swiss pavilion to unfold as a cluster of spheres engulfed by plants at expo 2025 osaka

swiss pavilion to unfold as a cluster of spheres engulfed by plants at expo 2025 osaka

swiss pavilion pairs nature and culture at expo 2025 osaka

 

Switzerlands nature and tradition of humanism have become the focus of the Swiss pavilion at Expo 2025 Osaka. Designed by Manuel Herz Architects, the proposal envisions a building with a cluster of plastic-based spheres that interweave nature and culture, or natural space and manmade space, which are often thought of as separate and discreet. In other words, it is a pavilion deeply embedded in nature that grows into, overgrows, and surrounds the building. Beyond that, the architects seek to create a building with a tiny footprint, ‘the smallest footprint of all previous Swiss pavilions from previous Expos. The lighter the building, the smaller the ecological footprint,’ the team shares. 

swiss pavilion to unfold as a cluster of spheres engulfed by plants at expo 2025 osaka
all renderings © Play-Time Barcelona

 

 

Manuel Herz Architects’ low-carbon, spherical design

 

The exhibition area of the Swiss Pavilion consists of a double-chamber foil with a supporting structure held at ground level to avoid vertical circulation, elevators, or escalators. Manuel Herz Architects (see more here) proposes to cover the spheres with plants overgrowing in every direction. ‘We grow the plants in local nurseries so that every kilogram of plant weight corresponds to one kilogram of CO2 removed from the atmosphere,’ the studio clarifies. Meanwhile, the ‘back-of-house’ features repurposed modular elements with an eventual afterlife. The foil, and ultimately the entire pavilion, are equally recyclable and will be converted into furniture and other uses once Expo 2025 Osaka concludes.

swiss pavilion to unfold as a cluster of spheres engulfed by plants at expo 2025 osaka
Swiss Pavilion at Expo 2025 Osaka

 

 

Structurally, the Swiss Pavilion requires a pneumatic shell made of ETFE. This Teflon-like polymeric plastic functions as a hollow chamber supported by a steel structure, allowing pneumatic pressure to be generated only within the building — meaning that no airlocks are required between exterior and interior. The inner and outer skins can be colored differently, creating a darkened interior despite a light appearance on the outside. The ETFE shell is fully recyclable and has a low weight per area, and the supporting structure’s bolted spans at the intersections prevent bending.

swiss pavilion to unfold as a cluster of spheres engulfed by plants at expo 2025 osaka
pneumatic shell made of ETFE

 

 

using light and color as means of staging inside the pavilion

 

Lightness plays a key role in the scenography by Bellprat Partner, who uses light and color as a means of staging. The spectral colors highlight the essence of each space within the Swiss Pavilion, ensuring a continuous narrative thread without words. In the ‘Spheres of Swiss Innovation,’ visitors not only learn and experience what it takes to make innovation possible in Switzerland (nutrients and magic), but they can also co-create a ‘Future Society’ with researchers, universities, and other participants, and test the thesis based on implemented examples on site (Living Lab). Visitors can also grab a Swiss innovation seed, allowing it to grow and flourish outside the spheres. Swiss innovations are offered to-go in the shop and the highest ‘Sphere’ of the pavilion, while a roof-top bar offers scenic views of the bay of Osaka at Expo 2025.

swiss pavilion to unfold as a cluster of spheres engulfed by plants at expo 2025 osaka
Swiss innovations are offered to-go in the shop

swiss pavilion to unfold as a cluster of spheres engulfed by plants at expo 2025 osaka
rooftop-bar

swiss-pavilion-expo-osaka-2025-designboom-full

 

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ground floor plan | © Manuel Herz Architects
ground floor plan | © Manuel Herz Architects
rooftop plan | © Manuel Herz Architects
rooftop plan | © Manuel Herz Architects
cross sections | © Manuel Herz Architects
cross sections | © Manuel Herz Architects
Swiss pavilion model |  © Manuel Herz Architects
Swiss pavilion model | © Manuel Herz Architects

project info:

 

name: Swiss Pavilion

program: Expo 2025 Osaka @expo2025japan

architecture: Manuel Herz Architects @manuel.herz

team: Diogo Franco, Ben Olschner, Francesca Mautone

client: Presence Switzerland

local architect: Atelier Morf Inc.
scenographer: Bellprat Partner
landscape architect: Robin Winogrond
structural engineer: SBP -Schlaich Bergermann Partner

contractor: Nüssli Group

MEP engineer: EnergyTech
academic partner: Kyoto Design Lab (Kyoto Institute of Technology)

visualizations: Play-Time Barcelona

model photos: Manuel Herz Architects
ground breaking: March 2024

expected completion: March 2025
expo dates: April13, 2025 – October 13, 2025

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