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Irish Pavilion Expo 2000 Hanover Germany

  • Architect:
    Murray O'Laoire
  • Award Type:
    Regional Award 2001
  • Location: Overseas
Irish Pavilion Expo 2000 Hanover Germany


Overseas (over £100,000)

An exhibition building which demonstrates accomplished Irish design and use of materials in an international setting. 

Clients Comments 
The objective of the design competition for the Irish Pavilion was to select a building and exhibition that would raise the profile of Ireland among visitors in an entertaining manner. In effect, the pavilion would represent an Ireland that is confident and at ease with itself at the start of the new Millennium, would speak both to the millions who passed by and to the hundreds of thousands who would enter, would be a working example of innovative sustainable principles and would capable of being dismantled and brought home for re-use after EXPO. The design team produced and excellent building that not only met but surpassed our requirements. Over five months, we had almost 2.2 million visitors out of a total visitor number for EXPO of 18 million.

Architects Comments
The overall concept is derived from the Irish landscape. The most evocative of humankind’s many imprints on the landscape are in stone, in particular the field wall, which provides the inspiration for the Irish Pavilion. Two contrasting walls, one a gabion wall of metal baskets containing undressed stone, and the other a polished Kilkenny limestone wall, serve to symbolise the contrast between old and new, rural and urban, tradition and modernity.

The exhibition space itself is a lightweight structure, which floats between the walls above the landscape. An abstracted field pattern forms the ground plane, with a water body flowing under the building, interspersed with fibre optic reeds illuminated at night. The visitor journey takes the form of an ascending spiral, a common Celtic symbol, achieved by a series of ramps divided into a number of sequential spaces. These spaces are broadly chronological in organisation and fuse elements of traditional museum-display, specially commissioned artwork, state-of-the-art interactive presentations, and special sensory effects to take the visitor on a ‘journey’ through Ireland from pre-history to the present day and beyond.

The Pavilion is a low energy building using no artificial heating or air-conditioning. The thermally "massive" walls and the concrete precast floor act to absorb heat during the exhibition. As the main exhibition floor is suspended, natural stack effect ventilation occurs through floor vents and opening roof windows. The central river feature has the effect of cooling the air which passes though perforated cladding in the central pod wall, under the first ramp and into the glass box.