At the heart of this year's Milan Expo sits the curvaceous, desert-inspired pavilion for the United Arab Emirates. Created by Foster + Partners, the design features dune-like walls and a bevy of sustainable features that make it an exciting stop at the expo. The interior is designed in a way that is reminiscent of traditional desert villages, and each visitor is given an iPad to help them learn about and find features of the pavilion.
Using LEED principles, Foster + Partners made a pavilion that combines passive and active technology to create a sustainable space and when the expo is over the entire structure can be disassembled and recycled. The pavilion also features carbon dioxide absorbing materials to add to its sustainable footprint.
When visitors arrive at the pavilion, they are drawn into the interior of the space by two canyon-like 12-meter high walls. Once inside, a ramp augmented with digital aqueducts – which represent traditional irrigation aqueducts found in desert cities – guides visitors to a second-level auditorium. The walls of the pavilion were created by scanning and printing the sandy texture of dunes to create an authentic sense of wandering through the desert.
Solar panels provide energy and rain catchment and a green roof provide sustainability, but concern about the environmental impact of the pavilion began before construction ever started. In order to lower the carbon footprint of the planning stage, all designs and planning communication took place through digital mediums to reduce the need for travel. In order to address the Expo’s theme of feeding the planet, traditional Emirati food is served to guests as they exit the pavilion.
Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat