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Historically the tree has provided humans with key resources - namely, food and shelter. However, in a world  with overpopulation and increasing food shortages, knowledge and access to information have become fundamental to our survival. Our proposal for the Information Pavilion imagines how we can accommodate this paradigm shift towards communication technology as a basic necessity.

By revisiting the fundamental nature of our interaction with the tree as a means to an end - a somewhat abusive relationship tragically evident in Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree - we discover that there is still a resource that we have failed to extract - wisdom.  The wisdom of the tree is intrinsic to its nature. The tree is a resourceful system of elements, whose interconnectivity fosters a sustainable coalescence with the immediate and global ecosystem.  Aptly named,  The Baobab, the proposed pavilion seeks to empower the user to begin that vital sustainable dialogue towards coalescence with nature, through its architecture and program.

The Baobab employs the architectonic elements of the tree to accommodate the requirements of an information Pavillion. Its circulation and programmatic distribution emulate the principles that govern the operation of the tree, while its structure emulates the stratification of the elements that comprise the tree. At the base are the exposed roots of the building, its columns. The angled, trunk-like columns sit within a basin of red fertile earth, inviting visitors below to collect, reflect, rest and recharge. The displaced earth excavated from the basin can be used to construct the rammed earth walls that surround it. At Grade, the trunk is floating in a plaza of trees, functioning as a universal hub and access point. The 13 by 30 metre structure clad in mirror-glass and structural cor-ten mullions reflect and compliment the adjacent flora. On approach, the pavilion is unobtrusive and stealthy, its secret revealed only by its translucent E-paper billboard visible down boulevard Cardo. The ground floor houses the reception desk, souvenir gift wall, toilets and spaces to encourage impromptu lectures and exercises in sustainability - a flexible spatial arrangement reminiscent of the formal language of the plant cell.

The top floor is the Canopy, the business centre and look out perch with views of the open air theatre, bridge and surrounding expositions. Adorned by a wooden continuous community table, floor and ceiling treatment reminiscent of an oasis and the latest in communication technologies, this area fosters a cozy refuge for the research and exchange of information and ideas, immediate and global. The roof is the crowning jewel of the project: A biofiltration membrane retrofitted with solar panels that serve to provide a cleaner environment and generate energy for the entire pavilion.

Despite human achievement in the realm of information technology, we are still struggling to comprehend the wisdom of our primary, natural relationship to the environment.  In response to this reality, the Baobab is an exercise in building as nature.




Milan, Italy






225 sqm


studiovol & Studio Alibai

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