United Arab Emirates Pavilion 2020
Thijs Wolzak

United Arab Emirates Pavilion

Kossmanndejong as Interior Architects

Kossmanndejong and Tellart co-designed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Host Pavilion’s guest experience. As the Expo’s central pavilion, the UAE pavilion acts as the expo’s beating heart. The design weaves Emirati traditions, values, landscapes, and dreams to tell an inspiring story about the UAE’s evolution. These components form the connective tissue that bonds guests with the UAE and the Emirati ‘Dreamers Who Do’.

photo_credit Thijs Wolzak
Thijs Wolzak

Oasis

The pavilion’s Oasis extends a traditional, yet modern Emirati welcome to our guests while they wait to enter the pavilion. The Falaj, a water irrigation system, is the focal point of the Oasis. The pavilion’s Falaj is a modern interpretation of the traditional irrigation system. This immediately introduces guests to the UAE’s embrace of tradition and innovation, past and future. As a meeting place, the falaj also introduces guests to each other. This shared experience begins to nurture a sense of community that will continue throughout the guests’ journey.

photo_credit Thijs Wolzak
Thijs Wolzak
photo_credit Thijs Wolzak
Thijs Wolzak

Desert of Dreams

The Desert of Dreams presents a sensory journey through the UAE’s incredible 50-year transformation from a nomadic lifestyle to the present. To transcend language barriers, we communicated this story through powerful visual metaphors. Guests begin their journey surrounded by sand dunes. By the end, sand evolves into glass as guests emerge among grid-like glass structures to reference the UAE’s rapid urbanization. Heightened by lighting, sounds, images, and smells, the Desert of Dreams creates an evocative space for guests to imagine and dream of the UAE’s future transformations.

photo_credit Thijs Wolzak
Thijs Wolzak
photo_credit Thijs Wolzak
Thijs Wolzak

Dreaming Together

After leaving the Desert of Dreams, guests enter the Pearl – a dome theater with wide-angle projection and spatialized audio. The theater’s floor rises while guests watch a captivating animated film about the development from the nomadic Bedouins to today’s city dwellers. The film’s emotional resonance literally and figuratively lifts the guests. Together, the guests emerge into the brightly-lit Oculus. This final, awe-inspiring space reminds guests that the UAE is the ‘Land of Dreamers Who Do’.

photo_credit Thijs Wolzak
Thijs Wolzak
photo_credit Thijs Wolzak
Thijs Wolzak

Architectural Harmony

Kossmanndejong and Tellart leveraged the Calatrava building’s spatial properties to shape the UAE pavilion’s guest experience. The dark and lower space in the basement transforms into a vast desert landscape and provides intimate, human-scale moments. In the pavilion’s final space, daylight pours into the building’s monumental dome, imbuing the room and visitors alike with a sense of hope for the future. Throughout the guests’ journey, architecture and scenography work in synchroneity to heighten guests’ emotional connection to, and understanding of, the UAE.

photo_credit Thijs Wolzak
Thijs Wolzak
photo_credit Thijs Wolzak
Thijs Wolzak
photo_credit Thijs Wolzak
Thijs Wolzak
photo_credit Thijs Wolzak
Thijs Wolzak
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