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Germany Pavilion
Client: Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi); Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH (Management Company)
Design: Milla & Partner GmbH; Schmidhuber
Fabrication: Nussli Group
PHOTOS: Schmidhuber; Milla & Partner GmbH
Expo 2015 Awards: Best Pavilion
For the third consecutive world expo, Germany takes top honors in the Best Pavilion category with an experience-rich space full of interactives, engaging presentations, and artful scenography. Germany's slogan ("Fields of Ideas") comes to full bloom in this immersive space.

After a quick pre-show presentation, the experience begins in a blue-tinged room that focuses on the importance of water for human nutrition. Guests interact with a slew of exhibits, employing a barrage of interactive projections highlighting the importance of soil, water, climate, and biodiversity. In one section of the pavilion attendees can pop open an umbrella and see images of the ecological disaster that almost turned the Aral Sea into the Aral Desert projected onto the umbrella's surface.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID
"This pavilion alone contains an entire world's expo worth of experiences."
Deeper in the pavilion, touchscreens set in shopping bins mounted on a wall impart data on the new German food label that pinpoints the regional origins of victuals. More than just clever technology, the pavilion includes info on scientific breakthroughs such as Typhaboard, a mildew-resistant material made from bulrushes, that lend an air of innovation to the space.

On the top floor, plants offer a fragrant frame for more exhibits on urban gardening. The experience ends with a brief show entitled "Be(e) active," where musicians coax the audience into clapping and making animal sounds, while monitors show a bee's-eye view of the German countryside.

"This pavilion alone contains an entire world's expo worth of experiences," said one Expo 2015 Awards judge, while another referred to the pavilion as "a masterful use of unique exhibits exploring a cohesive theme using novel, charming, technology."


HONORABLE MENTIONS

Austria Pavilion
Austria Pavilion
Client: WKO Austria
Design: Team.Breathe.Austria
Fabrication: Adunic AG
photos: Terrain:Architects and Landscape Architects
Literally offering a breath of fresh air, the Austria Pavilion is actually a lush outdoor forest, giving visitors the opportunity to meander through and enjoy 12 Austrian ecotypes, from ground-level mosses to towering trees soaring 40 feet into the sky. As visitors stroll on a meandering path through the misty woodland, dimensional letters ahead of them spell out the word "Breathe," which, as guests move further inside, eventually becomes "Eat." That subtle word play underscores the notion that "Air is food," tethering the rather abstract idea of clean, breathable air to the Expo 2015 theme of "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life." With the help of thermodynamic misting nozzles, which accelerate evaporation rates and oxygen production, the luxuriant vegetation inside the pavilion produces its own microclimate, generating nearly 137 pounds of pure oxygen every hour, or enough to sustain 1,800 people. As cool as a hike in the legendary Austrian Alps, the pavilion is also genuinely cooling: With no air-conditioning technology at all, the Brigadoon-like forest pavilion is always 9 degrees cooler than the exterior temperature under the often-sweltering Milan sun.
United Arab Emirates Pavilion
United Arab Emirates Pavilion
Client: The National Media Council, United Arab Emirates
Design: Foster + Partners
Fabrication: CanBuild Ltd.; Stahlbau Pichler srl; Tecton scrl
photos: Nigel Young; Foster + Partners
Based on a massive scan of sand dunes that captured the belly-dancer curves of silicate grains at the mercy of the desert's howling winds, the United Arab Emirates' Pavilion stretches nearly the length of a football field. Its 39-foot-high walls of simulated sand, made of Fiberglas and reinforced concrete braced by a steel frame, shelter guests who make their way on a slight uphill slope past interactive installations on climate change and water scarcity. Nearly 300 feet later, the path winds up toward an auditorium contained within a golden drum whose 49-foot-height makes it seem more like an oversized magic lamp out of "1,001 Nights" than an Expo 2015 pavilion. Inside the cylindrical theater, attendees witness even more magic: an illusion based on a 19th British trick called Pepper's ghost, where a virtual girl leads the audience in a hip-hop song urging them to help her secure a future free from hunger and thirst.
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