Expo Zaragoza 2008: The Spanish Pavilion as Sustainable Architecture

This past weekend marked the closure of three-month-long Expo Zaragoza 2008. Petz told us about the The Thirst Pavilion, the German Pavilion and the eco-friendly urinals that use no water, chemicals or energy. I was lucky enough to have a long weekend and took in some of the sights while also visiting friends in Zaragoza (Saragossa in English). I must admit that another reason for going was seeing a product I am involved with called the Econo; it was one of the official products of the Expo.

It’s really an utter shame that more international publicity was not distributed for this 93-day long event, as there were some amazing things to see. One of the most intriguing buildings in the 25 hectare mini-city was the Pavilion by the Government of Spain. The building was designed by the Navarra architect Francisco Mangado, who was assisted by bioclimatic design specialists from Spain’s National Renewable Energies Centre (Cener). Mangado says the building imitates a forest, and describes it as, “a natural space that is both so simple and so complex, in which the light penetrates the treetops, and the sound of water transports us to an experience which today, because of environmental deterioration and urban lifestyles, is almost a luxury’. Images after the jump.
The forest shading effect that the columns create. Image credit: Francisco Mangado.

This example of ecological and sustainable architecture was really an outstanding piece amongst the many pavilions and buildings built specifically for the Expo. So outstanding that there were rumours of 4-5 hour-long waits to get inside. The exterior columns, which look almost like reeds or bamboo shoots, are made of terra cotta (clay) with a metallic core that when in contact with water create air currents and a microclimate that has a cooling effect on the building. This is an important design feature when you’re facing 40ºC heat. The roof is also equipped with solar heat and rainwater collectors.


Clay columns with metallic core in contact with water. Image credit: Francisco Mangado.

You may ask what will happen to this building now. At the closing ceremonies the Spain's President (although commonly referred to as Prime Minister), José Luis Zapatero, announced that the building will become a centre for climate change research. The most of the Expo buildings (minus the temporary structures) will be made into a business park, so although the universal fair is officially closed you will still be able to see the buildings.


Outside view of the Spanish Pavilion. Image credit: Francisco Mangado

You can read more and see more photographs of Mangado's Spanish Pavilion on his Website under the Completed Works section.

All image credits to Francisco Mangado.

More TH Coverage of Expo Zaragoza:
German Pavilion Tells a Water Cycle Fairtytale at Expo Zaragoza
The Thirst Pavilion: Using Innovative Architecture and Solutions to Combat Global Water Issues
Eco-friendly Urinals at Expo Zaragoza Use No Water, No Chemicals, No Energy
Expo Zaragoza 2008: The Biggest Water Festival Opened its Doors in Spain
Digital Water

Tags: Architecture | Buildings | Designers | Green Building | Spain