The Singapore Pavilion located in the Sustainability District at the 2020 World Expo Dubai is an architectural interpretation of sustainability, future, and more. Encapsulating Singapore’s story of overcoming its physical limitations as a small island city-state and adapting itself to become a liveable and biophilic city of the future, the pavilion also reflects the theme of ‘Nature, Nurture, Future’.
The design has been integrated with lust landscaping, conveying how well a built environment can help in intensifying nature in an urban setting. Operating entirely on solar energy and solar desalination systems, the pavilion will maintain a net-zero energy footprint over the 6-month Expo period. Passive strategies like natural cross-ventilation and sun-shading have been implemented to create a comfortable climate for the visitors, as well as the plants. Beyond creating a biophilic environment, the plants provide important ecosystem services like solar heat reduction, sequestration of greenhouse gases, reduction of other pollutants such as PM10 particles, oxygen production, rainwater remediation as well as providing habitats for animals.
To maximize and multiply usable area, the design takes a layered approach, stacking multiple levels and functions on top of each other. The ground-level garden is a landscaped park, welcoming visitors from an arid and hard-edged environment into a biophilic, voluminous 3-dimensional green space. Flanked by forest trees on both sides, and capped with a spectacular hanging garden comprising of an array of pots with a mixture of draping vines, the green space is a striking vision. The garden paths lead visitors across an undulating terrain with water streams, planted knolls, and 9 meters tall vertical thematic cones, emphasizing the experience of a lush, tropical and refreshing Singapore.
A meandering canopy walk brings the visitors around and through the three thematic cones at different levels. The first cone offers an artistic multimedia experience of Singapore’s solutions to global issues. The second cone showcases Singapore’s multitude of orchid species in a vast spectrum of colors. The final cone is a sensory green space that spirals around the fog, rainbows, and a sinning dipterocarp sculpture. The cones are topped with the Open Sky Market platform, a space for congregation and engagement, which is sheltered by a solar canopy – shading the pavilion from the sun and generating electricity at the same time. The visitors experience Singapore’s uniqueness through these cones, supplemented with QR-linked information.
The canopy walk opens up to a sky market, an open deck for a curated food menu, exhibition, and programs, sheltered under the solar canopy made of 517 solar panels. The solar canopy will generate 161 MWh over its 6-month operation period, enough to power 70 standard households in Singapore for half a year. The water desalination system treats 40 m3 of water per day which is used to irrigate the plants and operate the Pavilion.
The galleria, where the experience concludes, displays Singapore’s design stories and also has a shop. Despite the heat of the desert, the visitors’ can have a unique experience through shading, evapo-transpirations cooling of the surrounding vegetation, and the strategic placement of fine mist fans that cool the air by about 5-10 degree Celsius.
The Singapore Pavilion is a prototype that could be scaled up and adapted to different climate zones. It is an innovative and seamless integration of nature and buildings. It shows a captivating and forward-looking Singapore that is sociable, sustainable, and liveable.