Air is a necessity for human life: this is why Austria’s Pavilion offered visitors a path through a microclimate characterized by the country’s typical vegetation, capable of creating naturally cooler temperatures without air conditioning: cooling plants indeed!
You can live for five weeks without food, and five days without water, but not even five minutes without air. Air, in other words, is the number one necessity among the planet’s resources. This was the theme inspiring Austria’s Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015, titled significantly Breathe. As soon as visitors entered, they found themselves immersed in a fragment of Austrian woodland, with trees soaring up to heights of 12 meters… higher than some of the buildings.
In these conditions, you didn’t need conditioning… the climate became naturally cooler (about 5° C than outside of the forest). This outcome was the result of a clever combination of nature and technology: the trees were cooling on account of their shadows, but also due to the evaporation that took place on their leaves (and as the info panels reminded us, in this space the total leaf surface added up to 43,200 square meters). Innovative technology was employed to boost the refrigerating effect: ventilators and nebulizers activated by sensors created a pleasurably refreshing effect, thanks to the micro-drops emitted. Wall surfaces – made of multilayered wood which help keep temperatures more temperate – shared information about the Pavilion and about the importance of Austria’s woodlands: after all, no less than 47.6% of the country is covered by vegetation. Throughout the itinerary, interactive ‘naturescopes’ allowed the visitor to magnify and observe the plants, discovering fascinating information about the habitat of the undergrowth.
A picnic in the wilds, prepared by top chefs
The Pavilion also featured an original gastronomic area, called the Luftbar (“Air Bar”), which invited visitors to taste woodland delicacies: chefs from the Koch Campus School prepared a variety of snacks for a rustic picnic, to be relished on nearby park benches. And to drink? The most natural solution, naturally: free water from taps serving purified water.
An experience worth repeating
At the end of the visit, the visitor realized that the Pavilion they have just explored was actually an air production unit: all the plants in there produced fresh oxygen for 1,800 visitors an hour. And at the same time they bonded to carbon dioxide to the tune of 92 kg per day. A cooling pause which, after Expo Milano 2015, could do with being repeated in many oxygen-starved cities!