French architecture studio Coldefy and Italian architecture and innovation practice CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati have unveiled the design of the French Pavilion at Osaka Expo 2025, titled ‘Theatrum Naturae’, or “Theatre of Nature”. The project aims to show France’s contribution to culture and the natural environment in the 21st century while illustrating how design can bridge the gap between human and non-human worlds on our planet, welcoming them into our natural and artificial habitats. It brings France’s multiple ecosystems to the fore, making them an integral part of the building and the visitors’ path.
While Coldefy & CRA developed the design jointly, international design & build firm RIMOND Group acts as the main contractor. Japanese firm Yasui Sekkei provides engineering and local compliance expertise.
A single pathway celebrating human senses takes the visitors through the Pavilion, creating an experience divided into what could be considered three acts: Ascent, Discovery of Nature, and Return to the Ground. Rising from ground level in an “arc de scène”, the experience begins by taking a sensual staircase that winds to form an observation balcony before crossing a curtain threshold to create an infinite loop. This loop allows for a complete exploration of the interior space of the building, encompassing its entire volume, before opening onto the verdant terrace.
The journey culminates on the Pavilion’s rooftop, featuring a landscaped garden crowning the building, resembling a slice of nature serving as a protective barrier above the pavilion—a space of common ground welcoming all living species. As visitors walk through the garden, they take a journey through the different environs of France, from the mountains to the coast. It represents the climax of the narrative, akin to the conclusion of a play that reveals the vital realization of our connection to nature.
“As we attempt to address the changing role of expos today in the context of the climate crisis, we must seek new ways to imagine the relationship between the natural and artificial. By combining different forms of intelligence, whether organic or technological, we can redefine connections between people and nature,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA and recently-appointed Curator of the Biennale Architettura 2025.
For Thomas Coldefy, founding partner of Coldefy, “The French Pavilion invites visitors to enter the theater of life. Both actors and spectators in this production, visitors traverse a path through the Pavilion that stages the essential symbiosis between humanity’s technological and natural environments, ultimately urging them to become aware of the vital necessity of our connection to nature.”
The project is in line with the overarching theme of the 2025 Osaka World Expo, ‘Empowering Life.’ Designed with a circular architectural approach, the pavilion is not only a red thread linking the many aspects of French human and more-than-human life. It also seamlessly blends prefabricated and natural elements, embedding its existence in a virtuous loop of reuse and recycling that extends far beyond the fleeting timeframe of the World Expo.
A project by Coldefy & CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati
Thomas Coldefy, Isabel Van Haute, Zoltan Neville, Marianna Guarino, Léo Akahori, Leonardo Ronchi, Shuai Wang
Carlo Ratti, Andrea Cassi (partner in charge), Ina Sefgjini, Gizem Veral, Jelena Kro, Gabriele Sacchi, Alba Leon Alvarez, Marie Petrault
Creative Lead: Italo Rota
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