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November 29, 2011

Climate Smart Cape Town Pavilion wins at COP17

The Climate Smart Cape Town Pavilion has won the best outdoor and best overall stand in the Climate Change Response Expo at COP17. The pavilion, constructed from 1884 plastic milk crates and more than 22,000 plastic bottles, is a completely sustainable structure that will be dismantled after COP17, with all materials re-used.

The Climate Smart Cape Town Pavilion

Capetonians in Durban felt right at home at the stand. It was designed with different coloured crates to create the outline of Table Mountain flanked by Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak, with the entrance symbolising the Camissa River and the role it played as a life source in Cape Town’s history.

The entrance to the Climate Smart Cape Town Pavilion stand

An ingenious and inspired design by ST&AR Architects and Project Manager, Stephen Lamb of Touching the Earth Lightly, the stand has excellent natural heating and cooling properties as a breathing organism. Harnessing the power of the sun with solar panels, and the wind with a wind turbine on the roof, the stand is completely off the electricity grid.

Organic lettuces planted in 250 milk crates alongside the outer walls of the stand

I spoke to Stephen Lamb and asked him about their objectives in designing the stand in this way, and how he felt about the result. “Firstly, this was a team effort by a dedicated and passionate team ranging from the architect in Cape Town to the local Durban contractors who were willing to think out of the box, and then having a client – the City of Cape Town – which was willing to believe in us," said Lamb. "The pavilion is a bold statement about getting off the energy grid, in fact putting energy back in, into which we wove this beautiful story of the Camissa and how it shaped who we are. It is a privilege to be here and do this for Cape Town and Capetonians – this stand is local, it’s lekker and fun for people to experience.”

Organic lettuces planted in 250 milk crates alongside the outer walls of the stand can be served to delegates as fresh salad, with remaining lettuces donated at the end of the climate change conference to less fortunate communities.

The City of Cape Town and its coalition partners’ projects to establish a low carbon economy in Cape Town are displayed around the stand on 22 beautifully designed posters, DVD, handpicked printed brochures and guides with tips.

The unusually stormy weather in Durban has served the Cape Town delegation well as rainwater is collected off the roof of the pavilion (illustrated in the image above), filtered and served to delegates at COP17 as a refreshing drink with flavoured buchu and mint leaves. The interior has been created from timber from alien trees felled by Working for Water – sending another water wise message.

It was a busy first day at COP17 for the Climate Smart Cape Town Coalition team with a steady stream of visitors to our stand ranging from high ranking United Nations climate advisors, to private sector representatives, public officials from various departments, and a large number of citizens with a keen interest in climate change and what is happening at COP17.

Our stand also welcomed groups of learners from Cowan House who visited COP17 on an educational tour. Stephen Lamb was on hand to share the principles of the Climate Smart Cape Town Pavilion with awed learners. Asked what the most important lesson was that she took away from the demonstration, Grade 6 learner Thina Dumalisile said, “I learned that water is special and must be used wisely.” Her classmate Jamie Loader affirmed, “If we use up all of the water, in future it will come back to haunt us.”

The day ended on a high note at 17h30, with the launch of the stand where our visitors learned more about the Climate Smart Cape Town Coalition, enjoyed Cape sparkling wines and fresh fruit, and exchanged ideas around climate change with the My Cape Town music video playing in the background and one or two delighted guests taking home their own organic crops.

Click here to read more about the design of the Cape Town Climate Smart Pavilion. 

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