Utilising natural resources necessary for sustainable design, says Swedish Pavilion architect

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden:

The lead architect behind the Swedish Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai has said that the utilisation of a country’s natural resources, via climate-conscious and sustainable means, is vital in design and creation.

Alessandro Ripellino of Alessandro Ripellino Arkitekter, one of the three companies involved in the design of the Swedish Pavilion, said that the structure, ‘The Forest’, which is currently being built in Dubai, is a “zero-energy pavilion.”

“I think to build with wood is one of the ways we can get to work with respect to climate change. To go all the way in this direction … gives a feeling that something [is being done] for the planet. This is the Swedish way,” he affirmed in an exclusive interview with the Emirates News Agency, on the sidelines of Stockholm Design Week, which closes today.

Covering a total area of 2,380 square metres, the building structure of the pavilion – which spans 340 square metres – is made entirely of wood.

The lead architect said that, together with the Swedish government, the manifest was decided to create an “unusual building” where no concrete, aluminium or iron is used, except for the screws holding the building elements together.

He also added that apart from fire retardant treatments for the wood, no other chemicals would be used in the construction of the building.

When asked what was the inspiration behind the Swedish Pavilion’s design, Ripellino answered, “The aim from the start was to make an overall impact.”

“So for me,” he continued, “it was very easy to go back to my first impression of Sweden.”

First arriving in Sweden in the 1980s, the Italian native said he was taken aback by the vastness of the country.

He noted that he had a “very strong impression,” adding, “Sweden is quite a different country if you compare it to other countries in Europe because approximately two-thirds of the land is covered by forest.”

And so, Alessandro Ripellino Arkitekter, together with Studio Adrien Gardère and Luigi Pardo Architetti, the winning proposal for Sweden’s Expo 2020 pavilion was developed with the theme ‘Co-creation for Innovation’.

According to the design manifest, the design theme describes the Swedish identity, with its collaborative culture and traditions. It represents an exceptional symbol of co-creation based on mutual assistance, support and respect, with a touch of metaphorical magic.

“The Swedes live with the forest, and in their minds, the forest is very important,” Ripellino explained.

He further highlighted the importance of the forest in Swedish culture, noting, that it is a production source for many industries within the country.

“For instance, the start of the Swedish steel industry was only possible because of the forest, which supplied the necessary materials for the industry to function,” he said.

In the last few years, he added, there is an increased focus on climate impact when work is carried out on new projects, which “needs a new way of thinking today, to find the right way.”

“A balance between economy, CO2 [emissions] and materials,” with the lowest climate impact possible is the overarching goal behind Swedish architectural design, Ripellino continued.

“Co-creation is very important for the future, not only for Sweden but for all countries,” he added.

In business terms, co-creation is about the joint creation of value by companies and their customers.

In architecture and design, it goes beyond that scope, involving a full circle approach, where not only architects, designers, and clients are the creators and innovators, but societal and environmental impacts are also considered within the design process.

Ripellino explained, “When we start a new project, we start analysing the history of the place, the flow of people into the place and how this inspires the design of the building.”

When asked to comment on any challenges faced during the design and the ongoing construction phase, he said the short time frame of one year – from winning the design competition to shipping the prefabricated elements – was the main challenge.

“To do this all within one year is a very short time, but now a part of the construction is already shipped, and building on the site has started,” he said.

Ripellino will be visiting Dubai during Expo 2020, which commences in October.

“I like, very much, what I have seen from Dubai, and [look forward to] what I will see. I think it’s a great [opportunity] for everyone to come to Dubai, to see this Expo, which may be the greatest and [most] interesting event in the world for some years to come,” he concluded.


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