An unexpected forest grows on the former industrial grounds at the 2015 Milan Expo. Occupying a small site for 560 square meters, the miniature forest is no accident of nature— TEAM.BREATHE.AUSTRIA planted the Austrian forest as part of the Austrian pavilion ‘breathe.’ The pavilion highlights the country’s fresh and high-quality Alpine air as well as oxygen’s importance to the Expo theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.”
The Austrian forest impressively provides oxygen for 1,800 people per hour—an amount close to 62.5 kg of fresh oxygen per hour. The lush vegetation uses evapotranspiration to create a cooling microclimate; no air conditioning systems are necessary for the pavilion. The pavilion structure forms a wooden frame around the forest to bring the “outdoors” in.
The breathe pavilion offers a multi-sensory experience beyond the natural cooling microclimate. A pathway that cuts through the forest leads visitors through clouds of mist and illuminated art installations that spell out words like ‘BREATHE’ and ‘WE GROW.’ ‘Smell stations’ and ‘sound clouds’ engage the senses further. “The forest is both the formal vessel for the leitmotif “Air and Climate in the 21st century” and a space for substantive interventions and experiments in artistic and scientific work,” write the designers. “Stimulated by their senses, visitors to the Austrian pavilion will undertake a journey of discovery that presents air as an essential source of nourishment.”
All photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat