breathe.austria - austrian pavilion expo milan 2015

The creation of natural air-cooling, air-cleaning and oxygen producing architectures can successfully counteract the recent environmental tendencies. Climate itself thus becomes an effective design approach for future urban architectures - our vision is to design buildings and cities that are climate-positive, rather than heat-islands, stuck on the level zero emission.

breathe.austria front main green forest interior

the purpose
the future of bioclimatic design

Imagine one possible future:
It is plant-based, socially fair, ecologically sound and bioclimatic. This is about living and connecting to fellow humans and to our alive environment — to rethink given standards in design, material use, energy usage for the built environment. How can we think it all together?
The Austrian pavilion in Milan is a showcase project that approaches these high goals as a proposal for an alternative building future, that inventively integrates architectural spacemaking with the bioclimatic “performance” of the plant world.

breathe.austria pavilion interior kid natural performance atmosphere

the idea
plant performance and biometeorological design

The Austrian contribution to the world exhibition in Milan, places atmosphere and air at the centre of global attention – as a design, performative and ecological resource. The pavilion becomes a ‘proof of concept’, for a conception in which our human sensory and biological abilities and needs are performatively intertwined with the biometeorological vitality and ecology of the pavilion.
As a world-premiere, “climatic and atmospheric plant performance” will be applied on a large scale as a bioclimatic ventilation and cooling concept. This involves replacing extensive building services equipment with plant communities and their meteorologic performance. It is a first example of future bioclimatic architecture through biosystemic innovation.

breathe.austria concept plant performance
breathe.austria pavilion facade section plant species
breathe.austria perspective section concept diagram plant performance
breathe.austria concept section plant performance

the working
bio-climatic system

The Austrian Pavilion creates a place which connects the seemingly incompatible; technology with natural biodiversity. An augmented technological-natural system in the pavilion synergetically imitates the biometeorological conditions of a large wooded area. In implementing and microclimatically augmenting the 560m2 pavilion forest patch, the vegetation is contributing to the global oxygen production through a leaf surface area of about 43.200m2 – generating 62.5kg of oxygen per/h, to meet the demand for 1,303 visitors per/h.
The achieved bioclimatic result surpassed all expectations. It differs significantly from the entcountered air and climate in Milan and becomes perceptable with its enhanced cooling effect of up to 12° C. This microclimatic performance is technically augmented by evaporative cooling – entirely free of
mechanical air conditioning. In this way, a sensual Austrian forest atmosphere is recreated, with comparativly natural measures, based on the cooling effect of evapotranspiration of plants and the forest soil.

breathe.austria interior pavilion night lights vegetation
breathe.austria atmosphere vegetation technology air is food
breathe.austria concept augmented plant performance evapotranspiration

a discovering
natural performance and integral technology

The forest, consisting of twelve Austrian forest ecotypes, forms a unique atmospheric experience. The biodiversity of plants with more than 190 different species, creates an intense interplay of light, air and fresh scents and intense sensual experience for visitors. From the opening of the Milan Expo in early May onwards, the visitors to the Austrian Pavilion can immerse themselves in the fresh atmosphere and experience the performance of the forest with all their senses. More than 12,800 perennials, grasses and forest trees have been installed over three months in a highly complex engineered landscape. The first white spring ambassadors come out from under the leaves and the dandelions spread their seed. The smell of fresh moss and spruce floats in the air and the microbial metabolism of the forest begins. Breathe in!

breathe.austria visitors vegetation light people

economy of ecology
energy independent , climate positive and biodiverse

An important aspect of the pavilion is its energy neutrality – meaning that the pavilion generates as much energy as it consumes. The electrical energy needed to power the building infrastructure (water pumps, kitchen, office, lighting, etc.) is supplied by a photovoltaic system (PV) on the roof and a solar sculpture with ‘Grätzel-cells’ (dye solar cells) – an innovative technology that can be seen for the first time in this form. The excess energy is fed into the Italian power grid. Through its climate and oxygen production the pavilion becomes even climate positive – in reducing airconditioning though a performative techno-natual system that even promotes forest biodiversity.

breathe.austria solar panels cells energy neutral sculpture
breathe.austria hospitality solar scupture atmosphere

closing thought
prototype for future urban practices

The implementation of „naturally performative components“ into the urban fabric, the creation of augmented bioclimatic air-cooling, cleaning and oxygen producing architectures, can effectively counteract these recent environmental tendencies.
Bioclimate itself thus becomes an effective design tool for future urban practices. In integrating “natural performance” into architectural typologies - our approach is to design buildings that are generating oxygen, cities that act climate-positive rather become heat islands and than stuck on the level zero emission.

Within this context, the prototype of breathe.austria proves how landscape and the environment, perceived as the seemingly passive background to that tendency, are elevated to the status of a protagonist.
The breathe pavilion demonstrates – that hybrid systems of nature and technology simultaneously can be economically, environmentally and ecologically successful. It connects the seemingly incompatible - technology and natural diversity - becoming ‘climate active’ as it is a source of fresh healthy air and cool climate.



Austria‘s Expo Commissioner and former Vice-Chancellor Josef Pröll:

„The pavilion offers Expo visitors an oasis of calm that is unique on the Expo site. So many visitors are coming like we never expected. We are most satisfied with this cheerful response.“
„The Austria Pavilion was awarded gold by an international jury as the most impressive and best EXPO contribution in the design concept category.“

UNESCO City of Design Award - Grand Award / IDEA TOPS International Space Design Award — Main Award / Sustainable Architecture EXPO Milano 2015 - Gold Award Exhibition Design Pavilion / AIT Award 1st prize / 2015 SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER AWARD – EXPO 2015 / Towards a Sustainable Expo AWARD - Italian Environmental Agency - Leader in the category Design & Materials /
2015 BIE AWARD Gold - Bureau International des Expositions

it takes a village

YEAR:  2014 – 15
SITE:  Milan, Italy
CLIENT: EXPO 2015 Austria
Austrian Pavilion EXPO Milan 2015
DESIGN: team.breathe.austria


terrain: integral designs BDA Munich / Graz
Klaus K. Loenhart

In cooperation with

Agency in Biosphere
Markus Jeschaunig

Hohensinn Architektur ZT GmbH
Karlheinz Boiger

LANDLAB, i_a&l, TU-Graz
Andreas Goritschnig und Bernhard König

Lendlabor Graz
Anna Resch und Lisa Enzenhofer

Engelsmann Peters Ingenieure
Stefan Peters

Wolfgang Kessling, Martin Engelhardt

Bernhard Scharf

Anna Dezlhofer und Sabine Dessovic

Dontstop Architettura
Michele Brunello

Sam Auinger

Alexander Kellas


Daniele Madia / Simon Oberhofer / Marc Lins / terrain: integral designs


> get in touch for more information   here