ARCHITECTURAL PROWESS AT EXPO 2020 DUBAI

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

A display of intelligent solutions and pure ingenuity, Expo 2020 celebrates progress and diversity while it provides a glimpse into the future. In these next pages we want to highlight the outstanding architecture of these varied and remarkable pavilions designed by some of the world’s leading architects.

It is important to acknowledge that all the Expo-built structures have been designed to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) global benchmark for sustainable architecture, and after the Expo closes its doors in Spring of 2022, more than 80 percent of the structures will remain and become part of District 2020, an integrated mixed-used community.

THEMATIC DISTRICTS

The petal shaped Thematic District forms the largest built up area of the sprawling 4.38 km2 Expo 2020 area. Designed by Hopkins and Partners, the Thematic Districts represent old Dubai, with façades resembling traditional Emirati wind towers and walkways lined with flora indigenous to the UAE. Each district has it own thematic pavilion tackling three sub themes: Mobility, Sustainability and Opportunity.

With its ribbed and curved shape designed to evoke movement Alif – The Mobility Pavilion demonstrates how mobility has driven mankind’s development throughout our existence. Designed by Foster + Partners, Alif is covered in reflective stainless steel cladding that was inspired by chrome fenders and aircraft wings. Also designed with eco-friendly features is Terra, The Sustainability Pavilion, which is the work of Grimshaw Architects. The impressive avant garde structure is largely made of photovoltaic panels, 4,912 of which are arranged on a 130-metre-wide roof canopy and atop a series of 18 Energy Trees in the landscape. The third sub theme is Mission Possible – The Opportunity Pavilion where the aim is to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). AGi Architects designed this colourful pavilion with a largepublic plaza featuring overlapping floating roofs made of textile fabric and metal, representing clouds and the dreams we all aspire to achieve.

All three thematic pavilions are connected to the ambitious Al Wasl Plaza, the focal point for all visitors. It hosts a massive 130-meter-wide domed trellis which serves as the largest 360-degree projection surface in the world.

COUNTRY PAVILIONS

Expo 2020 is also host to some of the most exciting country pavilions marked by unique and stellar architecture representing each nation’s legacy and vision of the future. One of the standouts is the UK Pavilion featuring a cone shaped structure as beacon and receptor of innovation and advancement, along with Singapore, which tries to show the world what a city in nature can look like using smart and sustainable urban solutions. Finland has designed a minimalist yet modern pavilion resembling a white tent made of snow, while Korea offers a stadium-like structure with waves of colour. Spread over four floors, India’s pavilion has a façade of 600 individual blocks using kinetic architecture – a mosaic of rotating panels. The KSA’s massive eye-catching pavilion which resembles a huge window opening from the ground and soaring into the sky is appropriately titled ‘The sky is the limit’. This phrase certainly sets the tone for the rest of the pavilions which all have something unique and inspirational to offer – both from the inside and the outside.

Alif – The Mobility Pavilion

Aerial view of Alif - The Mobility Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)
Aerial view of Alif – The Mobility Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)

Architect: Foster + Partners
Location: Mobility District
Name: Alif (first letter of the Arabic alphabet; symbolising beginning of progress and new horizons)
Inspiration: Movement including that of its surrounding areas, which is represented by its ribbed and curved shape and extremely polished stainlesssteel cladding inspired by aircraft wings and chrome fenders.
Design: Meeting the LEED Gold Standard, sustainability was the driving criteria for the design. Building allows to shade itself and reflects heat thanks to metal cladding. Solar energy is retained with photovoltaic panels and landscape design encourages optimum use of water.
Capacity: The Mobility Pavilion can accommodate up to 2,500 visitors an hour and 30,000 visitors a day.
Space: Visitors can enjoy the cutting-edge mobility devices in action thanks to the partly underground, partly open-air 330-metre track, alongside an amphitheatre, a second stage, and a plaza around the building that hosts mobility-related performances, events, symposiums and demonstrations.

Exterior view of Alif - The Mobility Pavilion, DUBAI, 03 January 2021. Exterior view of Alif - The Mobility Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Suneesh Sudhakaran/Expo 2020 Dubai)
Exterior view of Alif – The Mobility Pavilion, DUBAI, 03 January 2021. Exterior view of Alif – The Mobility Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Suneesh Sudhakaran/Expo 2020 Dubai)

Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion

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

Sustainability Pavilion, named Terra (meaning Planet Earth)
Architect: Grimshaw Architects
Location: Sustainability District
Inspiration: The Earth’s natural processes: harnessing energy from sunlight and fresh water from humid air.
Dimensions: Approximately 25,000 sqm
Energy: Produced through extensive use of photovoltaic panels, whereby 4,912 of them are used on a 130-metre wide canopy and a series of 18 Energy Trees in the area.
Energy Trees: Ranging from 10 to 15.2 metres, they trace the solar
path to generate maximum power while also providing shade during the day.
Water Tree: Made with cutting edge innovative technology it can absorb moisture from the air through solar power.
Building’s technology: Can produce four Gigawatt hours of electricity per year; enough to sustain a Nissan Leaf to drive halfway to Mars.
Pavilion canopy: Inspired by the ghaf tree, it is 35 meters tall.
Roof canopy: Guided by nature to accommodate maximum use of solar panels and easy to access cleaning systems.
Pavilion grounds: Bee-friendly environment design (bees originally relocated from site during reconstruction will be rehoused on the site after Expo ends)
Sustainability: Meets the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum green building standards and is built for both maximum energy and water conservation.

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

Mission Possible,
The Opportunity Pavilion

Aerial view of Mission Possible - The Opportunity Pavilion. Expo 2020 Dubai
Aerial view of Mission Possible – The Opportunity Pavilion. Expo 2020 Dubai

Architect: AGi Architects
Location: Opportunity District
Aim: Raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Pavilion’s canopy: Designed to represent clouds and dreams. Six textile layers of fabric on metal structures raised 32 meters above the ground. The overlapping elements (clouds) transform perpetually depending on the angle they are viewed, and the variations in light and colour at different times of the day. It also shields area from direct sun exposure.
The ground and the pavilion’s facades: Coated with a terracotta ‘carpet’ representing the Earth. The ceramic shield creates a neutral backdrop that off-sets the impact of the buildings allowing emphasis on the pavilion’s public spaces where people interact.
Pavilion’s plaza: Set on two levels to represent the area spaced between the clouds above and the Earth below.

Exterior of Mission Possible - The Opportunity Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)
Exterior of Mission Possible – The Opportunity Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)

A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN PRINT IN SELECTIONS #57

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