With temporary exhibitions, it can be a delicate balance between visually expressing a nation’s culture and creating an economical structure. Designers often turn to lightweight, durable fabrics to give full range to their ideas. A case in point is the Estonia Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World’s Fair, designed by Allianss Arhitektid, Tallinn, Estonia, that wraps the building with colorful patterns and designs inspired by traditional women’s costumes from different parishes throughout the country.
The design for the enclosure is surprisingly simple: irregularly shaped vertical panels formed from steel channels are fitted against a plain box of a building to make a façade somewhat like overlapping vertical siding. Bends in the vertical edges and bulges outward from the façade add 3-D interest. Color and pattern are printed by dye sublimation on the PVC-coated polyester Soltis® 86 mesh fabric (Serge Ferrari), stretched taut over the frames and fastened simply with flathead screws. The mesh provides micro-ventilation and allows outward visibility to visitors inside.
“We had 12 printed samples made and from these we chose the correct colors—bright, shiny, sunny—to have put into production for the pavilion. We stylized the printed designs a little,” says Priit Hamer, member of the Estonian Expo design team Hamer, “and added a little extra with national patterns.” The resultant venue projects a strong identity, incorporating visual impact with internal comfort.