Expo 2020 Dubai: A look at five country pavilion designs

With Expo 2020 Dubai set to open its doors to public this October, STIR offers a glimpse into the unique features of five country pavilions - Singapore, India, UK, Morocco, and South Korea.

by Jerry ElengicalPublished on : Jul 17, 2021

After a year-long postponement in the wake of COVID-19, the first International Registered Exhibition of the new decade - Expo 2020 Dubai, will welcome visitors from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. This year's theme 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future', coincides with the 50th anniversary of the UAE's founding. The exposition will unite minds from all across the world under the objective of showcasing solutions to pertinent concerns such as climate change, global health crises, and human rights. Expo 2020 aims to generate ideas that will contribute towards a better collective future for our species, through the exchange of cultures and cuisines between nearly 200 participant nations and organisations.

The exposition will occur on a 438-hectare site located near Dubai's southern edge, spread across three themed districts – Mobility, Opportunity, and Sustainability, with numerous pavilions divided between them. Of all the national pavilions featured, some stand out from the rest in terms of their concept, architectural design, and structural virtuosity. As the opening date gets closer and the accompanying hype steadily builds up, STIR provides a look at what to expect from some of the most intriguing Country Pavilions at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Singapore Pavilion - Sustainability District

  • The Singapore Pavilion at Expo 2020 designed by WOHA embodies a ‘city in nature’ | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    The Singapore Pavilion at Expo 2020 designed by WOHA embodies a ‘city in nature’ Image: © Singapore Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai
  • The Singapore Pavilion’s Rainforest Cone | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    The Singapore Pavilion’s Rainforest Cone Image: © Singapore Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai
  • 01 min watch Singapore Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    Singapore Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai Video: © Singapore Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai

In an explosion of lush greenery, epitomising the idea of how a 'city in nature' will manifest, the Singapore Pavilion by WOHA explores themes of 'Nature, Nurture, and Future’. Proposing a new model of regenerative architecture, it captures Singapore's transformation from a small city-state to a biophilic metropolis of the future. With the aid of 517 photovoltaic panels and solar-powered groundwater desalination systems, the pavilion designed by the Singaporean architecture firm aims to achieve net-zero energy and water consumption over the six-month duration of the expo. Inside it, a vertical oasis of hanging gardens, spiralling inclined walkways, and sky markets wrapped in thick layers of vegetation, will depict how the built environment can co-exist alongside nature as an extension of Singapore's unique brand of sustainability. Wong Mun Summ, co-founding Director of WOHA, explains in an official release, "The Singapore Pavilion is a prototype that shows how we can build resilient, self-sufficient, biophilic, yet highly functional structures that are adaptable and scalable.”

India Pavilion - Opportunity District

  • The India Pavilion will celebrate 75 years of the country’s independence through a kinetic facade that displays stories from its history | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    The India Pavilion will celebrate 75 years of the country’s independence through a kinetic facade that displays stories from its history Image: Courtesy of CP Kukreja Architects
  • The design weaves technology and craftsmanship with references to Indian icons such as the charkha | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    The design weaves technology and craftsmanship with references to Indian icons such as the charkha (spinning wheel) Image: Courtesy of CP Kukreja Architects
  • 08 mins watch The Pavilion will transform into a stunning display of light and sound at night while depicting its concept of ‘India on the move’ | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    The Pavilion will transform into a stunning display of light and sound at night while depicting its concept of ‘India on the move’ Video: Courtesy of CP Kukreja Architects

As one of the largest pavilions at the expo, India's architectural contribution is designed by CP Kukreja Architects. Portraying the premise of 'India on the move’, the pavilion will celebrate the country's 75th year of independence by displaying tales from its rich heritage using a kinetic façade. Comprising a system of 600 movable panels, the pavilion’s exterior will transform into a scintillating display of light and sound at night. Dikshu Kukreja, Managing Principal at CPKA, explains the design concept stating, "Representing India on an international platform meant developing a design that created a meaningful dialogue between tangible and intangible aspects of built form. Weaving technology and craftsmanship together, we were able to bring forth a concept which fittingly encapsulates India's diverse cultures while captivating visitors with enthralling storytelling.” The interior design by Muse International is designed to engage users through both physical and digital exhibits, illustrating important initiatives towards self-sufficiency implemented in the country.

