esigning an exhibit that is 100-percent recyclable, sustainable, and/or reusable may seem impossible. But that was the challenge South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) handed to Scan Display Solutions Pty. Ltd. "The booth had to be environmentally sensitive and align with the DEA's mission, which is to promote sustainable development and conservation of natural resources," said Paul Hugo, Scan Display's exhibition architect.
Four steel I-beam frames tied together with large wooden beams provided the exhibit's primary structure. Set atop a floor comprising modular steel platforms covered in biodegradable, sand-colored carpet, the two-story design resembled a pair of inverted trapezoids stacked atop one another. More than an artistic choice, the odd arrangement reduced direct sunlight to the interior rooms, thus reducing the need for cooling equipment.
The lower level of the DEA exhibit highlighted the South African landscape via exterior walls that displayed rows of indigenous plant life. The inside walls, made of biodegradable chipboard, were coated with a VOC- and odor-free paint. Reusable tensioned-fabric graphics rounded out the lower level, while a central staircase enveloped by polycarbonate sheeting led to the upper level. Here, visitors found two aluminum-framed, glass-enclosed meeting rooms and a chipboard ceiling that was left unpainted to lower the structure's carbon footprint. Six photovoltaic panels connected to a battery bank atop the roof powered the exhibit.
While they made for a striking design, the Green elements also impressed Exhibit Design Awards judges, who said, "This exhibit doesn't 'look' Green, but it certainly is."
In addition to choosing Green materials, Scan Display repurposed all of them in its own offices or in subsequent projects. Now that's a successful, sustainable design. E