All posts by Giulio

DISCOVERY CENTRE – Canada’s Most Sustainable Waterfront Community

A milestone achievement, the Discovery Centre serves as an architectural landmark for the local community and future homeowners to discover and engage with Lakeview Village

The Discovery Centre is a new community hub along Mississauga’s waterfront, serving as a sustainable architectural landmark for Canada’s most transformative waterfront community. As the inaugural building for Lakeview Village, the Discovery Centre sets the tone for the quality and design excellence. The building features spaces for culinary, arts and cultural events, while offering an enhanced experience for the public to learn more about the future community.

Designed by Q4 Architects with interior by II BY IV Design, the Discovery Centre’s modern, open and contemporary feel beautifully captures the intersection of meaningful community connection and sustainable development, reflecting the guiding principles behind Lakeview Village.

Q4 Architects (Q4A) drew inspiration from the site’s past to inform its design, while fusing modern elements throughout to establish a 21st century waterfront community. The Discovery Centre’s façade, featuring a mix of wood, brick and glazing, thoughtfully reflects the site’s industrial past as a coal-fired station and the neighbouring buildings, such as the Small Arms Inspection Building.  Four vertical elements reference the “Four Sisters” chimneys of the old Lakeview Generating Station, while a sloping green roof can be viewed from the street-level, exemplifying the team’s commitment to sustainability. Other sustainable features include free EV chargers for the public and a water harvesting system for irrigation around the site.

Upon entry, visitors are greeted by a stunning double-height pavilion featuring smart glass that refracts blue hues into the expansive space, creates seamless connections from the outdoors in. Rotating digital artwork by local artists is on display in the pavilion and a wraparound floor-to-ceiling green wall with native plantings becomes a crowning feature of the space.

The Centre includes multiple flexible rooms that provide options for community activities, meetings, and sales galleries to support the various phases of the development. A lounge on the second floor and a dedicated community room creates endless opportunities for gatherings and events. An expansive outdoor terrace provides sweeping views of the adjacent green roof, the entire Lakeview Village site and Lake Ontario.

The Discovery Centre represents a thoughtful approach to designing a flexible and responsive space that can service both sales functions and community uses – serving as a model for placemaking and meaningful community infrastructure in master-planned communities.

The Discovery Centre, which has been meaningfully built with the community in mind, will serve as an immersive and interactive central gathering place for visitors to discover all aspects behind the Lakeview Village project, from design, public art and construction to technology and sustainability. Each of these characteristics have been thoughtfully incorporated through forward-thinking design elements which emphasize a connection to nature and the site’s natural heritage.

A place of connection and discovery, the Discovery Centre is also a gateway to the larger Lakeview Village site – a network of walkable trails and cycling routes, a new recreational field, a seasonal art trail featuring commissioned works by local artists and stunning waterfront views.

Sustainability, innovation and environmental stewardship are at the core of Lakeview Village. Designed with these principles in mind, the Discovery Centre brings nature indoors through a number of features to encourage authentic, meaningful connections to the environment and future Lakeview Village community:

  • Green Roof: A thriving ecosystem of over 1500 native plants from 30 different species, the roof is made of 100% recycled materials and provides a refuge and habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies while enhancing biodiversity, stormwater management, and acting as a seed orchard for future green roof projects.
  • Living Wall: A wrap-around green wall featuring a diverse ecosystem with over 20 different plant species augments the building’s interior, drawing on the tenets of biophilic design while improving air quality increasing humidity, to provide a more comfortable indoor environment.
  • 4 Sisters: Reflecting the site’s transformation, the centre reimagines the land’s former occupant, a coal-burning powerplant known as the ‘Four Sisters Smokestacks,” as four large windows, drawing light into the space during the day and framing the building at night.
  • Sage Glass: Advanced glass technology used to optimize daylight, manage heat and reduce energy consumption while maintaining panoramic views of the surrounding area, the glass, doors and railings have also been glazed with bird-friendly film to mitigate day and nighttime collisions while making the building less dangerous to migratory birds.


With approximately 28,000 inhabitants and workers, supplemented by numerous daily and special-event visitors, Lakeview will become Mississauga’s vibrant waterfront, as well as a leading example of sustainable, high-intensity development that maintains and enhances quality of life for all.

