Inside Dubai Expo 2020 pavilion that's now open to public
Published on January 16, 2021 at 16.16
UAE residents and tourists can tour Expo 2020 Dubai’s Terra - The Sustainability Pavilion from January 22 to April 10.
Terra –The Sustainability Pavilion is open to the public from January 22 until April 10. It offers visitors a limited opportunity to be among the first to experience this unique space at the Dubai Expo site.
At an exclusive premiere launched for the media on Saturday, journalists were taken on an immersive experience inside the Sustainability pavilion. — Photos by Neeraj Murali
Terra, which means ‘Planet Earth’, will offer an immersive journey through the wonders of the natural world, including an interactive walk through the roots of the forest, where every footstep affects the ‘wood-wide-web’.
The pavilion was designed by renowned Grimshaw Architects and sets an example for sustainable building design.
Built to be net-zero for both energy and water, it features 1,055 photovoltaic panels arranged on a 130-metre-wide roof canopy and atop a series of ‘Energy Trees’.
While the pavilion highlights the urgency of addressing negative environmental impacts caused by human behaviour, it also offers solutions using ‘humour’ to help future generations break the cycle of consumerism and become agents of change.
One of the first sets that visitors to Terra will encounter is the beauty of the natural world. Designed by Grimshaw Architects, the Sustainability Pavilion is planned to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Green Building Standards.
While net zero water and net zero energy consumption aspirations is what the building endeavours for, it also gives an overview of “how we explore the relationship between nature and people.”
Pointing towards the roof of the building, Sheena Khan, the tour guide for the media who is the Manager - Education, Legacy Development and Impact, says, “There is a giant solar canopy on the top of the pavilion with over 1,000 photovoltaic panels arranged on a 130-metre-wide roof canopy and atop a series of 18 ‘Energy Trees’ that rotate to follow the path of the sun. We’ve also got technology that collects water from the air and a greywater recycling system that aims to reduce water use by up to 75 per cent. It’s a self-sufficient building that is not only self-sufficient for energy but self-sufficient for water. The pavilion also uses cutting-edge water-reduction strategies, water recycling and alternative water sources.”
While the focus is on future generations to become agents of change, it evokes elements of story-telling, and involves the five senses, while highlighting the ‘nature for self’ theory, as visitors go through an emotional journey.
After a walk through time in an Arabian wadi, where cheetahs and mega elephants roamed, visitors are then submerged into unusual – but real – natural environments. Members of the press were invited to go into a forest where they explored the ground into the root network, and discovered what is known as the Wood Wide Web.
Journalists were told about how the trees speak to each other and how they share resources to protect each other, and how they attack each other or attack foes.
The ground below was a subterranean soap opera where environmental messages beamed from tree to tree enhancing the experience. These become increasingly esoteric with blasts of electricity rocketing from different directions. The adept use of digital technology has also been an important element in creating the ambience.
In the next stage, the visitors discover that the threat that faces the natural world comes from human beings.
Khan said, “You are standing underneath the most enormous U-shaped machine. It has a mouth with grinding teeth. We call him the Gnasher."
"Gnasher is a machine of endless consumption, inspired from the fact that everything we use was once a natural resource,” she said.
Journalists were then led to one of the final galleries of the Terra pavilion — the Laboratory of Future Values, which exhibited works for a brighter path moving forward, a hopeful space that offers solutions to challenges.
The Sustainability Pavilion achieves this through some fastidiously worked out futuristic exhibits and exercises.
“The journey is aimed at being thought-provoking in a fun way. Therefore, a storytelling approach has been adopted. Thematic designs have been created to take visitors through appreciation, self-reflection and hope ultimately”, adds Khan.
The sustainability pavilion covers 6,300 sqm and is capable of hosting 4,400 people per hour.
It’s said a new city is set to evolve even with this signature pavilion, even after Expo closes its door, setting an example of sustainability building designs.
Marjan Faraidooni, Chief Experience Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, says, “Terra will become a children and Science centre finally, fully self-sustainable, generating 100 per cent energy and water supply . The building and the experience will continue with its role in advancing the role of environmental science. Terra will enable action towards our biggest challenges. World Expos pride themselves for being a catalyst of change. When you consider what the world has been through recently, Expo 2020 could not have come at a more opportune moment and the theme 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future' could not be more fitting.”
Visitors are urged to book early as the experience will operate five days per week with limited operating hours and capacity restrictions due to enhanced health and safety measures. Pavilions Premiere bookings can be made from January 16 on https://expo2020dubai.com/en/pavilions-premiere. Tickets are priced at Dh25.