Foster + Partners' recyclable desert pavilion
The firm’s 2015 Expo Pavilion has been designed to be rebuilt in the UAE once the show is over
Most architects find it difficult to meet the needs of all parties involved in a single, high-profile site. So one can appreciate the ingenuity of Foster + Partners, whose new Emirates Pavilion will stand in two separate locations.
The UAE’s pavilion for the 2015 Milan Expo will not only accommodate visitors to this northern Italian city in a year’s time. It will also serve a similar role back in the UAE, once the Milan show has finished.
As Lord Foster announced upon unveiling his practice’s plans, “our challenge has been to design for two climates – to create a naturally cool, comfortable space for visitors in Milan, while considering the pavilion’s ultimate reconstruction in the Emirates, where there is a need to provide shade from the intense sun.”
This relocation is intended to highlight Dubai’s Expo in 2020, as well as the ecologically sound nature of the pavilion’s drafting and construction. Foster + Partners explained, “The design reflects our investigations into the form of ancient cities and our appreciation for the desert landscape.”
The pavilion, built for a 140 metre site in Milan, drew from the high walls and courtyards common to many Arabian cities, which offer a great deal of shade from the intense sun. Foster + Partners also took in the natural landscape of the Emirates, scanning local deserts to create the undulating texture of the pavilion walls. The firm says their “construction will utilise materials to represent the different shades of sand across the Emirates.”
Meanwhile, mock irrigation aqueducts, common in the UAE, will carry digital media, “and augmented reality devices help to bring the story of the Emirates to life.”
Foster + Partners hope the pavilion will be given LEED Platinum ecological grading, the highest certification possible, and have incorporated rainwater collection techniques to feed its garden and photovoltaic cells to serve its energy needs. Yet it’s the reusing of a structure commonly conceived as temporary and disposable that really sets this apart.