Designs have been revealed for the United Arab Emirates pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo.
Bringing the planning principles of the traditional desert city to Milan, the pavilion’s interior of self-shaded streets evokes the experience of the UAE’s ancient communities, while demonstrating the natural energy efficiency of their compact urban form. The pavilion occupies a large site close to the centre of the Expo and is accessed via its main circulation axis, the decumanus.
From here, visitors are drawn into the mouth of a canyon-like space, defined by two undulating 12-metre-high walls. Influenced by ancient planning principles, the paths through the pavilion evoke the narrow pedestrian streets and courtyards of the ancient desert city.
The walls continue throughout the 140 metre site in a series of parallel waves, unifying the visitor spaces within a dynamic formal language designed to evoke the ridges and texture of sand dunes. To convey a distinctive sense of place, the texture of the walls derives from a scan taken in the desert and construction will utilise materials to represent the different shades of sand across the Emirates.
The GRC panels are supported by a steel frame, which can be easily demounted and reconstructed for the pavilion’s eventual relocation in the UAE. A ramp leads gently upwards from the entrance towards the auditorium. Along this route, the irrigation aqueducts that have traditionally supported agriculture in the region are introduced in digital form, and augmented reality devices help to bring the story of the Emirates to life.
A state-of-the-art auditorium is contained within a drum at the heart of the site. After the screening, visitors follow a path through further interactive displays and digital talks, including a special exhibit celebrating Dubai as host city for the 2020 Expo. The design targets LEED ‘Platinum’ through a combination of passive principles and active techniques, from rainwater capture on the roof garden to the integration of photovoltaic cells.
Most significantly, the building is designed to be recycled and rebuilt in the UAE after the Expo. The launch of designs has also been considered as part of the environmental impact – to eliminate flights, designs are being presented at a live online press conference that connects hubs in London, Milan and Abu Dhabi.
Location: Milan, Italy Architect: Foster + Partners Project Team: Norman Foster, David Nelson, Spencer De Grey, Gerard Evenden, Martin Castle, John Blythe, Andre Ford, Giovanna Skylos Labini, Ronald Schuurmans, Daniel Skidmore, Andrea Soligon Collaborating Architect: Marco Visconti Structural Engineer: Foster + Partners Mechanical And Electrical Engineer: Foster + Partners, Manens-Tifs Local Collaborating Fire Engineer: GAE Engineering S.R.L. Quantity Surveyor: Fraser Randall Landscape Consultant: WATG Lighting Consultant: David Atkinson Acoustic Consultant: Sandy Brown Associates Project Manager: Fraser Randall Area: 4,386 sqm Exhibition area: 1,175 sqm Year: 2013 Client: National Media Council