Expo 2000, Dutch Garden

Expo 2000 Hannover

The stacked landscapes of the Dutch pavilion by mvrdv were a statement about working with space scarcity in the densely populated Netherlands. The pavilion itself was extremely compact – so compact, indeed, that 8,000 m² of empty space was left empty around it. To find a suitable design for the space, the party commissioning the Dutch contribution, the Stichting Nederland Wereldtentoonstellingen (Dutch world-exhibitions foundation) held a private competition, in which Bureau B+B emerged as the winner. The firm’s design for the Dutch Garden was a direct response to the pavilion itself. The designers conceptually viewed the space as an untouched site awaiting development: a breath of fresh air in a country where every square meter has been assigned a use. Unused terrain served as the base for the design, with visitors having to find their way through a carpet of various flowers. In order to set the ‘natural’ process in motion, a starting situation was created with a detailed planting plan, through which the garden gradually evolved over the course of the exhibition. Dynamic influences, such as weather, plant growth and the spontaneous movements of visitors contributed to the garden’s changing appearance. There was no set end result.

This apparent randomness was planned to an extremely high degree; it was exceptionally high-tech and typically Dutch. The substrate consisted of different layers of red mine-stone and black sediment. Planting squares were indicated with four different plant densities. At spots where visitors frequently walked, the small black slit in the coarser red mine stone disappeared, and plant densities decreased. Elsewhere, the flora became thicker with 20 different species of plant that had a rainbow of colors and staggered flowering times. An extensive network of pipes created for drip irrigation ensured that the process that would normally take five years would attain completion within year. Platforms, partitions and other elements made of non-living material, which can indicate a specific use, were deliberately avoided. Nevertheless, one compromise was unavoidable: in order to somewhat streamline the expected millions of visitors, a winding route towards the entrance was designed. Through – preplanned – chance and randomness, the garden transformed from day to day, providing a continuously changing context for the Dutch pavilion.

  • Location: Nordallee, 30521 Hannover, Duitsland
  • Constructed: 2000
  • Client: Dutch world-exhibitions foundation
  • Area: 8000 m2