Brainchild of Singapore-based, WOHA Architects, the Singapore Pavilion at World Expo 2020, Dubai, seeks to demonstrate how to coexist with Nature. Building on the theme of ‘Nature, Nurture, Future’, the pavilion integrates Nature, innovation and architecture, capturing Singapore’s vision of becoming the City in Nature.
The pavilion is designed as a net-zero structure, utilising the abundance of sun available in the desert region, producing its own electricity with its solar canopy. Designed to resemble an oasis in the desert, the structure aims to emulate Singapore’s success of integrating Nature within its small footprint. As a mirror image, the pavilion sits on one of the smallest plots of the expo but works hard to create a big impact.
Heavy landscaping is achieved through layering of spaces. Visitors get to take an experiential journey through the suspended walkways as they meander through the pavilion’s multiple levels while being surrounded by verdant palms, trees, shrubs and vibrant orchids. The pavilion is designed with a central aim to indulge people in a biophilic environment and to prove that even in such extreme temperatures it is possible to build in partnership with Nature.
“Our climate crisis shows us that the impact of human actions on the planet cannot be ignored, and that urgent action needs to be taken. This reinforces the aspirations of the SG Pavilion: to design a different future and to create a sustainable, resilient environment in which humans co-exist with nature,” said the pavilion curators.
The canopy walk resembles walking along the forest floor, and quite literally takes the visitors to the top of the canopy to ‘open sky market’ platform, meant as a place for congregation and engagement. Protected from the elements topped by the solar canopy, this is where people come together and collaborate. The pavilion also uses efficient solar-osmosis desalination system to meet its water needs. To create net-zero building, the architecture has integrated several passive cooling strategies to make the pavilion comfortable for the extreme Dubai’s weather. These strategies include natural cross-ventilation, sun-shading and planting, which have been implemented to create comfortable climate for visitors to enjoy and plants to thrive in.
Hosting 170 varieties of plants that will grow over the period, the pavilion play an important part in providing measurable ecosystem services like reducing solar heat, sequestration of greenhouse gases, reduction of other pollutants such as PM10 particles, oxygen production, rainwater remediation, while providing habitat to the animals.
The Singapore pavilion showcases the possibility of building in tandem with Nature, creating self-reliant, self-sufficient structures and cities. Its architects hope that these strategies can be adapted to suit different climates, geographies and possibly be scaled up from city block to a city level.
WOHA was founded by Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell in 1994. The Singapore-based practice focuses on researching and innovating integrated architectural and urban solutions to tackle the problems of the 21st century, such as climate change, population growth and rapidly increasing urbanisation.
WOHA has accrued a varied portfolio of work and is known for its distinct approach to biophilic design and integrated landscaping. The practice applies its systems thinking approach to architecture and urbanism in their building design as well as its regenerative masterplans. Its rating system to measure the performance of buildings, as laid out in their book “Garden City Mega City”, has garnered interest internationally and is being adopted into construction policies in several cities.