Expo 2020 Dubai is gearing up to open in October 2021. This multi-national event will bring together ideas to improve societies and the environment. The Netherlands is participating with a pavilion that will display the ability to harvest water, energy and food through innovative technologies, including a cone-shaped vertical farm beneath colorful solar panels. Marjan van Aubel, a Dutch designer with several solar-based innovations under her belt, was selected to design the solar roof for the Netherlands Pavilion at the expo. 

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rendering of pavilion with glass wall revealing vertical farm inside

The designer’s work is more than simply piecing together solar panels. With artistic flair, the lightweight, organic transparent solar cells (OPV) are installed with the effect of skylights. A colorful pattern reflects throughout the space, which is intriguing for visitors while illuminating the natural features inside the pavilion.

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rendering of cone-shaped vertical farm inside a pavilion with colorful solar roof
rendering person using ladder to climb vertical farm

“Beauty is powerful. For the World Expo 2020 I combine solar technology with aesthetics to realise the Netherlands pavilion’s solar roof,” van Aubel said. “The aim is to show new ways in which solar can be seamlessly integrated into a space.”

vertical farm under construction beneath colorful solar roof
colorful solar panels shining light on vertical farm below

Because there will be a vertical farm below, van Aubel designed the solar skylights to filter through the exact range of light for plant growth and optimal health. The panels will also power the needs of the pavilion. 

“Not only does the solar roof power the Dutch biotope, it also filters Dubai’s sunlight to ensure the right spectrum of light enters the biotope for the plants to photosynthesise,” she explained.

close-up of colorful solar panels
person holding thin, transparent solar panel with graphic design pattern

The pavilion is made from locally sourced materials, and van Aubel followed suit with organic, non-toxic options in her material selection for the solar panels. Additionally, the panels can be removed and reused at another site. She hopes the work not only represents the function of solar and the innovations within the field but presents the realization that function can exist hand-in-hand with art and beauty as represented with the Moiré effect in her chosen graphic design.

+ Marjan van Aubel Studio

Images via Marjan van Aubel Studio