Photos credit: James Bombales

Timber House by Adjaye Associates is pegged to be one of the largest residential mass-timber buildings in Canada

Partnership unites local and international talent to deliver needed affordable housing and public spaces, speeding Toronto’s recovery 

Waterfront Toronto picked Dream Unlimited Corp. (Dream) and Great Gulf Group, known as Quayside Impact Limited Partnership, for developing the Quayside site in downtown Toronto.

Among the highlights of the winning submission from Dream and Great Gulf were proposals to create:

  • 800+ affordable housing units, more than doubling the affordable housing Waterfront Toronto has brought to the waterfront, with many delivered in earliest stages to address an urgent need.
  • New public spaces, including a two-acre forested green space, plus a significant urban farm atop one of Canada’s largest residential mass timber buildings.
  • A landmark cultural destination and multi-use arts venue that brings together space for the performing arts, Indigenous-centered cultural celebrations and flexible education spaces.
  • Exemplary low-carbon development and innovations, making Quayside the first all-electric, zero-carbon community at this scale;

Visionary world-class architecture that will raise the bar on design across the entire neighbourhood and create a visually striking focal point on Toronto’s waterfront.

“We set out to make Quayside the kind of community that meaningfully improves the lives of its residents, neighbours and visitors. The proposal from Dream and Great Gulf will make a real difference in the lives of those who live near the waterfront or come to visit, by creating affordable rental housing, extensive public spaces, and new jobs and business opportunities,” said George Zegarac, Waterfront Toronto President and Chief Executive Officer. “Thanks also to all of the proponent teams, whose talent, hard work and passion for city building was clear in their submissions,” added Zegarac.

“The opportunity to develop Quayside with Waterfront Toronto is the perfect development at the perfect time. Dream and Great Gulf regard our activities in real estate as a canvas on which we can make our communities more inclusive, sustainable and healthier. With Quayside, Waterfront Toronto has created the greatest opportunity for impact development in the country, and we believe that the Partnership is ideally suited to deliver on this opportunity,” said Michael Cooper, Chair, Quayside Impact Limited Partnership.

Additional highlights: 

  • Lead developers with a proven ability to deliver on their commitments, together with a team of world-class architects and expert local partners including The Bentway, Centre for Social Innovation, Crow’s Theatre, George Brown College, Rekai Centres and WoodGreen Community Services
  • Five towers plus one of Canada’s largest residential mass timber buildings
  • Affordable housing delivered in each development phase with market housing, with an emphasis on family-sized units
  • Community care hub offering a range of programs and services to support aging-in-place, recreation and wellness for all residents
  • 2-acre (0.8 hectare) community forest providing a network of car-free green spaces for residents and visitors
  • Open space network designed to be barrier-free and accessible for all ages and abilities
  • Canada’s first all-electric, zero-carbon master plan (3.4 million square feet) and a variety of sustainability innovations
  • Strong social and workforce benefits, advancing employment, business and capacity-building opportunities for Indigenous peoples and equity-deserving communities.

Quayside will be “the first all-electric, zero-carbon community at its scale.” George Zegarac, president of Waterfront Toronto, said they set out to make the district “the kind of community that meaningfully improves the lives of its residents, neighbors, and visitors.”



The Award-Winning Putnam Family YWCA Hamilton is the new benchmark in a fully sustainable building.


Its Passive House design attains the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, economic, and social – all in one beautiful Crown Point neighbourhood landmark.

“Passive house is the best solution,” said Medora Uppal, Director of Operations at the Hamilton YWCA, “Jonathan Kearns, the lead architect, made it so simple. There is no complicated advanced technology as in a net-zero house. There is no expensive documentation as in a LEED-designated building. Both of which are very expensive to build. It is simply a high-quality building that is meant to last.”


Its Passive House design attains the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, economic, and social – all in one beautiful Crown Point neighbourhood landmark.

“Passive house is the best solution,” said Medora Uppal, Director of Operations at the Hamilton YWCA, “Jonathan Kearns, the lead architect, made it so simple. There is no complicated advanced technology as in a net-zero house. There is no expensive documentation as in a LEED-designated building. Both of which are very expensive to build. It is simply a high-quality building that is meant to last.”

