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Austria Pavilion, Zaragoza, Spain

Friday 08 Aug 2008

Snow place for a pavilion

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Austria make Spain their home bringing their pavilion to the heart of Expo Zaragoza 2008 

Austria’s Pavilion at Expo Zaragoza 2008 is charming its guests with a truly multimedia journey through the world of water in faithful keeping with the theme of the world’s fair: “Water and Sustainable Development”.

The 512 sq m pavilion named Pura Austria was developed by Strauss-Solid-Ritter and offers an innovative and comprehensive solution that features the interplay of architecture and art. The pavilion's exterior, for example, displays a huge landscape of ice and snow photographed by the internationally known artist Walter Niedermayr.

The architect Michael Strauss describes the Austria Pavilion’s architectural concept as follows: “It’s quite a balancing act to design an Expo building that represents all of Austria. We therefore left room for ideas, and for performances. At the core, the design is almost purist, with a built-in flexibility for the useable surfaces.”

An opening between the movable slats surrounding the pavilion’s exterior serves as the visitor entrance; once inside the building, a hollowed path dotted with 81 monitors featuring videos and photographs leads to the main Arena. Here the semi-circular complex provided for the Austria Pavilion is “doubled” into a cylindrical shape using a ceiling-high mirror on the longitudinal side. With the mirror, a 180° projection on the interior wall will appear as a 360° panorama view, reminiscing of a 19th-century theatre-in-the-round also known as “cyclorama”. The pavilion’s large mirror lets visitors become an interactive part of the panorama by optically enlarging the various projections and space dimensions. All movement within the abstracted landscape is reflected, thereby creating the impression of independent action.

The central oversized snowball, which audiences may walk through, is the main object of the installation and is surrounded by animated panorama projections. The coveted Austrian winter souvenir, set amidst expansive, abstract landscapes, transforms into a “living space” for human beings and the site for periodic installations, dance performances, multimedia images.

In the Austria Pavilion Lounge furnishings have been provided by Austrian furniture manufacturers such as Bene, Wittmann, Copa, Svoboda and Neue Wiener Werkstaette. The pavilion also offers The Water Bar that is both a controversial art installation by Lucy and Jorge Ortas and a refreshments bar.

On the 8th of September the "Palacio de Congressos" will host "LIQUID SKY - Horizons of Architecture and Design in the 21st Century", an Austro-Spanish architecture symposium.

So far more that 200.000 visitors have flocked into the Austrian Pavilion to experience Austria in its wrap-around sensuous landscapes: the Zaragoza World Expo remains open until the 14th of September.

SOLID architecture

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Michael Strauss Architekt

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