EXPO 2000

“Holland creates Space”: the theme for the Netherlands Pavilion at the 2000 World Expo in Hanover was to showcase a country making the most out of limited space. Six stacked Dutch landscapes form an independent eco-system communicating cultural sustainability: progressive thinking and contemporary culture are combined with traditional values. The architecture suggests Dutch open-mindedness while confirming the positive stereotypes of tulips, windmills and dykes.


Location: Hannover, Germany

Year: 1997-2000

Client: Foundation Holland World Fairs, The Hague NL

Program: 8,000 m² exhibition pavilion

Budget: EURO 10.8 Million



Belmont Prize by the Forberg Schneider Stiftung 

Nomination for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award

Nomination for the World Architecture Awards as one of the five best buildings in the Northern area



The Netherlands is a densely populated country combining high standards of living with a great democratic tradition. It could well be the prime example of a country that has always had to (and knows how to) mould the natural environment to suit its needs. It is a country that time and time again has won more land from the sea. Perhaps in the near future extra space will be found not just by increasing the country's width but by expanding vertically. This kind of operation would seem to be applicable to many more countries. It raises questions of global significance.


Can increasing population densities coexist with an increase in the quality of life? What conditions should be satisfied before such increases in density take place? What role will nature, in the widest sense, play in such an increase in density? Is not the issue here new nature, literally and metaphorically? This kind of effort can be the Netherlands' specific contribution to the ecological spectrum of the World Fair in Hannover 2000, which seems to be devoted particularly to a nostalgic glimpse of ecology: a simple critique of technology and the consumer society, of asphalt and machinery. What the Dutch entry shows is precisely a mix of technology and nature, emphasizing nature'’s make-ability and artificiality: technology and nature need not be mutually exclusive, they can perfectly well reinforce one another.


Nature arranged on many levels provides both an extension to existing nature and an outstanding symbol of its artificiality. It provides multi-level public space as an extension to existing public spaces. And even by arranging existing programs on many levels it provides yet more extra space, at ground level, for visibility and accessibility, for the unexpected, for nature. Dividing up the space in the Dutch entry and arranging it on multiple levels surrounds the building with spatial events and other cultural manifestations. The building becomes a monumental multi-level park. It takes on the character of a happening.


The fact that this kind of building does not yet exist means that it also gets to function as a laboratory. It not only saves space, it also saves energy, time, water and infrastructure. A mini-ecosystem is created. Its a survival kit. Of course, it also tests existing qualities: it attempts to find a solution for a lack of light and land. At the same time, the density and the diversity of functions build new connections and new relationships. It can, therefore, serve as a symbol for the multi-faceted nature of society: it presents the paradoxical notion that as diversity increases, so too might cohesion.

Beautiful Ruin

After 2000 Hannover World Expo fair the Dutch pavilion was not reused. Fences were erected around the building. Lifts, trees and windmills were dismantled. Thousands of birds started to inhabit the vacant structure. Party-seekers started to use the forest. It became a real park so to speak. It became a ruin in the best romantic German tradition. As in Heine's poems or in Goethe's memories, a new ruin was born! We could already imagine a structure overgrown with ivy...


Finally since June 2015 there is a viable plan that secures the future of the Dutch pavilion and adds new life and activities to the site: Real estate developer Die Wohnkompanie Nord, in collaboration with the City of Hannover, has announced plans to revitalize the Pavilion. The new project will connect the pavilion to adjacent university facilities (including lecture rooms and 380 micro- residential units for students and academic staff) on multiple levels to create a dense and unique campus atmosphere.

The City of Hannover supports the project and has approved the required adjustments to the zoning plan; contracts between involved parties are being finalized. This project will be a major step towards making Hannover a destination for learning and living.

The pavilion has a future. 


Design: MVRDVWiny Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries
Competition phase: Philipp Oswalt, Joost Grootens, Christelle Gualdi, Eline Strijkers, Martin Young

Design phase: Stefan Witteman, Jaap van Dijk, Christoph Schindler, Kristina Adsersen, Rüdiger Kreiselmayer



Structure: ABT, Velp NL

Services: Technical Management, Amersfoort NL

Building physics: DGMR, Arnhem and GRBV, Hannover DE

Facilitary Office: ABT-Bouwkunde, Rotterdam NL

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