“We wanted to reimagine the site for women and women-led families,” said Christopherson, “But it had to be a beautiful building where people were proud to live. We wanted it to be more than housing, so we consulted widely. And we wanted people to feel welcome. We wanted survivors of family violence to feel secure when they walked in the doors. Now, for the first time, we have an environment built exclusively for women and gender diverse families.”

“Passive House design offers social sustainability,” said Deborah Byrne, COO of KMAI and Director of Passive House Design, “Proper housing removes the stigma, health issues and other poverty related issues associated with poor housing and allows the occupants to focus on more positive matters in their lives.”

“Pride and dignity,” said Christopherson, “Kearns Mancini really understood how important the built environment is to people’s well-being.  They listened. That’s what we liked about them. They listened.”

For the YWCA Hamilton, KMAI’s Passive House expertise was crucial.

“Sustainability was the clincher,” said Uppal, “When Jonathan spoke about the Passive House design and thinking ahead, the upfront costs seemed more manageable and ongoing costs were feasible.”

Economic sustainability is fundamental for a non-profit like the Y, which must pay its own operating costs. The Kearns Mancini Passive House design meets these criteria with flying colours. The Putnam Family Y cost only 2% more to build, compared to code construction, and it saves up to 90% in ongoing energy costs. With this formula, the slight additional capital costs will be paid back in two years. This is truly ‘affordable’ housing.

“There’s clearly an environmental benefit,” Medora Uppal, “but it also makes good business sense. It is the least expensive sustainable solution. When it comes to Green Energy solutions, Passive House in the only way to go.”

“To meet the International Passive House Standard, the walls and roofs were R37.5 effective and R49 effective respectively and are thermal bridge free.” said Byrne, “By comparison, code buildings have significantly lower R values and permit some thermal bridging. Thermal bridging is the reason we have cold spots, condensation and/or mould in buildings. Passive House insulations are approx. 50% better than conventional.”

The result? The space heating demand is equivalent to heating your home with the light of one candle.This is also healthy housing; the building provides constant fresh air. It is comfortable housing with wellness built in; there is little or no active heating or cooling. With constant low-flow ventilation and with constant air and surface temperature, there are no drafts or cold spots.

The massiveness of the walls (and no leakage) attenuates sounds – making the building very quiet and providing a calm feeling throughout.

“You feel it immediately when you walk into the Putnam Y,” said Uppal, “The air. It feels clean and refreshing. And it is silent, so quiet even on busy Ottawa Street.” The Putnam Y is an oasis of calm that’s well suited to help heal those who seek refuge there.

It is also disease-resilient housing. The airtight envelope controls the air coming in and out of the building, all of it. The ventilation systems are equipped with hospital grade filters which remove 99% of known pathogens and toxins. Passive House optimises the relative humidity in the building as it offers optimal conditions for the human body to fight off any potential airborne disease.As Deborah Byrne said, “The Putnam Family YWCA opens the door to super-efficient, resilient, future-proofed buildings, making Passive House accessible for everyone.”

It is a superb capital investment strategy. Kearns Mancini believes that the Putnam Family Y will still be outperforming conventional buildings in 40 years’ time, based on the experience of the past 30 years of the Passive House Standard.

“In most buildings, you design the shell, then you add the machinery. In Passive House, the building is the machine. It’s a puzzle, like using Lego to make a Rubik’s cube,” said Byrne.


“When we’ve had women tour the building,’ said Christopherson, “it is an overwhelming experience seeing precarious women feeling so amazed at the prospect that this would be their home. The freedom, comfort and sense of belonging.” That’s sustainability in its fullest sense.

Kearns Mancini is committed to sustaining people on this planet, doing more with less and using Passive House to accomplish that.


3 Euro Windows deliver highest quality products that exceed all expectations


When Alex Budure is asked what separates 3 Euro Windows from the competition, his response is instantaneous – quality, quality, quality.

One of two managers with the Waterloo-based windows and doors company, Budure confidently offers assurance that all their German-engineered products are in a class by themselves.
“A high-quality window should last at least two decades, but it seems that the average homeowners today replace their windows every seven or eight years,” says Budure, partnered with Dr. Valeriu Cirpanu, the other 3 Euro Windows’ manager. “That’s not right, in our opinion. It’s unacceptable. We take a customer-focused approach and will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in window innovation.”


