The 2014 China Flower Expo in Wujin just completed construction on a set of curvaceous, futuristic pavilions that resemble giant floating flower petals. Working with Chris Yiu-hang Chan and Stephanie Mee-lee Tan and inspired by the expo's sustainable building theme, Lab Architecture Studio created a strong nature-focused design for the Art and Science Pavilions. Designed to blend into the surrounding topography, the pavilions also boast a variety sustainable design mechanisms that reduce their environmental impact.
Located on the banks of West Tai-hu Lake, the curveacous forms of the two pavilions represent floating flower petals, however the complex itself has deeper attachments to the surrounding landscape. The design of the two pavilions was primarily focused on eliciting a soothing harmony between the artificial structure and its natural environment, actively avoiding the tension so commonly found between architecture and nature.
According to the architects, the two separate pavilions represent the immense potential of using ecological building principles to embrace a complimentary relationship between art, architecture and nature. To achieve this balance, the Art Pavilion and the Science Pavilion were built some distance apart in order to encourage visitors to enjoy the natural landscape as they walk between the two sites, essentially blending the interior art and science exhibitions found inside the pavilions with the natural environment on the exterior.
Although the pavilions are distinct in terms of exhibition space and use, their similar curvaceous appearance creates solidarity between the two buildings. Strategic use of loops and overlapping ellipses creates the illusion of gliding deconstructed forms that continue throughout the interior space, courtyard and transition areas. This continual movement is a subtle nod to traditional Chinese spacial concepts, which reinforces the notion that architecture is not singular, but a mechanism that produces a continual stream, connecting indoor and outdoor space and everything in between.
Paying respect to the Flower Expo’s theme of sustainable building practices, a variety of green features were incorporated. A highly translucent ETFE weatherproof membrane reduces heat gains during the hot summer months and the jagged façade allows for passive air ventilation in the buildings’ gallery spaces. These sustainable aspects within the stunning nature-inspired design result in one very distinctive and harmonic structure, creating the perfect ambience for the 8th Chinese Flower Expo.
Images by Ryuji Miya and provided by Chris Y.H. Chan