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grimshaw unveils its sustainability pavilion at expo 2020 dubai – Designboom

 
designed by grimshaw, the sustainability pavilion at expo 2020 dubai welcomes visitors underneath a massive tree-like canopy that accommodates more than 6,000 sqm of photovoltaic cells. this is all part of the architect’s vision to demonstrate a new way of living sustainably in a challenging desert environment.
 
called ‘terra’, the sustainability pavilion occupies a prominent site at the long-awaited world expo. surrounding the main building are 19 ‘energy trees’ ranging from 15-18m in diameter, which generate 28% of the energy required to power the pavilion. the structures are inspired by dragon’s blood, a tree found only on socotra, an island 200 miles off the coast of yemen.
grimshaw's sustainability pavilion at expo dubai generates its own energy and water
image © phil handforth
 
 
 
grimshaw has incorporated a series of strategies to make terra net-zero for both energy and water. one of these strategies includes putting most of the program underground, cased with an earth roof system to shield the pavilion from dubai’s sweltering ambient temperatures.
 
the above ground surfaces are clad with a gabion rainscreen wall ― built with local stone sourced from the hajar mountains ―, which provides enough thermal mass to absorb the heat while the stone’s natural color reflects the sun.
 
as well as generating solar energy, the large canopy also provides shade and natural light to visitors below. the form of the canopy works with the courtyard to direct cool air in, while simultaneously exhausting low-lying hot air through a chimney effect at the center. the canopy also serves as a large collection area for stormwater and dew that replenishes the building’s water system. 
grimshaw's sustainability pavilion at expo dubai generates its own energy and water
image © phil handforth
 
 
the culmination of the building’s systems can be found in the heart of the pavilion, its large exterior courtyard. borrowing from the vernacular of the region, the courtyard provides a large, passively cooled space for visitors. 
 
there’s also a landscape of demonstration gardens, winding pathways and shaded enclaves around the pavilion. the gardens are both experiential and functional, providing shaded gathering areas, space for exhibitions, retail, and food and beverage.
 
the gardens and planted roofs utilize flora and fauna sourced from the surrounding deserts, which are arranged to create a water-efficient landscape that functions through a series of closed-loop systems designed to filter, supply and recycle water. 
grimshaw's sustainability pavilion at expo dubai generates its own energy and water
image © phil handforth
 
 
inside, terra hosts over 6,000 sqm of exhibition space designed by new york-based studio thinc. after the expo, the building will be transformed into a science museum, expanding on its mission of exploration and education for sustainable practices.
 
read designboom’s interview with tom hennes, thinc’s founder and creative director, and marjan faraidooni, chief experience officer of expo 2020 dubai here.
grimshaw's sustainability pavilion at expo dubai generates its own energy and water
image © phil handforth
 
 
project info:
 
name: terra / the sustainability pavilion
architecture: grimshaw
exhibition design: thinc
event: expo 2020 dubai
event dates: october 1, 2021 – march 31, 2022
photography: phil handforth, tom hennes
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