Because of his product’s superiority, Budure says his company is slowly but surely making a name for itself in both commercial and residential construction industries. Since founding the company in 2017, Budure set out to provide windows and doors at a level of quality not available elsewhere.

Part of that reality was due to the age-old, profit-based approach others were taking.

“There’s a North American habit of mass-producing building products such as windows, with quality suffering in the name of profits,” he says. “We provide a higher-quality, energy-efficient window that doesn’t break the bank.”

Budure’s aha moment came while he was working as a project coordinator for a residential property back in 2016. He was tasked with sourcing large, high-quality, energy-efficient windows that would fit the aesthetics of the modern build. But he quickly learned that it would be nearly impossible to do that in Canada without exceeding the client’s budget, or compromising on quality.

With that in mind, he opted to go to Europe with the intention of finding the perfect supplier that could meet the high requirements of the project. With some digging, he found exactly what he was looking for in Timisoara, Romania – a veteran window manufacturer (Lipoplast) that shared his values and had the advantage of an integrated production system, with lines for insulated glass, PVC and aluminum profiles. This allowed Budure to complete the project under budget, exceeding his customer’s expectations. It also shaped the idea of what 3 Euro Windows would become.

Budure’s aha moment came while he was working as a project coordinator for a residential property back in 2016. He was tasked with sourcing large, high-quality, energy-efficient windows that would fit the aesthetics of the modern build. But he quickly learned that it would be nearly impossible to do that in Canada without exceeding the client’s budget, or compromising on quality.

With that in mind, he opted to go to Europe with the intention of finding the perfect supplier that could meet the high requirements of the project. With some digging, he found exactly what he was looking for in Timisoara, Romania – a veteran window manufacturer (Lipoplast) that shared his values and had the advantage of an integrated production system, with lines for insulated glass, PVC and aluminum profiles. This allowed Budure to complete the project under budget, exceeding his customer’s expectations. It also shaped the idea of what 3 Euro Windows would become.

Today, their catalogue selection has expanded, but their goal remains the same – to deliver the highest quality of windows and doors, and continue to exceed every expectation.

3 Euro Windows’ products are uncompromisingly good, offering all the benefits of modern windows, from design to function, building physics and insulation values to environmental protection and value retention. They are also designed to satisfy future needs and requirements, particularly with a view towards creating more sustainable homes.

Theirs is a modern, best-in-breed window and door system. Highest quality, real heating cost savings, optimum noise protection, reliable intrusion protection and a wide range of options improve the quality of life.

There are many ways 3 Euro Windows’ products deliver added value, including:

  • More design / Slim profiles enlarge the transparent glass surface. They are also available in a comprehensive range of foil laminate colours, in wood finishes, in plain colours, and with aluminium facing shells for individual coating;
  • More heat insulation / The intelligent overall design considerably increases the thermal insulation;
  • More sound insulation / Combined with high quality functional glazing, the system provides optimum sound insulation up to 47 dB;
  • More intruder protection / The window profiles are designed for the use of special security fittings and additional anti-burglary measures;
  • More seal tightness / The innovative seal levels keep out drafts, dust and rain to create a pleasant living environment;
  • More ease of care / The high quality surfaces are extremely weather resistant and easy to clean;
  • More stability / Optimally dimensioned steel reinforcements deliver perfect window statics;
  • More convenience in use / All the latest fittings technology and all current opening concepts are possible for simplicity and convenience in use;
  • More ventilation / An optimized ventilation program ensures a pleasant climate in the living environment;
  • More value / High quality, premium and environmentally friendly PVC-Us that reflect the greenline principle ensure durability and enhance the value of any property;
  • 76 mm / The window profile’s low construction depth doesn‘t just enhance the appearance of a new building, it is also perfect for renovation projects with complex architectural and energy-related requirements.Sustainability is not something Budure takes lightly – not only in ecological terms, but also in terms of social and economic standards. 3 Euro Windows’ products are designed to protect the oceans and the environment, setting a benchmark for intelligent material cycles.“We pride ourselves on the quality of our products and refuse to settle for anything but the best,” he says. “Our primary goal is source products that you will love, at a fair and affordable price point.=“We’re deeply invested in people and technology in order to deliver a quality of windows and doors that will exceed expectations. Designed with longevity in mind, our windows will remain impenetrable to cold, noise, and humidity and will be as easy to maintain as the day they were purchased.”


