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Paradox-ity: City of Contrast

The Singapore Pavilion at Expo 2012 Yeosu, Korea takes the international visitor on a highly immersive audio-visual treat.

Paradox-ity: City of Contrast


July 26th, 2012

“The Living Ocean and Coast” is the theme for this year’s International Exposition held in Yeosu, Korea and to Zarch Collaboratives, the creative team behind the Singapore Pavilion, it is more than a specified theme to work on. Explaining how the sea has been central to Singapore’s national development, design leader Randy Chan shares in a media statement: “Without our deep natural harbour and geographically advantageous port providing the marrow to our economic backbone, the country would not be what it is today… The sea breathed life into our small fishing village, transforming us from a mangrove into a metropolis.”

Singapore Pavilion

The Pavilion is therefore conceptualised as a spatial narrative, an audio-visual journey that tells the story of how Singapore grew from a humble fishing village to a successful nation and urban model. The 712sqm pavilion pans out the city-state’s story in four galleries:

Singapore Pavilion

Gallery 1, City of Contrast, gives the international visitor a contextual introduction to Singapore through pop-out wall features and 3-D videos offering glimpses of the Singaporean landscape. In the immersive walk-through, many of Singapore’s paradoxical elements – opposite concepts of garden and the city, plants and waste, man-made and natural environment – that make city unique are highlighted. That Singapore started out as a nation with limited resources, but developed itself into a sustainable garden home through creativity and hard work is also a key narrative point in this introduction.

Singapore Pavilion

Gallery 2, Beautiful Re-collection, brings the visitor deeper into Singapore’s environment – not least by looking at its environmental solutions. Through showcasing the waste management systems of the country (including secrets of its offshore landfill), it shakes up the common and long-held perspective of trash by showing how rubbish can be a powerful resource for an entire city. The second part of the gallery is yet another sensorial treat – an underwater world complete with mangrove roots, dancing fishes and periscopes suspended from above head that lets the visitor peek into the rich biodiversity the tropical island supports.

Singapore Pavilion

Gallery 3, Small City, Big Dreams, brings the visitor back on shore to a garden setting. The visitor learns how green gardens and blue waters are a daily inspiration to the way Singaporeans live, work and play. Here, through a gleaming montage of content monitors, ‘green globes’ and an interactive green wall, the story of Singapore’s Green Initiative (including a feature on Gardens By the Bay) unfolds. A model of the Super Tree, the iconic feature of the recently opened Gardens by the Bay, stands proudly on display here.

Singapore Pavilion

The finale of the gallery takes the visitor through a simulated tropical rainstorm, and ends with a fun interactive activity: in a ritual of rainwater collection, the visitor harvests water with the traditional Korean paper, Hanji. The specially treated Hanji, will upon contact with water, show up an explosion of colours. This activity intends to convey the message that “our resources may be limited, but our creativity and ingenuity to solve our challenges need not be”. The visitor can hang the dyed paper on a wishing wall to pledge a commitment to the environment.


Singapore Pavilion

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