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Five of the Most Unique Pavilions in Dubai Expo 2020
October 16, 2021 at 6:30 PM
by Mamathaa Hemanth
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Open for six months from 1 October, the Dubai Expo has pavilions brought to creation by names such as Foster + Partners, Santiago Calatrava, and Carlo Ratti Associati. With three distinct, yet interconnected themes of sustainability, opportunity, and mobility, the Dubai Expo seeks to "connect minds and create the future." It also seeks to highlight real-world problems and showcase solutions to them through a Global Best Practice Programme.

With 191 countries participating, this is the first time that all participating countries get a pavilion to showcase an immersive cultural experience and the unique aspects each country has to offer in the context of sustainability, mobility, and opportunity. Aside from national pavilions, there are numerous international organizations and civil society pavilions including special, Expo-owned pavilions and Districts that can change the way you see the world of Design and Architecture.

Here are Five of the Most Unique Pavilions at Dubai Expo 2020

1. Moroccan pavilion

2. Alif - The Mobility Pavilion

3. Swiss Pavilion

4. Russian Pavilion

5. Sustainability District

1. Moroccan Pavilion

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Image Credits - Marc Goodwin

The Morocco Pavilion for this year's expo was designed by architects OUALALOU+CHOI. It "showcases how traditional Moroccan design and construction techniques can find new relevance in contemporary design and urban development efforts". As a developing work of rammed earth construction—the building’s 4000 m² rammed earth facade will be the largest of its kind. This Pavilion aims to push the technical and creative limits of Morocco’s traditional building materials to new heights while paying tribute to the country’s rich and varied culture and landscape.

The pavilion is comprised of 22 stacked rectangular volumes visually resonant with vernacular rammed-earth villages in Morocco. It also encompasses 14 exhibition spaces, a traditional Moroccan restaurant, a tea room, a modern street food area, a shop, an event space, an office space, and a lounge. Arranged vertically around a deep inner courtyard—an important spatial element in traditional Moroccan architecture—each of these spaces are connected by a continuous “inner street,” which begins at the building’s uppermost floor and gradually descends to the ground floor.

2. Alif - The Mobility Pavilion


Image Credits - Expo 2020 Dubai

"Alif" which is the first letter of the Arabic alphabet and symbolizing the beginning of progress and new horizons, occupies a dedicated plaza at the south entrance of the expo. Its ribbed and curved shape was designed to 'evoke movement'. The highly reflective stainless-steel cladding was inspired by chrome fenders and aircraft wings.' It reflects the movement from the surrounding areas making the building seem alive and in motion. The visible lines of the building’s layers hint at how we are all connected, even when physically far apart. An amphitheater and a second stage, as well as a piazza surrounding the building, will host mobility-related performances, events, symposiums, and demonstrations.'

The display areas are Split into three zones, each forming a petal in the tri-foil plan. Visitors' entry is directly into the central core, which features the world’s largest passenger lift, capable of holding more than 160 persons. This moving platform takes everyone up to the third level where they can then move down through successive interconnected galleries to the lower ground floor, viewing innovative, immersive, and interactive visitor experiences focussed on mobility. There is a partly underground, partly open-air 330-meter track allows visitors to see cutting-edge mobility devices in action, as well as witness mass-produced technology that has the opportunity to vastly improve the quality of life for people in developing countries.

3. Swiss Pavilion

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Image Credits - Swiss Pavilion

The Swiss pavilion, ‘Reflections’ revolves around reflecting key aspects of Switzerland’s culture, natural beauty, and innovation, delivered through a series of interactive elements and images; the country’s breathtaking landscapes serving as a backdrop to Swiss solutions for a sustainable future, showcasing our technologies, innovations and scientific achievements.

The Swiss project selected reflections designed by Zurich-based architects OOS in collaboration with Bellprat Partner and Lorenz Eugster makes a bold architectural statement from the outside. From the inside, it offers a one-of-a-kind experience: as they pass through the pavilion, visitors will not only experience the beautiful Swiss landscape but learn more about Switzerland as a country that is proud of its traditions and at the same time highly innovative. Based on the concept of a journey, visitors are invited to experience specific Swiss values by walking through the pavilion, subdivided into three dramatic acts, each reflecting the core themes: ‘Typically Swiss’, ‘Discover Opportunities and Possibilities’ and 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.'

4. Russian Pavilion

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Image Credits - Ilya Ivanov

The Russian Pavilion is located in the Mobility District. In incorporating the nation's image in the pavilion, Sergei Tchoban, the architect of the project, 'set out to convey in the building’s compositional design the idea of constant movement as the prerequisite for unstoppable progressive development, creation, and progress.' as quoted by the expo website itself. The pavilion is in the form of two hemispheres, one inside the other. The two hemispheres are domes 'embodying the image of Planet Russia and symbolizing wholeness and universality.'

‘With our project,’ noted Sergei Tchoban, the project’s author, ‘we set out to tackle several very important objectives. First, to propose a spectacular volume whose architecture would express the theme of this section of the exhibition and simultaneously contain associations with Russia as a great country. One such association is the way the small domed volume sits inside the larger: this may be modern and emphatically dynamic, but it also resembles the traditional Russian matryoshka. Secondly, we wanted to give visitors the most comfortable possible conditions not just when viewing the exhibition but also when waiting to do so. The space under the lower dome serves as a convenient and capacious ante-area; it is well protected from the scorching sun and the heat and is packed with a variety of public functions.’

5. Sustainability District

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Image Credits - Expo 2020 Dubai

The Sustainability Pavilion, designed by Grimshaw Architects expresses the spirit of addressing 'the impact of human activities on the environment, acting as a catalyst for collective action'. With sustainability being one of the three core themes of the Expo, the pavilion named 'Terra' will become a platform that will be highlighting the urgency of the issue, sharing knowledge, and exploring ideas while also providing visitors with an immersive experience. As one of the legacy buildings, the project is set to become a Science Centre after the event and aims to operate as an 'autonomous construction in terms of energy and water supply. Under the theme "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future", this pavilion draws 'inspiration from natural processes such as photosynthesis, with a morphology optimized for sunlight and humidity water harvesting.

The canopy roof spans 130 meters and is clad in photovoltaic panels, while around it, 18 "Energy Trees" provide shade and capture solar power. With 6.300 square meters of exhibition space located below ground, thus benefiting from the earth's insulation effect. The funnel shape stimulates natural ventilation and brings natural light inside the pavilion.


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