Dubai Expo 2020 – The Most Sustainable World Expo Ever

World Expos’ History

In 1849 Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, came up with the idea of inviting international exhibitors to participate in an exposition.

The first world Expo held in the iconic Crystal Palace celebrated the fruits of the industrial revolution in London in 1851. The pavilions were revolutionary iron and plate glass structures, showcasing technology from all over the world.

The inspiration of bringing a world of innovation to one place was highly successful. Over six million people visited the Expo, equivalent to 28% of the national population.

World Expos are hosted every five years in cities around the world. Past World Expos have seen innovations such as live television (1939 New York), the mobile phone (1970 Osaka), and the first humanoid robot (Nagoya 2005) revealed to the world for the first time.

This tradition has been ongoing for 170 years now. Dubai Expo picks up the baton of sustainability with the theme, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ in 2021.

General view of 2020 Plaza and Al Wasl during a test event, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)

Three Hubs Announce the Dubai Expo 2020 Mission

The theme of the Expo – ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ aims to cultivate new connections, collaborations and partnerships across sectors and geographies, with the event serving as a platform to inspire progressive change that will shape the future.

Mission Possible – The Opportunity Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Suneesh Sudhakaran/Expo 2020 Dubai)

There are three Expo Districts suggesting how this can be achieved: Opportunity Pavilion (designed by AGi Architects), Mobility Pavilion (designed by Foster and Partners) and Sustainability Pavilion (designed by Grimshaw Architects).

.General view of Alif – The Mobility Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Suneesh Sudhakaran/Expo 2020 Dubai)

The master plan spreads out over 438 hectares (1,080 acres) of level ground. Visitors to Expo 2020 will have the world at their fingertips, with 192 countries taking part, and each pavilion telling a different story

A Night View of Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Suneesh Sudhakaran/Expo 2020 Dubai)

The Architecture Is a Challenge to Our Senses

Dubai Expo 2020 is vast by any exhibition standard. Everything is on a grand scale that dwarfs the visitor, yet there are a myriad spaces where they can shelter among trees, and recover their perspective. The local municipality spent over $US 6 million on 800,000 plants, plus vegetation. These transform Dubai Expo 2020 into a lush desert oasis.

Aerial night view of Al Wasl, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)

The Expo’s architectural marvels include the world’s largest 360-degree projection surface, at least 90 uniquely designed national pavilions, and 200,000 square meters of futuristic structures. These achievements rightly resulted in the project achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Exterior of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Suneesh Sudhakaran/Expo 2020 Dubai)

Therefore we can expect to be somewhat daunted by vast structures and broad spaces. The expo has finally risen from the desert, even though COVID-19 delayed opening until October 2021. What more fitting way to view it than from a palm-like, garden in the sky, gliding 160 passengers up and down on magnetic propulsion.

Our Planet’s Future in Sustainability District

The astute visitor notices sustainability in action as they explore this District. They see advanced technology promoting the vision, as the nations of the world champion green technology. And they glimpse what it will be like living harmoniously with nature, as the tech vision they long for comes to fruition.

D. Energy Trees at Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)

A parabolic roof shelters visitors. Here they imagine what it could be like to be in balance with the world. The exhibition insists we can, and will coexist with nature in a high tech environment. Solar energy and water-condensing trees are on display, enlivening a stream flowing through traditional irrigation channels.

Interior of Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)

The giant pavilion appears to float on air. Yet it offers enlivening experiences from diving deep in the ocean, to exploring huge forest roots. Here is proof of the glory of nature that human technology can save when done smartly. But this is not something we can achieve nationally. Dubai Expo 2020 believes this will be a global effort.

Interior view of Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)

New Ways to Travel and Connect at Mobility District

Mobility is the key to our sustainable future. But here we are thinking more than just carbon-free transport. We are entering a traversal virtual world, where we travel, communicate and share in our imagination. This is a place to visualize limitless interconnection helping us understand each other better, and share.

Astronaut on display at Alif – The Mobility Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Suneesh Sudhakaran/Expo 2020 Dubai)

Mobility pavilion demolishes walls between physical and digital space. Instead, they operate on a continuum meeting sustainability’s demands. Enter the giant structure and you propel into a future where we build a glorious, harmonious global society together. Digital softens cultural differences. Hear from giants and reach for stars.

