The theme of Expo 2010 in Shanghai, Better City, Better Life, was sustainable urban development for the future. With this theme in mind, it seemed almost impossible to legitimise the use of extensive resources to erect a 2,800 square meter exhibition pavilion for a period of only 140 days. Thus, our project aimed to extend the life of the pavilion through after use.
We invested less in the formal design and focused more on creating a loose constellation of self-sustained components which could easily be erected, dismantled and transformed. At the same time, we were expected to fulfill certain aesthetic and narratives qualities which could represent Norway at the World Expo.
This led us to the idea of a field of “trees” which would answer most requirements of the program and, at the same time, adapt to the enormous number of external inputs in the short, half-year design process.
For the duration of the Expo the trees were assembled into a sensory and multifunctional “forest.” After the Expo, each individual tree would be reused as a social meeting place, playground, climbing tree, or other types of functional installations.
Each tree is made up of a laminated timber construction with four CNC cut and milled branches, with one trunk and four roots serving as foundations. The load-bearing construction was produced in Norway and the rest of the pavilion in China. The four branches uphold a pre-tensioned four-point membrane roof in Teflon.
Integral to the design was the avoidance of a separated interior and exterior and the minimisation of the contrast between the architecture and the official Norwegian exhibition, which was designed separately and installed afterwards.
In the exhibition, clusters of trees created interpretations of characteristic Norwegian landscapes: the coast, forest, fjord, and the Arctic.
The relation between these landscapes and urban life was communicated through visuals, tactile, auditory and physical stimuli in scenographic spatial sequences.
The Pavilion was made up of fifteen trees, each of them a functional part of the whole – which meant that each indivdual tree was influenced both from the top down and from the bottom up.
To grasp the functional possibilities for after-use, we initially planned to start the design process with both Norwegian profesionnals as well as local inhabitants. Unfortunately, the merging of these different design processes, normally temporally and geographically separated, was not accepted by our Norwegian client.
Nevertheless, we had several workshops with Chinese students about the programmatic, figurative and financial possibilities for the after-use.