One could say the refurbishment plans for the Netherlands’ Expo pavilion in Hanover, recently presented by Dutch architecture studio MVRDV, represent a return to the beginning. On behalf of iLive Expo Campus GmbH, the architects are going to transform the former Expo highlight into an office building. The tower of stacked landscapes can surely be described as MVRDV’s breakthrough onto the international stage. In addition, two new buildings will be added to the surrounding area: one will feature 350 micro-apartments for students, while the other will accommodate further offices and a parkade.
The original design for the Expo 2000 pavilion was a response to the Netherlands’ Expo theme: Holland Creates Space. Instead of cultivating plants over the entire parcel of land, MVRDV stacked six Dutch landscapes as a tower on one part of the lot. The remaining area became a public outdoor space on the Expo grounds. The pavilion was one of the most-visited buildings. As a symbol for a country defined by a lack of land, the pavilion conveyed the message that space can be artificially created and vertically stacked. It became a testimonial to sustainable design in that it depicted the ideal of a building as a self-contained ecosystem that integrates nature and generates its own internal resource cycles.
The current project maintains the concept of the stacked landscape. The existing building will be renovated; two stepped structures will be added on the edge of the original plot. The old pavilion will house an eatery, offices and meeting rooms in a co-working space. In order to preserve the characteristics of the original design, the offices on the first upper storey (a row of greenhouses once stood there) will be arranged in a strictly linear fashion. The “flowerpots” on the second upper level are to be glassed in and turned into meeting rooms and office spaces. Even the forest levels and exterior staircases are to remain; the ground-floor “dunes” will become a meeting point featuring small cafés and an exhibition space. New façades of extra-clear glass will be added in order to maintain the open, transparent character of the design.
The two new buildings will be terraced down to the shared forecourt. Borrowing from the concept of the stacked landscapes, the roofs of the new structures will form a row of colourful patios, each offering users a different function. These patios will be linked via a polychromatic band that extends over the different levels and defines new uses and spaces.