, accommodating conference and teaching facilities.


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