Grimshaw design Dubai Expo Sustainability Pavilion with help from Eden Project and NASA

Created to act as a celebration of eco-awareness, sustainable technologies, wind harvesting and solar power the Dubai Expo 2020 Sustainability Pavilion is set to showcase the future of urban design.

It will be constructed around a central building that offers 8,000m2 of exhibition space, an auditorium, a courtyard, and a reservoir. An over-arching roof structure not only provides shade, but also generates power with large photovoltaic panels drawing energy from the sun.

All images courtesy of Grimshaw.

“The Expo event has a long tradition, one which dates back more than 150 years,” said Federica Busa, director of 2020’s theme: “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” during the World Future Energy Summit, which formed a major part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week..

“But this is the first time it will be held in this part of the world. And it was inconceivable not to put sustainability at its centre as humanity is being forced to recognise its impact on the planet.”

A series of “energy trees” will surround the main pavilion, tracking the sun to provide additional energy. The pavilion’s landscaping and walkways, which closely reference wadi riverbeds, meander around the performance spaces, while plants from the region are a key feature of the overall concept.

Architect firm Grimshaw designed the building, working as part of a team including exhibition space designers Thinc, Sir Tim Smit, founder of the UK’s Eden Project, and Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist from NASA’s Langley Research Center.

Matthew Utley, founding principal of Grimshaw, said: “We used cutting edge technology to holistically support a social and cultural agenda. The building is designed to be energy and water neutral, so it produces as much as it consumes.

“It nestles into the landscape to provide shading, while solar panels look out across the canopy and the ‘energy trees’ around its side track the course of the sun throughout the day.”

Among the features of the pavilion will be recreated natural environments, including a coral reef and mangroves while the way that a palm tree in the desert creates a micro-habitat will also be illustrated.

“We have two aims at the event,” said Marjan Faraidoomi, who is vice president of the Expo’s legacy group.

“The first is to ensure an exception event for an estimated 25 million visitors and the second to ensure a positive legacy is left behind. Then there is the intangible aspect, connecting different individuals and nations and increasing their knowledge and awareness.”

Young people are a core audience for the event, said Alya Al Ali, director of youth.

She explained: “We aim to empower youth to give them a feeling they are change-makers and provide a platform for ideas and feedback. We want to create a link between the present and the future with the focus on sustainability. We want the event to inspire, but also challenge visitors to go deeper into their understanding of [environmental] issues.”