UK Pavilion - Opportunity District

  • Designed by Es Devlin and Avantgarde, the UK Pavilion explores the possibilities of contact with extraterrestrial life | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    Designed by Es Devlin and Avantgarde, the UK Pavilion explores the possibilities of contact with extraterrestrial life Image: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai
  • The structure consists of a radial timber cone hosting a journey of sights, sounds and noises | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    The structure consists of a radial timber cone hosting a journey of sights, sounds and noises Image: Courtesy of the UK Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai
  • At its centre is the Choral Space where visitors will be encouraged to donate a word or phrase of inspiration to the AI generative soundscape and installation | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    At its centre is the Choral Space where visitors will be encouraged to donate a word or phrase of inspiration to the AI generative soundscape and installation Image: Courtesy of the UK Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai

Inspired by one of the final initiatives launched by the late Stephen Hawking - the 'Breakthrough Message', a competition to explore the possibilities of human interaction with extraterrestrial life, the UK Pavilion was borne out of collaboration between the global brand agency Avantgarde and acclaimed British designer, Es Devlin. Steve Austen-Brown, Creative Director at Avantgarde London, states in a press statement, “It was clear from the beginning that the Pavilion needed to go beyond a building or structure.” Consisting of a radial timber cone that hosts a journey of sights, sounds, and experiences, the pavilion's design is grounded in the premise of a 'Collective Message' for humanity - where visitors will be encouraged to donate a word or phrase to an AI generated soundscape. Devlin explains, “The UK Pavilion has been conceived as a meeting point - a place of collective thinking and action. At its heart is the Choral Space - illuminated by glowing words donated by visitors." In addition, a series of physical and augmented reality exhibits will educate visitors about the UK's role in space exploration and artificial intelligence.

Morocco Pavilion - Opportunity District

  • Designed by OUALALOU + CHOI, the Morocco Pavilion will feature one of the largest rammed earth facades ever built | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    Designed by OUALALOU + CHOI, the Morocco Pavilion will feature one of the largest rammed earth facades ever built Image: © ARCHMOSPHERES
  • The structure consists of 22 volumes of rammed earth stacked around a courtyard | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    The structure consists of 22 volumes of rammed earth stacked around a courtyard Image: © ARCHMOSPHERES
  • 01 min watch Timelapse of the Morocco Pavilion’s construction | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    Timelapse of the Morocco Pavilion’s construction Video: Courtesy of OUALALOU + CHOI

Touted to be among the largest of its kind ever built, the rammed earth facade of the Morocco Pavilion at Expo 2020 is designed by Paris and Casablanca-based practice OUALALOU + CHOI. The pavilion will illustrate the relevance of Morocco's indigenous design and construction practices in contemporary contexts. Hosting 14 exhibition spaces, a traditional Moroccan restaurant, a tea room, street food area, event space, office space, and a lounge, the pavilion's spatial organisation within 22 stacked rammed earth volumes visually resonates with the aesthetics of Moroccan villages. These spaces will be ordered around a lush courtyard and linked together by an internal street running throughout the structure's levels. Passive design features and wooden interior finishes, further add to its eco-friendly character as a pioneering work of rammed earth construction. At its core the design strives to push Morocco's traditional architecture to new heights while honouring its rich and varied cultural heritage.

Republic of Korea Pavilion - Mobility District

  • Located in the Mobility District, the Republic of Korea Pavilion features an interactive facade that responds to its surroundings | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    Located in the Mobility District, the Republic of Korea Pavilion features an interactive facade that responds to its surroundings Image: © Expo2020 Korea. All Rights Reserved.
  • The four-storey structure uses a system of rotating cubes that act as a kinetic installation | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
    The four-storey structure uses a system of rotating cubes that act as a kinetic installation Image: © Expo2020 Korea. All Rights Reserved.

Designed by South Korean architecture firm, Mooyuki Architects, the Republic of Korea Pavilion, located in the Mobility District, will feature an exhibition themed - 'Smart Korea, Moving the World to You’. The showcase will depict the country's explorations into the future of mobility - following the integration of virtual reality and technology into today’s hyper-connected society. While promoting South Korea’s culture and brands, along with its industrial competitiveness, the four-storey structure will also display the country's visions for international cooperation. The pavilion features an interactive facade design consisting of rotating cubes that double as a kinetic installation, changing appearance in accordance with its surroundings throughout the day. Spiral aisles woven into the facade system offer vantage points to observe the interior and exterior of the structure simultaneously.

With the stellar list of names contributing to the expo, it promises to be a feast of great architecture | Expo 2020 Dubai | STIRworld
With the stellar list of names contributing to the expo, it promises to be a feast of great architecture Image: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

With numerous global design luminaries such as Foster + Partners and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture involved in bringing its structures into being, this latest world's fair promises to be an enthralling demonstration of architectural innovation and is waiting to welcome the thousands of visitors expected to flock to its grounds later this year.

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