Architecture – Located in a prominent location at Expo 2020 Dubai, Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion captures energy from sunlight and freshwater from humid air. “Drawing inspiration from complex natural processes like photosynthesis, the dynamic form of the Pavilion demonstrates a new way of living sustainably by generating its own energy and water in a harsh climate.” Explain at Grimshaw Architects.
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The Sustainability Pavilion’s center is a giant Energy Tree consisting of a 135m wide-angled, oval-shaped canopy ‘blossoming’ from a central column. Eighteen smaller E-Trees surround the main building. The E-Forest provides shade and daylighting to the visitors below while harnessing solar energy. The Pavilion is self-sufficient in electricity thanks to more than 6,000 sqm of ultra-efficient mono-crystalline photovoltaic cells embedded in glass panels on the e-trees corollas.
Ranging from 15-18m in diameter, the smaller structures follow the sun in the same manner as a sunflower, rotating 180 degrees throughout the day to maximize the energy yield and increase the efficiency of the solar cells before returning to their original position at night.
Under the Energy Trees, visitors can meander through thriving gardens, winding pathways and shaded enclaves nesting exhibition contents, shaded gathering areas, retail spaces, food and beverage opportunities.
Flora and fauna sourced from the surrounding deserts ― including some species that humans have never cultivated ― thrives in a water-efficient landscape that functions through a series of closed-loop systems designed to filter, supply and recycle water.
The Sustainability Pavilion was designed to reuse 100 percent of the water it uses. The E-Forest canopy also “serves as a large collection area for stormwater and dew replenishing the building’s water system.”
The main exhibition space is located below the ground. It is cased with an insulating earth roof system that creates a substantial barrier to help reduce its cooling loads and conserve energy. The above-ground surfaces are clad with a gabion rain screen wall ― sourced with local stone from the Hajar Mountains – which provides enough thermal mass to absorb the heat while the stone’s natural color reflects the sun.
“When creating a building with a goal of generating its own energy and water in a harsh climate, the solution cannot be driven by a single aspect of the design.” Say at Grimshaw Architects. “To achieve net-zero, the design required a series of technologies, building systems and design solutions to act in unison.”
The Sustainability Pavilion will enjoy a long life after Expo is over, transforming into a science museum and expanding on its mission of exploring sustainable practices and the critical stewardship of our fragile planet.
All photos: courtesy of Grimshaw Architects.