Architecture – CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota Building Office, with Matteo Gatto and F&M Ingegneria unveiled Italy Pavilion at Dubai Expo, bringing together sustainability and the most advanced digital technologies. The experimental architecture “deals with what I believe is architecture’s most important challenge today: advancing the double convergence between the natural and the artificial.” Says Carlo Ratti.
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The building was conceived with Reusing and Circularity in mind. Temporary pavilions usually end up as landfills after just a few months, says at CRA. Contrary to that approach, the team conceived a building that is able to transform itself through time in a sustainable fashion. “The Pavilion keeps mutating into different forms. It speaks about reconfigurability both in the long term, because of its circularity, and in the short term, thanks to its use of digital technologies.” Adds Carlo Ratti.
The roof consists of three real-sized boat hulls, which could potentially set sail after the event. The hulls refer to the historical connections between the Italian and Arabian Peninsulas, thus hinting at the themes of both Italy’s participation in the Expo – Beauty Connects People – and Expo Dubai 2020 as a whole – Connecting minds, creating the future.
Instead of traditional walls, the facade is made of recycled nautical rope using the equivalent of roughly two million plastic bottles. The curtain incorporates LEDs that can be lit to transform the facade into a multimedia surface. The intricate vertical meshwork and a localized cooling system integrated with misting allow for extensive shading, natural ventilation, and better thermal comfort – an alternative to air conditioning.
Visitors enter the Italian Pavilion’s interior path via an escalator that takes them to a skywalk suspended 11 meters above ground level, right below the first hull’s nave. From this panoramic point, they can overlook the entire Pavilion from a walkway that floats above the exhibition spaces and installations. Among the main spatial features are the Belvedere, a round structure topped by a dome covered by wild herbs of the Mediterranean maquis, which evokes Renaissance gardens.
Here, spirulina microalgae, cultivated by renewable energy company TOLO Green, enables the ecological treatment of air through the biofixation of the carbon dioxide emitted by visitors. The path also includes an Innovation Space dedicated to technological research, the Second Sun and Second Moon digital installations by Enel X, which create a crescendo of light effects closely linked to the visitors’ emotions in real-time. The Theatre of Memory features a 3D-printed copy of Michelangelo’s David. On the ground floor is the Solar Coffee Garden, a cafe designed by CRA and Italo Rota for leading coffee company Lavazza.
All photos by Michele Nastasi – Courtesy of CRA – Carlo Ratti Associati, unless stated otherwise.