Interior view of Alif – The Mobility Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Suneesh Sudhakaran/Expo 2020 Dubai)

Unlock this Potential in Opportunity District

Dubai Expo 2020’s vision coalesces from dream to possibility in the giant halls of Opportunity district. Here we learn to open new doors to everyone in the world. The exhibits showcase how this is already happening. We are on the way to a better future. We can sustain it, now we know how.

The Opportunity District, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Suneesh Sudhakaran/Expo 2020 Dubai)
The Opportunity District, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Suneesh Sudhakaran/Expo 2020 Dubai)

The Dubai Expo 2020 will live on after the doors close, as the buildings repurpose to form 80% of a sustainable, human-centric city. Here, the people of the world will continue to come. Continue to come, meet and discuss how to take the bold ideas of the Expo forward. Keep hoping those doors never close, and that vision materializes soon.


Expo 2020 Dubai – The Singapore Pavilion is a sustainable and lush oasis in the desert

The Singapore Pavilion at the 2020 World Expo in Dubai is located in the Sustainability District and brings an oasis of lush trees, verdant shrubs and vibrant orchids to the desert. With its theme of ‘Nature, Nurture, Future’, it encapsulates Singapore’s story of overcoming its physical limitations as a small island city-state and adapting itself to become a liveable and biophilic city of the futur

The Singapore Pavilion welcomes visitors into a sustainable oasis in the desert that integrates nature, innovation and architecture and encapsulates Singapore’s vision of becoming a City in Nature.

The pavilion is a prototype that demonstrates how the built environment can co-exist with nature. It also mirrors Singapore’s story of thriving in a challenging environment, and, just like land-limited Singapore, the pavilion sits on one of the smallest plots of the Expo but makes an impactful statement despite its size.

The Singapore Pavilion houses over 170 varieties of plants, which will grow to be even more dense and lush over the Expo period. The Pavilion integrates abundant landscaping into its design, showing that the built environment can help to intensify nature in an urban setting. Buildings like this prototype can help to increase biodiversity by offering habitats for animals and play a pivotal part in combatting climate change by providing ecosystem services like solar heat reduction, CO2 and NOX sequestration, a reduction in other pollutants like PM10 particles, releasing oxygen and rainwater remediation.

The Singapore Pavilion is net-zero in its energy usage and produces its own electricity with its solar canopy that shelters the entire structure. It uses an efficient solar reverse-osmosis desalination system to meet its water needs. To reduce the usage of energy and other resources, passive strategies like natural cross-ventilation, sun-shading and planting were implemented to create comfortable climate for visitors to enjoy and plants to thrive in.


The ground level garden is a landscaped park, welcoming visitors from an arid and hard-edged environment into a biophilic, voluminous 3-dimensional green space that is flanked on both sides by forest trees and capped with a spectacular hanging garden comprising of an array of pots with a mixture of draping vines. The garden paths lead visitors across an undulating terrain with water streams, planted knolls and 9-metre-tall vertical thematic cones, emphasising the experience of a lush, tropical and refreshing Singapore.

To maximize the usable site area, the design takes a layered approach, stacking multiple levels and functions on top of each other. Visitors will go on an experiential journey by following the canopy walk that meanders through the pavilion’s multiple levels while being surrounded by verdant palms, trees, shrubs and vibrant orchids. The Hanging Garden as well as three thematic cones that are draped in vertical greenery add to this immersive, three-dimensional biophilic experience.

A meandering canopy walk brings the visitors around and through the three thematic cones at different levels. The first cone is an artistic multimedia experience of Singapore’s solutions to global issues. The second cone showcases Singapore’s multitude of orchid species in a vast spectrum of colours. The final cone is a sensory green space that spirals around fog, rainbows and a spinning dipterocarp sculpture. Walking through these cones, while supplemented with QR-linked information, the visitors quickly gain a good understanding of Singapore’s unique DNA.

The canopy walk opens up to a sky market, an open deck for a curated food menu, exhibition and programs, sheltered under the solar canopy made of 517 solar panels. The experience concludes at the ground galleria with a display of Singapore’s design stories and a shop. Despite the heat of the desert, the visitors’ journey through the Singapore pavilion is comfortable and enjoyable due to shading, the evapo-transpiration cooling of the surrounding vegetation and the strategic placement of fine mist fans that cool the air by about 5-10 degree Celsius.

