The Netherlands Pavilion, also referred to as ‘The Dutch Biotope’, at the Dubai Expo 2020 is designed as a closed-loop system, where water is harvested from the air, featuring an 18-metre tall vertical farming cone, utilising solar power to run the pavilion. Envisaged as a biotope, the pavilion aims to be more than just a building, showcasing real, sustainable solutions for our cities.
The pavilion has been designed by V8 Architects, who collaborated with Dutch designer, Marjan van Aubel to design a colourful solar panel roof. She has combined cutting edge technology with design and material research to create a solar panel of the future.
Van Aubel wanted to break away from the image of solar panels, which are synonymous with sizeable dark panels and explore the role of colours and materials to make the solar panel more accessible. Her work explores the idea of adding another dimension to solar panels, giving them a facelift, one where energy generation also adds aesthetic value to the buildings.
“Beauty is powerful. For the World Expo 2020, I combine solar technology with aesthetics to realise the Netherlands pavilion’s solar roof. The aim is to show new ways in which solar can be seamlessly integrated into a space,” said Marjan van Aubel.
This is made possible using organic photovoltaic cells printed on transparent panels allowing flexibility and customisation in any colour. Utilising ASCA® organic transparent solar cells, a third-generation solar technology has been created which produces light-weight panels that are circular in nature and could be reused after the end of Dubai Expo 2020. Given their lightweight nature, it makes them easily transportable. They are designed in such a way that they can be easily taken apart and reassembled. The panels let the light needed for growing crops inside the pavilion and rest is absorbed for generating power. The coloured pattern on the solar panel is the result of Moire effect, where lines and patterns interact with each other to create beautiful light reflection inside the pavilion, giving it the contemplative quality.
Van Aubel explains, “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.”
“I envision a future in which all objects are autonomous and can power themselves through solar design,” she adds.
The Dutch Biotope showcases how technologies can complement the natural world and rather than becoming obstacle, provide opportunities for integration. The integration of aesthetics within the solar panels provides opportunity to integrate thin film solar panels in innovative ways beyond the roof surfaces to generate energy.
Expo 2020 is scheduled to run from 1 October 2021 – 31 March 2022.
Marjan van Aubel is a Dutch award-win-ning solar designer who seamlessly inte-grates solar power into our environments such as in buildings and objects. Van Aubel's most notable works are "Current Table!#and "Power Plant!; she also recently launched her first solar design product, ‘Sunne’ - a solar light that mimics the sun. Her work is part of permanent collections of museums such as MoMA New York, the V&A London and Boijmans van Beuningen in the Netherlands, to name but a few. She has collaborated with global brands such as Cos, Timberland and Swarovski with the aim of accelerating global energy transition to solar.