Self-sufficient attraction will become permanent museum in Dubai after world fair
Grimshaw Architects’ much anticipated sustainability pavilion has opened to visitors at the pandemic-delayed Expo 2020 in Dubai.
The other-worldly attraction features a canopy with more than 6,000 sq m of ultraefficient monocrystalline photovoltaic cells embedded in glass panels.
They are a core part of the pavilion’s mission to demonstrate the potential for a building to be completely self-sufficient – generating its own power, cooling and water with an on-site water recycling and waste system – in the 50-degree heat of Dubai.
The pavilion – named Terra – is due to become a permanent research institute when Expo 2020 concludes at the end of March next year. The world fair was originally due to open in October last year but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Expo also features a range of new buildings by Hopkins Architects, which masterplanned a swathe of the site. The UK Pavilion was designed by Es Devlin.
Grimshaw said the sustainability pavilion aimed to “illuminate the ingenuity and possibility of architecture” as society looks to intelligent strategies for future sustainable living.
It said the building drew inspiration from complex natural processes like photosynthesis, with its dynamic form capturing energy from sunlight and fresh water from humid air.
The pavilion is surrounded by 19 “Energy Trees” that support photovoltaic arrays of up to 18m in diameter and which provide more than a quarter of the energy needed to power the pavilion.
Grimshaw said the E-Trees were designed to be deployable freestanding shade structures that harvested the sun’s energy. They have been constructed from steel and complex composites to support large arrays, which follow the sun throughout the day like the heads of sunflowers.
The architect said the Terra project had been five years in the making and its exhibition and landscape had been developed with long-term collaborators the Eden Project.
Grimshaw worked with Dubai-based architect Rice Perry Ellis and engineer Buro Happold to deliver the pavilion. Landscape architect was Desert Ink.