The Pavilion not only demonstrates the seamless integration and co-existence of nature and buildings, it shows a captivating and forward-looking Singapore that is sociable, sustainable and liveable.

Our climate crisis shows us that the impact of human actions on the planet cannot be ignored, and that urgent action needs to be taken. This reinforces the aspirations of the SG Pavilion: to design a different future and to create a sustainable, resilient environment in which humans co-exist with nature.


WOHA was founded by Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell in 1994. The Singapore-based practice focuses on researching and innovating integrated architectural and urban solutions to tackle the problems of the 21st century, such as climate change, population growth and rapidly increasing urbanisation

Thought-provoking KANVA exhibit at Expo 2020 Dubai conveys a sense of urgency in tackling climate change

A poetic vision of an uncertain future and a reflection upon our present, the TRACES art installation situated on the Canada Pavilion site at Expo 2020 Dubai, challenges visitors and raises awareness about the growing threat to ecosystems caused by climate change.

KANVA, a Montreal-based firm renowned for meaningful projects extending beyond the boundaries of architectural shapes and forms, is proud to unveil TRACES, a multisensorial, thought-provoking exhibition on the grounds of the Canada Pavilion at World Expo 2020 Dubai. Commissioned by Global Affairs Canada and produced by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) to populate the Plaza grounds leading up to the pavilion Entry Hall, KANVA has taken a national, yet universal approach to designing a public installation that aligned with both Canada’s participation at the Expo and Expo 2020 Dubai’s themes of Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability.

Striking a chord

The project struck a chord with core values long embraced by KANVA, and the firm embarked on a mission to connect hearts, heads, and hands in pursuit of a brighter future that reinterprets relationships between inhabitants of the planet. In developing a concept that would be artistic and poetic, yet also touching and meaningful, they studied multiple aspects of global warming and habitat degradation before embracing a visual that captured the very essence of their message – a rising murmur of birds, swirling across the sky in a massive, collective movement.

In order to capture and convey a message of urgency surrounding the issue of rapid habitat decline, KANVA came up with the idea of fossilization of an inhabited landscape, where birds are suspended in motion in a fossilized form that preserves ‘TRACES’’ of their existence.

“Whether due to climate change, or oppressive human development, as landscapes fade away, so do the species that inhabit them” notes Bebawi. “They are simply erased from memory, and our collective amnesia allows us to persist in their destruction. TRACES reinterprets that cycle by fossilizing the species to ensure that it is not forgotten”, adds Olga Karpova, architect and senior project lead at KANVA.

Thinking inside of the box

KANVA’s expression unfolds in a series of eight boxes, spread across the plaza grounds of the Canada Pavilion in seemingly random fashion as a counter to the traditional linear grid of human development. Each museum box, measuring 8’ x 8’x 8’, contains a precious object that embodies the beauty of dynamic life in suspension, complemented by multimedia interactions developed with artist Étienne Paquette. As visitors weave their way towards the entry hall of the pavilion, they are invited to move through a variety of multisensorial experiences of discovery and self-appropriation.

The Jewel initiates the conversation by placing fossilized birds on a pedestal, with integrated lighting that presents them as beautiful, but troubled jewels.

The journey transitions to The Nearness, the most impressive in terms of scale, featuring a wall of extraordinarily filtered light highlighting the movement of birds within a vertical landscape.

The Memorial strikes a more emotional chord, symbolizing a horizontal tomb where visitors find themselves paying tribute to a fallen species. The rectangular base with integrated lighting showcases fossilized birds as they hover over a stunning landscape of wood strata.

The Forgotten symbolizes the careless discarding of objects we once cherished, with stacked cubes of illuminated prototypes that have been cast aside and underappreciated.

The Seat invokes a sense of individual responsibility, seating visitors alone at an old school desk. Upon opening the desk, waterscape sounds and a 3D printed bird is unveiled in a seascape of black ink, depicting the effects of ocean spills through the distressed gaze of a bird struggling mightily to survive.

The Gathering focuses on collective responsibility, embodying the process of problem solving around a dinner table, and inspired by a glowing cube of fossilized birds emerging from the center of the table. Unsettled sounds of distressed birds gradually evolve into soft and soothing harmonies that symbolize hope as visitors sit together at the table.

