DIT – UK Pavilion at Beijing Horticultural Expo 2019
Client: Department for International Trade (UK Gov)
Event Name: Beijing Horticultural Expo 2019
Agency Website: www.m-is.com
Department for International Trade briefed M to design, build and deliver a single story contemporary pavilion of up to 400 sq metres and a garden of up to 2,000 square metre UK pavilion at the Beijing Horticultural Expo 2019.
The Expo was a flagship event to mark the celebration of the People’s Republic of China 70th Anniversary. China is the UK’s 5th largest trading partner and the Expo was a major opportunity to expand that relationship and boost UK exports.
The brief was to deliver a garden and a pavilion, demonstrating the very best of UK creativity and innovation in garden design, plant science and the preservation of the natural environment, and an events programme to promote British expertise and build new partnerships notable in the ornamental horticulture, agri-food, agri-tech and tourism sectors. The final design should draw on the themes of ‘Live Green, Live better’, Defra’s 25 year Environment Plan and the UK Agriculture Policy.
The garden and pavilion was expected to offer an innovative, engaging experience for all age groups with tactile and interactive educational and awareness features addressing initiatives such as climate adaptation, sustainability, botany and environmental enhancement.
The final build would be an example of contemporary sustainable, low carbon/energy building and garden design, incorporating features to illustrate green roofs and food planting areas (by way of example)
Opportunities to build diplomatic and trade relationships beyond the agri-food and agri-tech sectors must be captured in the themes, design and experience of the UK Expo Site.
The UK Garden and Pavilion celebrated the theme “Innovating for a Greener Future” and spanned health, personal and urban spaces, bio-diversity, UK heritage and art.
Visitors learnt how herbs and flowers can be used in food and drink and how urban spaces can be transformed into areas of cultivation and play, bringing the natural world into the city and inspiring people to live more sustainable lives at home and to reuse, refresh or recycle their products.
A meadow showcased the importance of animal pollinators, particularly the honey bee, while bringing to the fore the challenges our meadows face in the UK.
M selected the internationally renowned Briony Doubleday from Bee’s Gardens, to support the garden design while M created a pavilion that was at the heart of UK participation in a six-month long programme of activities at the Expo. The pavilion, which was a 2,000-square-metre space that included woodland, a wildflower meadow and biodiversity garden has already proved to be a compelling attraction.
Also featured were installations by sculptor Rob Mulholland. They used a variety of different materials and forms to show the delicate relationship between humans and the natural world.
Other instantly recognisable partners included the Royal Horticultural Society, Kew Gardens and the Eden Project as well as numerous organisations representing Agri-tech, horticulture, education, green finance, clean energy, digital health, ‘new’ transport and sustainable construction/architecture projects.
The semi permanent structure included meeting spaces and hospitality spaces to accommodate tourists, business meetings and formal delegations.
The biggest visual draw was union jack flag ‘green living wall’. Visitors were then taken through a well planned journey to learn about how
hydroponic technology is used to grow plants without soil.
A water garden was fed by water collected in barrels and gutters throughout the site to avoid unnecessary water use. Children thoroughly enjoyed playing in the water garden but also learnt about the necessity for efficient use.
The UK based charity, Groundwork delivered a shed made of recycled/reusable material and taught visitors how natural and recycled materials are used to create structures, encourage plants to grow, make homes for insects and reintroduce people to growing their own food.
A wild wood was planted with trees, ferns, foliage and flowering plans providing shade and rest spaces. While an area dedicated to botanicals informed visitors about the wide range of uses botanicals have from natural remedies to food and drink flavourings. A biodiversity meadow saw wildflowers planted to attract wildlife including birds, bees and butterflies. Visitors learnt how the plants were critical to the bio-diverse world of British meadows. A Sensory Garden provided surprise and delight for all the visitor senses using sound, contrasting forms and texture, colour and movement.
An events programme promoted British expertise which utilised the meeting spaces inside the structure itself. Hospitality was contracted through the use of best in class British Caterers, a Gin and Tonic Garden and delivery of British High Teas (to name but a few).
Over 162 days, under an extremely tight budget, the pavilion welcomed 1.1 million visitors (1.1 million photos of the Union Jack flag green wall); organised 28 business and consumer events in agri-tech, sports, green finance, green technology, children embracing nature, education and food and drinks. Total global media coverage reached an audience of 1.6 billion – more than the entire population of China.
The UK Pavilion scooped the top awards from a choice of over 100 participating countries – the Grand award for international participants and the Gold prize for the best garden.