chinese studio penda has been chosen to fill the 30,000 m2 pavilion site for the 2019 horticultural expo in beijing, china, with their botanical pavilion proposal titled ‘a thousand yards’. the expo site, situated on the threshold between the urban city and a forested area, is set to be transformed into a residential area to benefit from the privileged location. as such, the pavilion was designed as a fully modular, pre-fabricated and decentralized series of structures. instead of a singular building on a site, a thousand yards establishes an invisible grid which develops clusters of five principle uses for the expo and gradually blends them together. 

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the 30,000 m2 site houses color-coded clustered functions that blend architecturally into one another
image © penda (also first image)

 

 

in order to maintain a new sense of interaction between the visitor and the structure, penda did away with forced circulation and replaced it with a series of ‘roads’ and passageways allowing guests to inhabit what is organized more as a small village with clusters of buildings and various open squares. the ground levels of most structures can be passed through providing more freedom in a person’s trajectory while exposing them to the various functions. upon entering, each guest is given a bag of seeds which are meant to be planted on one of the many gardens present throughout the various levels and rooftops. with this method, each visitor gets the unique opportunity to play the role of the designer, leaving their own mark on the aesthetic of the structure. when the plants have grown to maturity the staff harvest them and use them to prepare locally-grown and healthy dishes at the restaurant. 

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the grid established throughout the site allows for a solid and void relationship giving way to gardens
image © penda

 

 

the modular units are based on the traditional chinese unit of area called ‘li’- an 8m x 8m square. built of cross-laminated timber beams fabricated off site and assembled in place, the structures can grow horizontally and vertically to accommodate an increased need for space. also importantly, the modules can be deconstructed and recycled elsewhere resulting in virtually zero waste. this is important not only to the functions hosted in the pavilion itself but also for its re-adaptation after the expo has finished. each module, for example, is perfectly sized and built to the typical dimensions of a classroom, and is designed to be easily subdivided further into bedrooms using the existing bracing.  as a result, the pavilion grows much as its plants do- each of the color coded programmatic elements can exhibit a different character and relationship to the guest. as visitors are constantly emerged within the site and interacting with the built green landscape, the concept of waiting in lines to see a certain event has been erased. 

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a network of paths passing around and through the structures allows visitors to roam freely through the pavilion and to others around it
image © penda

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image © penda

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each structure is built to accommodate its specific function, incorporating gardens on almost every level
image © penda

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image © penda

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image © penda

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image © penda

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the modular nature of the units provides many opportunities to design each one as a unique architectural experience
image © penda

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image © penda

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image © penda

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image © penda

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from a distance, the pavilion in reminiscent of a small village
image © penda

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image © penda

 

 

project info:

 

name: ‘a thousand yards’ – botanical pavilion for the 2019 international horticultural expo in beijing
type: pavilion, exhibition, school
location: beijing / china
year: 2016 / 2017
size: 25,000 sqm landscape; 12,000 sqm building
team: chris precht, dayong sun, jing wang, li pengchong, wen xu, frank li, mingxue sun, xue bai
credits: penda architecture & design
renderings: penda

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