By contrast, The Sanctuary is an extraordinary enclosure devoid of human interference, with its white canvas animated by a flowing stream of birds immersed in a human-free world. KANVA’s eighth box delivers the starkest message of all.

The Awareness consists of four chairs, one in each corner of the box, with an empty bird cage, door open, suspended from the ceiling. Intensifying white noise indicates that something is wrong and, as visitors take a seat and face each other, the ambiance softens to a soothing garden serenade of singing birds. But the cage is empty, and the bird has left.

In addition to the eight artifact boxes, KANVA also designed a mural that stretches along a large, curved wall of the entry hall to the Canada Pavilion. The mural features a multiplicity of flocking birds, at different depths and distances, on a background that can be interpreted as sky, mountains, forests or water. While the mural is a fixed presentation for Expo 2020 Dubai, the eight cubes are destined to travel the world, where they will persevere as flocking ambassadors of hope.

A truly rewarding experience

Developing TRACES was an extremely rewarding experience for the socially and environmentally conscious firm. Beyond the disciplines of traditional architecture, the project immersed the firm in global issues of concern, as well as the deep study of bird species and their diverse movements and sounds. In creating their art, KANVA also indulged in processes such as scanning, hand sculptures and animating 3D prints of hundreds of different scales and movements, with each one enhancing their conviction along the way.

“We couldn’t be prouder of this work, which has the capacity to be light, beautiful, and entertaining, yet also serve as a conduit of education, consciousness, awareness, and urgency,” concludes Rami Bebawi. “Hyper development has left so much damage behind, and the time has passed for simple acknowledgement. Responsibility must now turn to action.”

Cagbalete Sand Clusters – Mauban, Philippines

Cagbalete Sand Clusters creates a new sustainable typology for eco-tourism, one that uplifts the local culture, which revolves around farming and fishery.

Desired to create a community-building and nurturing ecology for its surroundings, Cagbalete Sand Clusters is a dynamic space for both its inhabitants and visiting tourists. This intermingling is vital to the Filipinos as an archipelagic country of 7,641 islands, each with its own distinct cultural and natural identities.

The design explores the inherent values of locality and sense of place in this project, but through more ethical means of development. The project integrates the programmatic and cultural context of its locale into the architecture, which is essentially a unit system, pre-fabricated set of parts that can grow horizontally or vertically.


The client wanted to create farm lots in a 3.8-hectare property in Cagbalete Island, Quezon province. With a radial site development, a hyperbolic cluster unit system is created that was largely inspired by corals, given the location’s rich marine life and biodiversity.

The resulting structure is a mixed-use development: a private family home and a farm-to-table restaurant that focuses on the use of endemic plant species and seasonal mud crab farming. One of the considerations is that mud crab farming can help prevent soil erosion, and that the activity can also help protect the existing biodynamic mangroves in the area. The team also introduced local hapa nets into the design as a kind of membrane that gets mixed with local sand, soil, and mud, resulting in a new and localized patina, a biophilic membrane that creates an interesting footprint with the hyperbolic possibilities it offers. The hapa nets also function as a ‘veil’ over the structure, a translucent skin that masks sun and rain, but also serves as informal sleeping areas (mosquito beds) for afternoon siestas. They have elevated the humble hapa net into something beyond its utilitarian origins; it is now both part of the structure’s construction membrane, a tool for food production, and a web that facilitates the daily activities of the structure’s inhabitants, enmeshing time, culture, and space.

The project envisions a farm-leisure community that is self-sustaining, where electricity is produced from bespoke solar umbrella pods, and where the spaces largely utilize natural ventilation. It aims to blur the boundaries between what is natural and artificial in this structure, opening it to transformation throughout different seasons, rain or shine. A wellness grotto with salt water is also present, together with mud and dipping pools where a sensorial experience awaits its users. At night, the development shines and transforms into a glowing, plankton-like space with multi-level galleries, performance spaces, and lighthouse functionality.

Cagbalete Sand Clusters won the Food Category of the WAFX Awards this year, and the project  is also a finalist in the ‘Experimental’ category of the World Architecture Festival, to be held this December 2021 in Lisbon, Portugal.