Responding to the harsh climate of Dubai, V8 Architects has designed the Netherlands pavilion as a temporary biotope which works as a harvesting machine, producing energy, water and food for Expo 2020 Dubai.
Designed as a temporary circular climate system, the pavilion includes many sustainable strategies that respond to the local context. Given the expo’s temporary nature, V8 Architects envisioned the pavilion to be circular in design. Built using 2000 tons of steel and sheet pile, the materials were leased locally and will be returned to the local owners. This strategy is also used in the interior finishes, which include bio-textiles and mycelium-based bio-based materials that will be returned to Nature.
V8 Architects explains, “As architects, we found a challenging and fundamental gap between context and brief. In the middle of the desert where scarcity is felt so severe, we were asked to give a meaningful representation of the nexus between water, energy and food solutions.”
“So, we decided to design a harvesting machine, to be able to harvest these three crucial elements and to bring them together in a biotope; where architecture is experienced as a smart fusion between technology (both prototypes and mature solutions) and art.”
Michiel Raaphorst, Architect-director and co-founder of V8 Architects: “The Netherlands pavilion shows the relevance of architecture. It illustrates vital themes such as circularity and potential solutions for water, energy and food issues in a way that is not only technical, but above all also creates an inspiring environment. These are solutions which do not alienate people but which enrich our living environment. We are facing some serious challenges, but the solutions are beautiful and offer hope.”
The pavilion uses SunGlacier technology which will extract 800 litres of water every day from the desert air using solar energy. The harvested water is used for the irrigation of the edible plants on the outside of the cone. Solar energy also plays a big role in the pavilion, using special lightweight, organic, transparent solar cells (OPV). Designed by Marjan van Aubel, the third-generation solar technology features 6 rows of 22-metres long skylights printed on PET and produced in circular manner, making the pavilion self-sustaining. The organic solar panels work in tandem with the food production inside by letting the right light spectrum that edible plants need to grow.
"The pavilion works like a harvesting machine. Visitors go down a slope to the bottom of a 4-metre construction pit excavated in the desert. It is naturally cooler and darker here. The darker, cave-like area is the heart of the food cone and rain falls in the middle. Visual projects and sounds in this space enable visitors to see how the biotope works." Said V8 Architects.
Given the harsh climate of Dubai, the architects wanted to showcase how growing food can be integrated in our built environment. Featuring an 18-metres high green cone, the pavilion will produce dozens of kilos of oyster mushrooms every day. The pavilion uses adiabatic cooling system in the cones chimney, which helps control the temperature, and maintains the moisture required to grow the mushrooms inside.
V8 Architects continues, “Seen from the temporary character of a World Exhibition, we have chosen a radical way of construction. To ensure that we leave our plot behind as a ‘Tabula Rasa’ exactly like we have found it, the harvesting machine is designed and built according to circular principles, using either civil engineering materials (an ode to Dutch traditions) which will be returned to their local owners or bio-based materials which will be returned to Nature. This pragmatic and poetic approach is applied to every aspect of the Netherlands Pavilion, blending enormous sheet piles, steel tubes, delicate textile fabrics, ducts, pipes and tiny leaves of vegetation into an unreferenced architectural generous gesture.”
The Netherlands pavilion is a collaborative process which becomes a prototype for sustainable living. The pavilion showcases how to create synergies between different processes which results in a system that is self-sustaining and leaves no footprint behind at the end of its life cycle.
Commission: Netherlands Pavilion for Expo 2020
Client: Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Netherlands Enterprise Agency
Pavilion construction and main contractor: Expomobilia MCH Live Marketing Solutions AG
Visitor experience: Kossmanndejong
Integrated installation and construction engineering: Witteveen + Bos
Circular principles and climate concept: Aardlab
Circular food system and oyster mushrooms: SIGN
Design solar panels: Marjan van Aubel Studio
Design bio-textile curtain: Buro Belen
Design and production mycelium wall panels and floor tiles: MOGU
Water from air technology: SunGlacier
Programme: Exhibition space, auditorium, VIP lounge, restaurant, shop and back-offices
Floor area: 3727 sq.m.
Design year: 2018
Completion year: 20121
V8 Architects is an architectural firm based in Rotterdam that was founded in 2011 by Rudolph Eilander and Michiel Raaphorst. The firm is known for its characteristic architectural solutions for complex projects. Its solutions always tell the story of their surroundings and add value. Its designs are driven by awareness of contemporary challenges. V8 Architects has a dedicated team that works on commercial projects, homes, public buildings and infrastructure in an international context at various scales. The Netherlands pavilion is an outstanding example of a public building with a future-oriented approach. It is the result of a cross-sector collaboration with young innovations to show concrete solutions for fundamental issues such as water scarcity, food security and the increasing demand for energy.
The 35th universal world exhibition will be held in Dubai from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. It is the first expo to be held in the Middle East. More than 200 participating countries and organisations will be presenting their latest ideas, innovations and technologies under the theme ‘Connecting minds, creating the future’. It is expected to attract millions of visitors.