The construction and textiles industries are two of the most targeted industries for creating waste, toxins and carbon emissions. Innovation in both industries move towards a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable focus. Recently unveiled at Expo 2020 Dubai, i-Mesh is an artistic and creative approach to dealing with hot climates like in the Middle East.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos
A woven canopy above an open hallway

i-Mesh is a lightweight, breathable material made in Italy. The new fabric is a product of a start-up company by the same name. For the Dubai Expo, designer Werner Sobek used the material to build an eye-catching and functional canopy that creates a screen between the ground and the sky in the primary walkways of the Expo. 

Related: Reclaimed wood raft features an origami paper canopy 

The canopy folded back to reveal the open sky

Although a textile, it’s being dubbed with the moniker of soft architecture. Stronger than typical fabrics, it will stand up to sun, wind and even sandstorms. The structure at Expo 2020 Dubai is the largest retractable canopy ever built thanks to the innovative i-Mesh material

The canopies looking from the top, covering the landscape

“The Dubai Shade Structures perfectly embody the combination of lightweight construction, innovation and design that we seek out in all our projects,” Werner Sobek said. 

A close up of the woven texture and the way it is easily foldable

While i-Mesh allows natural light to filter through during the day, it reflects the heat to offer a reprieve on hot days. At night, the fabric transforms into a projection screen by illuminating distinctive patterns on the material called mashrabiya, a latticework traditionally used in the architecture of Arab countries. 

The woven canopy with light filtering through it

Developed as an architectural material designed to meet a variety of weather-related conditions, i-Mesh’s mission is to provide customizability and minimal waste. The production method limits cutoff waste to 3% compared to the standard textile waste of 25%. The company reports i-Mesh can be removed, stored and reinstalled endlessly, for an advantage over disposable materials. At the end of the life, however, the material is recyclable. According to the website, “The material is made of just two components: fiber and resin. The resin has a thermoplastic origin, therefore both components can be separated and reused.” 

The woven canopy stretched on above a hallway

This is the first time that a start-up has been awarded an order in Expo project.

+ Werner Sobek

Images via Werner Sobek