Experienced architects are always an inspiration to architecture students and a mode of awareness of the importance of architecture in people’s life. Unconventional structures always make an impact on people. One of those structures is the Vanke Pavilion, designed by Daniel Libeskind. This Polish- American architect introduces complex ideas and emotions in his designs. His philosophy is that buildings are crafted with palpable human energy and address the construction of greater cultural context. 

The Idea

This corporate pavilion was made at the Milan Expo 2015, and the theme of the expo was ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for life. So, the main design philosophy is related to food. Since food is a medium to know more about a culture, the design incorporates three ideas drawn from Chinese culture. These include the shi- tang, a traditional Chinese dining hall; the landscape, the fundamental element to life; and the dragon, which is metaphorically related to farming and sustenance. Every single design so that it corresponds with the concept.

The Vanke Pavilion by Daniel Libeskind - Sheet1
The twisted structure of the pavilion_©Hufton Crow

The Design

The process transition from a concept to design is an exhausting one. So, starting from the outer part, it is twisted, representing a dragon’s streamlined, scaled body. The outer shell is made of red metalized tiles for a different dragon representation. These tiles create a rhythm through these series of tiles. The serpentine-like structure entrance is through spiraling stairs that correspond with the outer form. The tiles filter the air inside the pavilion; it is self-cleaning. So even sustainability has been kept in mind. The structure creates a sense of chaos and order at the same time. The staircase then leads to a rooftop deck. The transition from an open to a semi-open space and then an open space is smooth. The lake near the pavilion acts as an extension to the immediate context. The rooftop deck creates an interactive space on the top of the building. The plants and sitting space at the rooftop elevate the peaceful nature of the space.

The Vanke Pavilion by Daniel Libeskind - Sheet2
Different colors of the tiles_©Hufton Crow

Light plays a vital role in bringing any structure to life. It changes the perception of a space. Due to light, the red tiles covered with metallic coloration have different colors at different viewpoints. People can see deep crimson, dazzling gold, and brilliant white colors at specific points. The tiles installed with a state- of- art- cladding give a mathematical form to the otherwise twisted structure.

The Vanke Pavilion by Daniel Libeskind - Sheet3
Interior of the Pavilion_©Hufton+Crow

On entering the pavilion, there is an arrangement of 200 screens hung on a matrix of bamboo scaffolding. It is a ten-minute narrative experience for visitors moving across the space. One of the main reasons for using bamboo is its importance in Chinese culture. In traditional Chinese culture, bamboo is a symbol of Oriental beauty. It represents the character of moral integrity, resistance, modesty, and loyalty. It also stands as an example of loneliness and elegance, among others. These characteristics correspond with the structure of the pavilion—the quality of space changes from one point to another. The spaces become wide, narrow, compact, loose with every step taken.

The Interpretation

Here, architecture is used as an exceptional medium to portray the importance of food in Chinese culture. With the change in time, the number of people following the traditions degrades. So, the Vanke Pavilions show urbanization and community through food experience. It is challenging to create a visual representation of a subjective matter, but the Vanke Pavilion has used maximum elements to showcase Chinese culture. 

The Vanke Pavilion by Daniel Libeskind - Sheet4
The transition of spaces_©Hufton+Crow

The expo pushed the limits of an architect to illustrate a shape into a concept or a concept into an architectural pathway. The interpretations could be categorized into formal, conceptual, and different typologies. It showed how food thematic pavilions find an architectural form to express a variation of sub-themes proposed by each participant. The pavilions are one of the best examples of the mixture of food and architecture to prove that both are interrelated. The architectural statements and expressions started to change the perception and drive an inclination towards gardening shaping instead of a technological media architecture, refunding the start from the scratch basis of writing new possible environments friendly for living. Even the other pavilions represented the idea of traditional food in different ways. For example, the Italian Pavilion has a spaghetti facade that creates an extra level of transparency, and the France Pavilion was a piece of cheese illustrated by a wooden structure. The UK pavilion succeeds in leading to a sculptural object via a conceptual landscape.

The Vanke Pavilion by Daniel Libeskind - Sheet5
Italian Pavilion_©Nemesi

Trying to express a cultural landscape and storyteller architecture, the Vanke Pavilion could be a land of dreams for the searchers of new motivations in architecture. Still, considering it as the provenance of the shape could be too pronounced or too daring as proposed exercise. Giving birth to architecture as a contemporary character is still a venture for most cultures. The description of traditional setups needs a star architect to fill up the envelope when developed in architecture shape.

Pure example of cultural architecture_©Hufton+Crow


  2. Frearson, Amy. (2015, May 2). Daniel Libeskind unveils his “handcrafted dragon” at the Milan Expo . Dezeen, [online] Page/s. Retrieved from: https://www.dezeen.com/2015/05/02/daniel-libeskind-handcrafted-dragon-pavilion-vanke-milan-expo-  015/#:~:text=The%20Vanke%20Pavilion%2C%20for%20China’s,as%20a%20%22handcrafted%20dragon%22.
  3. Rago, Daniel (2015, May 26). Detail: The Tiles of Studio Libeskind’s Vanke Pavilion. Architect magazine, [online] Page/s. Retrieved from: https://www.architectmagazine.com/technology/architectural-detail/detail-the-tiles-of-studio-libeskinds-vanke-pavilion_o

Goral is inquisitive in nature because she thinks that the only way to reach to know the secret of the world, is by asking questions. Since she is a keen observer, noting down her observations has led her into the world of creative writing.