Architecture – With mesmerizing light shows and over 80,000 plants of more than 170 plant varieties, the Singapore Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai showcases a prototype of what it means to be a sustainable, liveable and resilient city of the future. “In Dubai, Singapore demonstrates the potential to push the envelope to integrate nature, architecture and technology.”
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Themed Nature. Nurture. Future., the biophilic pavilion was designed by WOHA Architects as a green, living self-sufficient ecosystem celebrating the spirit of the city-state’s forward-thinking innovators. “With this project, we brought an oasis of lush trees, verdant shrubs and vibrant orchids to the desert,” Explained at WOHA.
Sheltered by a solar canopy, the Singapore Pavilion operates entirely on solar energy and will maintain a net-zero energy footprint over its operation period. “We used passive strategies like sun-shading, natural cross-ventilation and planting to create a comfortable and cool climate.”
The pavilion is anchored around three thematic cones: the City Cone, the Rainforest Cone and the Flower Cone, all draped in multilayered greenery and connected by suspended walkways. Landscape architecture is by Salad Landscape.
The Dipterocarp seed kinetic sculptures are the centre-piece of the Rainforest Cone. They are inspired by the spinning movement of the winged seeds of trees from the Dipterocarp family, making up 80% of the tropical forest canopy.
In the City Cone, drone footage and hundreds of videos depict environmental challenges faced by global urbanisation, and the innovative urban solutions Singapore has realised to create a city where the built environment co-exists in harmony with nature.
The Flower Cone area celebrates innovation and co-creation with nature through a creative play of light, shadows and the vivid colour of more than 50 native orchid varieties orchids planted in four terrariums set against a wall.
Three climbing robots moving on rails along the curved green vertical walls are equipped with cameras and sensors. They are trained through machine learning to monitor plants’ health and collect environmental data that optimize the pavilion’s systems, such as the calibration of irrigation and grow-light settings.
In the day, a journey through the Pavilion is like a walk into a tropical forest, with rays of daylight filtering through the verdant landscape. Come sundown, the Pavilion presents a different experience that evokes images of an enchanted forest, thanks to Singapore-based practice Light Collab‘s mesmerising lighting design.
The nightly Biomorphosis light show is an enchanting spectacle of luminosity, shadows and sound. The pavilion rhythmically pulses along to a soundscape composed by Singaporean musician Don Richmond. The hanging garden and surrounding beams are aglow with grow lights that are carefully calibrated to support plant growth. Along the suspended walkways, strategically-placed fibre optic lighting in the Ground Garden creates the illusion of luminous fireflies flitting about in the twilight.
At the Sky Market event space, on the top of the building, screenings of award-winning documentaries and short films offer a Singaporean perspective on the most pressing challenges we face as a world today, including climate change, sustainable development, technological advancement and food resilience.
Photos: © Singapore Pavilion.