Architecture – “We wanted to address the Expo motto’ Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ and so we chose to represent Germany as a ‘campus,’ an open place for the exchange of knowledge, ideas and innovations.” said Christian Tschersich, project director of the German-Australian studio LAVA which designed Germany Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. “Rather than placing the buildings horizontally across a site, three suspended cubes are assembled vertically. This loose, porous stacking of volumes, an ensemble rather than a single form, suggests interconnectedness.” 95% of the building will be repurposed after the Expo.
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Inside the pavilion, three cantilevered cubes generate a spacious central atrium for gatherings and events. Each cube features themed exhibitions – Energy Lab, Future City Lab, and Biodiversity Lab – narrating the country’s commitment to a better, shared future through immersive experiences. All three cantilevered structures host terrace exhibitions, inviting for group interaction.
“We incorporated the principle of sustainability right from the start by using the minimum amount of material to create maximum volume.” Indeed, the cubes are stacked on top of a plinth with other functions, including a restaurant, a pre-show, office and a back-of-house. Such a setting creates a large volume at the centre, while a roof provides shade and comfort.
The stacked cubes’ positioning nods to local courtyard houses displays while reducing the impact of direct sunlight, generating natural shade, decreasing the heat load, and optimizing the indoor climate.
A hybrid facade minimises building bulk and creates an iconic framing of the space. A dynamic arrangement of 900 vertical steel poles at the upper level, a forest of trees swaying in the wind, creates movement. Gradually changing angles frame the central atrium space and modulate light.
An opaque, trapezoidal single-layer ETFE membrane can be opened and closed, responsive to different weather conditions to minimise the need for air conditioning. The pavilion’s outer shell also includes 1.5 metres-wide glass elements that can be rotated and opened, allowing the building to breathe.
The visually striking technical cloud roof creates shade and comfort. It allows daylight into the interior through multiple small openings, similar to sunlight penetrating a forest canopy, creating an ever-changing visitor experience. Mirror surfaces reflect direct sunlight against the roof skin, a dynamic interplay of light. A field of LED lights integrated into the ceiling makes the building radiate from within at night.
The transition from hot exterior to inside was carefully considered. To reduce temperature shock and save on energy costs, the architects designed a transitional space where visitors entering the building, with lengthy queues, are cooled by a gentle water mist emanating from steel poles allowing them to acclimatise gradually. The central atrium is cooled by cold air expelled from the air-conditioned exhibition spaces, thereby reducing energy usage and improving visitor comfort.
All photos: courtesy of the Germany Pavilion at Dubai 2020 Expo.