The German Pavilion at Expo 2020, Dubai resembles an ensemble of suspended cubes, responding to the local climate and integrating smart sustainable strategies, promoting social sustainability through its design. Conceptualised by global practice, Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA) — the approach for the German pavilion’s design has been described as a tool to connect people. The pavilion’s volumes are stacked vertically, creating porous space, and internally allowing movement and connectivity.
The porous space generates a central atrium for the events and forms the heart of the pavilion. Easy wayfinding and connectivity are central to this design and create diverse visual relationships and access points. This is further driven by LAVA’s philosophy of seeing the whole building as an exhibit, not just a container of spaces.
As people reach the top, they enter a forest of steel poles, covered by a large floating roof. The space encourages interaction among people and the chance to enjoy vistas out to the expo site.
The pavilion provided LAVA with an opportunity to showcase sustainable strategies that respond to the local climate of Dubai. Central to this is the resource consumption and circular design principles — using the minimum amount of material to create maximum volume.
The cubes provide natural shade to the pavilion, reducing the impact of direct sunlight — decreasing heat load and optimising the indoor climate. The architects describe the pavilion as a sandwich of three parts: landscape – stacked cubes – roof. People between nature and technology.
"The key question was how to design a temporary exhibition and event space for up to three million visitors in a desert environment that was sustainable. LAVA’s solution linked the Expo theme of connectedness, with our approach of ‘more with less’, with humans interacting with Nature and technology at its heart,” said Tobias Wallisser, director of LAVA.
The pavilion is fitted with an opaque, trapezoidal single-layer ETFE membrane which can be opened and closed, responding to the local climate conditions, minimising the air conditioning usage, which is described as a type of Hybrid air conditioning. This functions in combination with glass panels that can be rotated and opened, allowing flexibility to regulate the building’s climate.
“The pavilion is an efficiently stacked volume of space, responding to the local environment with an intelligent climate management system. This project shows how buildings can be optimised, made intelligent, be reconfigured, and at the same time can adapt to changing users, environments, temperatures, acoustics, and light,” said Alexander Rieck, Director, LAVA. The pavilion has been designed for disassembly, with 95% of the structure being repurposed after the Expo. LAVA describes its approach as bottom-up, focusing on visitor comfort.
“At LAVA we’re always looking at the interaction between people and the physical environment they inhabit. Sustainability requires that environments are adaptable and changeable,” added Wallisser.
The pavilion is expected to host up to three million people during the Expo and their comfort is the main driving force behind this project. Visitor experience and environmental concerns are addressed through this clever multi-performative design, placing people between Nature and technology.
Name of Project: German Pavilion Expo 2020
Ministry: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action
Management: Koelnmesse GmbH
Location: Dubai, UAE
Client consortium: facts and fiction with NUSSLI ADUNIC
Status: Built 2021
Size: 4,600m2; building height 27 m
Concept design, planning and implementation: facts and fiction / NUSSLI
Structural engineers: Schlaich bergermann partner
Reuse: Certain Measures
Light: Kardorff Ingenieure
Drawings: © facts and fiction | NUSSLI Adunic| LAVA
Image credits: © Taufik Kenan; © Roland Halbe; © facts and fiction NUSSLI Adunic photographer Andreas Keller
Award-winning international practice LAVA was founded in 2007 by directors, Tobias Wallisser, Alexander Rieck and Chris Bosse and was the 2016 European Architecture Laureate. LAVA combines digital workflow, nature"s structural principles and the latest digital fabrication technologies to build MORE WITH LESS: more (architecture) with less (material/energy/time/cost).
Interdisciplinary creative agency facts and fiction conceives, designs and realises innovative analogue and digital projects with a focus on expo pavilions, museums and exhibitions, events, participative and individualised experiences. They developed the pavilions of Germany, Monaco, Belgium and Jordan for 2020 Dubai.
Swiss construction company NUSSLI delivers construction engineering and project management worldwide, realising structures for events and complex facilities including grandstands, stages, event structures, stadiums, pavilions, museums and show rooms, and interior design solutions.