Designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind (New York/Milan/Zurich), the corporate pavilion for Vanke Chinawill explore key issues related to the theme ofthe Expo,“Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. The interior exhibition design is led by Ralph AppelbaumAssociates(NewYork/London/Beijing/Berlin/Moscow) withgraphic design by Han Jiaying (Beijing).
Theconcept for the Vanke Pavilion incorporates three ideasdrawn from Chinese culture related to food: the shi-tang, a traditional Chinese dining hall; the landscape, the fundamental element to life; and the dragon,which is metaphoricallyrelated to farming and sustenance. All three of theseconcepts are incorporatedintheVanke Pavilion’sexhibition, architecture and program.
“As the rapid growth of cities forces populations to live in closer proximity and the risk of social disintegration rises, wecommissioned thispavilion to address both metaphorically and physicallythe issues of contemporary life related to the theme of the Expo,” said Wang Shi, Chairman, China Vanke. “The traditionof food in Chinese culturehas many strong associations,from the conceptof the shi-tang (dining hall) totheform of thedragon, which is mythically derived from the history of agriculture in China. Through these conceptswe aim to represent Vanke’sgoals on a global scale: the possibility to create vibrant, healthy communities in a sustainable and innovative environment,” added Chairman Wang.
Situated on the southeast edge of the Lake Arena, the 800-square meter pavilion appears to rise from the east,forming a dynamic,vertical landscape. The design features a sinuous geometrical pattern that flows between inside and outside. A grand staircase,clad in warm grey concrete,carves through the red serpentine form andguidesvisitors to the upper level. Aroof-top observation deck with a planted garden will provide stunning views of the lake and near-by Italian pavilion.
2Theconcept behindthe design was to incorporate many aspects of Chinese life into the project. The pavilionis a dynamic structure that represents the growth and enduranceof the Chinese people. It is a complete fusion of internal and external space, which allows foran unexpected encounter between thepavilion and its surrounding public space.
The pavilion isclad in more than 4,000red metalized tilesthat Libeskind designed with the Italian company Casalgrande Padana. The geometric ceramic panels not only create an expressive patternthat is evocative of a dragon-like skin, but alsopossess highly sustainable self-cleaning and air purification properties.The three-dimensional surface is coated with a metallic coloration that changes as light and viewpoints shift. At times it will appear as deep crimson, then a dazzling gold, and even, at certain angles, a brilliant white. The tiles are installed with a state-of-the-art cladding supportsystem that givesa rhythmic pattern andmathematical form to an otherwise supple, torquing shape. Two spiraling stairs, echoing the form,ascend the pavilion to the south, and to the north from the Lake Arena entrance, serving both as circulation and seating.Inside the pavilion, visitors encounter anexhibition space filled with aconstellationof 200 screens mounted toa matrix of bamboo scaffolding.The forest of screensand bamboofloats above a windingreflecting pool that borders the visitor pathway.As visitors move through the space, a ten-minute narrative experience unfolds across the screens and over 22 channels of audio.With each step and every turn of the head, the space and story appears anew: it is rich and layered; it is at once fragmented and simultaneously reads as anenthralling, shattered whole. The narrative vacillates between chaos and calm. The frenzy of life in the city is starkly juxtaposed with the extreme slow motion of a communal meal, first in its preparation and then in its consumption. The message—about the power and possibility to forge connections and build community through food—is meant to be understood more viscerally than intellectually.
“The Vanke Pavilion exhibition was the result of many symbiotic forces: between architecture and exhibit design, exhibit design and media production, artists and patrons. The result is a rarecreation indeed: a large-scale, extraordinarily complex experience that feels as if it were drawn by one hand,” said Alex Vlack, directorof the media.
The top level of the pavilion provides a private space to accommodate small events and host VIPs. The intimate room features an open layout, a large skylight that ushers in natural daylight, Casalgrande Padana tiled flooring, bamboo veneer wall coverings and a dramatic hand-blown glass chandelier designed by Libeskind for the Czech artisanal glass company Lasvit.