(CNN) – Located in the heart of the Dubai World Expo site, the pavilion of the host country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), sports one of the most eye-catching designs at an event teeming with architectural wonders.
The four-story structure is covered with 28 carbon fiber wings that can fully open in about three minutes to reveal integrated solar panels. When not in use, the panels remain protected from the elements, including the area’s powerful sandstorms.
“The conceptual framework was based on the inspiration of the grace and strength of a falcon, the national bird of the United Arab Emirates,” says renowned Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava, who designed the pavilion. The wings can be positioned between 110 and 125 degrees, to better absorb sunlight, and the electricity they produce is sent to the main power grid.
Due to the large size and weight of the wings, they open using the power of up to three hydraulic cylinders, which must be precisely synchronized to avoid uneven movements that could crack the structure of the wing itself. same. Calatrava said this aspect of the roof engineering needed special attention.
“A cool and peaceful environment”
With a total area of 161,000 square feet, it is the largest of all of the Expo’s national pavilions and is surrounded on all sides by landscaped areas with plants. The building itself is shaped like a traditional Bedouin tent, centered around a spherical auditorium with a large skylight just above.
Inside the flag of United Arab Emirates.
Palladium Photodesign – Oliver Schuh + Barbara Burg
“Since Expo 2020 takes place in a very hot region, it was important that we create a cool and tranquil environment to provide visitors with respite from the sun,” Calatrava explains. “We were able to achieve this by incorporating large pools of water and trees that naturally cool the air, create shade and reduce reflected heat, making this space a sunken refuge from direct exposure to climatic conditions. extremes. “
Inside, visitors can experience six interactive installations, each depicting a chapter in the nation’s history. One of them, called Crossroads, is based on around 700 physical objects historically traded in the Middle East, such as “mangoes and spinning tops, coffee beans and compasses, perfume bottles and pearls”, and aims to highlight the geographical position of the United Arab Emirates – a crossroads of historic trade routes spanning thousands of years.
The history of the United Arab Emirates is told in the host country’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Calatrava says the guiding principles that inspired the pavilion design and experience align with the Expo’s themes of sustainability and connectivity. “I wanted visitors to have the opportunity to explore the region’s rich history,” he says, as well as its current innovations and future prospects.
Like several other pavilions, this one will be reassigned for cultural purposes once the same event ends in March 2022, and it has received a LEED Platinum certification – the highest rank in the world’s most widely used rating system for green buildings. Calatrava sees the event as an opportunity for architects to champion new solutions for global challenges. “We, along with the architects of the entire exhibition, are showing the world that we can build in a sustainable way,” he says.
“In a sense, we are also exposing our work for others to emulate, as we continue to build for the future.”