The pavilion is a biotope – a miniature world with its own cycle. This temporary, circular climate system exists through a combination of unique innovations. The pavilion showcases experimental solutions to major issues of water scarcity, energy transition and food shortages on a life-sized scale model. Only united water, energy and food solutions can help the world achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In this way, the pavilion acts as a catalyst to inspire the world to change.
Expo 2020 Dubai (UAE)
How can we make it rain in the desert? How can we use natural resources already present to provide food? These are just two questions that this pavilion answers. Kossmanndejong developed a multisensory experience in which visitors can discover the Netherlands’ innovation and ambition. Every day, the pavilion harvests 800 liters of water from the desert air to manufacture rain. It’s raining stories, innovations and possibilities in the pavilion.
The visitor experience reinforces the factory metaphor of the pavilion’s architecture. Everything breathes the atmosphere of a fresh, future industry. There is a control room with monitors and there are orange carts and wheelbarrows that act as mobile umbrella stands. On the ramps, you hear sounds of steel and Dutch innovations, such as the ‘swoosh’ of windmill blades. Inside, puffs of mist from the evaporative cooling evoke a steam engine. The hosts wear blue overalls because they are the workers who help keep this factory running.
Visitors’ five senses will be spoiled for choice – though not all at once. We strategically emphasize certain senses in concert with the pavilion’s architecture. Sounds pique visitors’ curiosity. The temperature gradually shifts from hot to cool. Visitors can smell oyster mushrooms and taste the plants that grow on the central cone. The rusted steel begs to be touched. Scents recreate the smells of Dutch soil. When they exit the cone, visitors see the biotope covered in plants for the first time. This sensory experience unlocks the visitors’ imaginations, encouraging them to speculate what a circular system can be and achieve.
After an introduction to the pavilion’s central theme of ‘uniting water, energy and food’ in the control room, the visitor journey in the central cone builds to a climax in the form of a multimedia experience that Kossmanndejong developed with BIND film. A wondrous narrative projects onto white umbrellas about the pavilion’s technical innovations that transform the harsh desert climate into a fertile ecosystem. The journey’s pinnacle is a miraculous rainfall that suddenly pours from 18 meters high. Carefully orchestrated theatrical lighting and penetrating music combine to enhance the pavilion’s storytelling and its emotional resonance.
As if it were a mirage, the pavilion will disappear from the desert when the Expo concludes. Located in the Expo’s Sustainability District, the Netherlands Pavilion’s designers wanted to create a temporary structure that left little to no trace once dismantled. The pavilion’s construction materials are either reusable, recyclable or biodegradable. Builders leased local steel and will return it for use in future projects in the UAE. The factory workers wear clothes made of recycled denim and will reuse the material for future clothing. We believe it is our role as communicators and designers to help people imagine a better future. We are therefore honoured to communicate the story of the Netherlands Pavilion to its visitors.
Big 5 Impact Awards 2021
Sustainable Construction Project of the year, winner