Expo 17: Green building takes centre stage
Expo 17, held in the up-and-coming capital city of Kazakhstan, Astana. 2017’s event will be based wholly around the theme of “Future Energy” so visitors can expect to see a range of green-themed buildings, pavilions and exhibits.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, the Expos is a series of world fairs whose aim is to promote progress, foster global cooperation, educate the public on hot topics and share innovations.
Architecture forms a crucial part of all Expos. Previous events have been home to some works that have gone on to become truly iconic. 1889’s Paris Expo, for example, gave the world the Eiffel Tower whereas Expo Brussels, held in 1958, André Waterkyn’s Atomium stole the show.
Expo 17 seeks to continue this grand tradition as the event’s major talking point will be Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture’s 173-hectare festival masterplan. The Chicago-based studio fended off competition from 105 rival firms to win the chance to design Expo 17’s festival site. Given that AA + GG was up against some truly fantastic architectural practices, including Zaha Hadid Architects, UNStudio and Snohettta, this was no mean feat.
AA + GG readily adapted their designs, called “Expo City” to meet the demands set in place by the “Future Energy” theme. The studio’s masterplan is AA + GG’s attempts to create the “first Third Industrial Revolution city.” This means incorporating green technologies and building practices across the entire site.
Thanks to Expo 17’s focus on promoting eco-friendly technologies and materials, the festival site will incorporate sustainable energy sources into its very fabric. All the energy consumed by visitors to the exhibition will be generated from renewable sources including solar panels and wind turbines worked into or situated close to the site’s many structures.
A certain futuristic aesthetic has been worked into each of Expo 17’s requisite structures. During the first phase of construction, which is well underway after the initial ground-breaking ceremony in 2014, a wealth of self-sustaining buildings will be built.
As well as the exposition pavilions, which will host each visiting nation’s attractions for Expo 17’s duration, a hotel, retail art and performance spaces, plus residential and office accommodations will be incorporated into the masterplan. All buildings will be hooked up to a “smart grid” that will allow each structure to become a “generator of power.”
Taking centre stage, however, will be host nation Kazakhstan’s own pavilion. According to AA + GG, visitors will be astonished by the “transformative skin”, which clads the pavilion’s exteriors. This skin “reduces thermal loss and interior solar glare.” A host of built-in systems, including photovoltaics, will save energy while also increasing the pavilion’s output.
The phrase “Third Industrial Revolution” was first coined by economist Jeremy Rifkin. In his popular book The Third Industrial Revolution, Rifkin theorises how Internet technology and renewable energy will transform global economies and energy consumption in the near future.
Kazakhstan’s President, Nursultan Nazabayev, has taken Rifkin’s ideology to heart. Eco City, President Nazabayev hopes, will be the first major step in turning Kazakhstan into a truly sustainable country.
Expo 17 will no doubt be replete with amazing architectural pavilions and designs beyond AA + GG’s work. While no major studios have released plans for their respective country’s exhibition spaces at the time of writing, the British pavilion is projected to cost around £2 million – giving some indication into the huge sums being poured into each exhibit.
Expo City forms a crucial part of Kazakhstan’s drive to improve green building and renewable energy standards across the country. Indeed, the festival site will form part of Astana’s overall development plan to become a fully green city by 2030 and an example to architects everywhere for the potential for eco-friendly building techniques and their global impact.
Images: © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects
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