8 boxes that explore the effects of habitat destruction on birds

A company in Montreal, KANVA, developed a thought-provoking display for the Canada Pavilion at the World Expo 2020 Dubai. Called TRACES, it is an interactive and eye-opening look at the effects of climate change on wildlife. In their latest showcase, the team used migratory birds as the subject of the project, which was commissioned by Global Affairs Canada and produced by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).

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“The concept for TRACES began with the placement of the Canada Pavilion in the sustainability section of the Expo site, and with the main exhibition inspired by Canadian landscapes and natural diversity,” said Rami Bebawi, a KANVA partner and lead architect of the TRACES project. “We wanted to create something that would underscore the threats that climate change and global warming pose to the same landscapes and more specifically to the species that inhabit them.”

Related: WOHA’s final design for the Singapore Pavilion is nearing completion

Boxes are set apart

The exhibition consists of eight boxes that guide visitors through a progression of understanding and appreciation of the birds’ situation, experiencing a rapid decline in suitable habitats. The title TRACES represents what may be left of their existence without attention to protecting their existence.

Statue birds stuck inside a box

“They are simply erased from memory, and our collective memory loss allows us to continue to destroy them,” said Olga Karpova, architect and senior project manager at KANVA. “TRACES reinterprets that cycle by fossilizing the species to ensure it is not forgotten.”

A cube in front of a mural of flying birds

Each box shows measures eight feet long, 8 feet wide and 8 feet deep. They contain objects for reflection. The Jewel box focuses on petrified birds on a pedestal, highlighted by lighting that offers an ominous setting.

Sculpture trapped inside a wall

The proximity box has a wall of migratory birds on the background of filtered light. The memorial box appeals to the emotions with a grave of fallen birds. The forgotten box represents waste stacked in dice that has been thoughtlessly discarded. The seat box places visitors at an old school table, where they can reflect on their personal responsibility towards sustainable actions. When the desk is opened, a 3D-printed bird is revealed, struggling with the effects of sea spills.

Four chairs and a table with a cube on the table

The collection box highlights the collective responsibility, which gives group thinking problem solving with birds that show up on the run. Sounds around the table range from especially distressed birds to soothing sounds of nature, as discussions around the table provide hope. The sanctuary box provides insight into a world without humans, where birds thrive.

Four chairs on the ground and a birdcage hanging from the ceiling

Finally, the eighth box, marked Consciousness, consists of four chairs facing each other from the corners. Intense sounds set a tone for concern, and an empty birdcage hangs from the ceiling.


Photograph by Gerry O’Leary

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