The proposal for the French pavilion for the Dubai 2020 Expo is intended as a device to enhance, at the same time, the virtual world and the real one, two supports for human communication, cultures and interactions. Built around the themes of Light (as a display and as a vector of ideas and philosophy) and Mobility, the pavilion seeks to interpret them within a sustainable and a one-off building.
The management of all types of fluxes inside the building, the formal clarification of the program as well as the monumental facade reminiscent of a typical Republican building, are the consequences of a long rational history. But to be « French » should also be about looking into the future with hope and determination to make it better. Testimony of the current industrial and digital revolution, the project convenes a local approach within a global challenge. The design intent is structured around seven main considerations:
1 – Thinking program not casing: too often pavilions are just decorated supermarkets designed to sell. We propose a pavilion that reflects architecture as a process and a medium of expression, not a fashion decision.
2 – Being noticeable: a world expo is a place of artificial wonders not unlike a Disneyland for architecture. We designed the core of the pavilion as a big magnet capable of attracting visitors from far away.
3 –Addressing the context: The form of the pavilion is the result of its climate conditions. Both sun and wind direction decided the position of the the magnet-like wall. First of all facing south to protect the parvis, and then extruded and transformed into two facing walls acting as funnel to catch the wind’s freshness.
4 – Managing the queue: once created, the wind funnel was the perfect place for people to wait, in the shade enjoying the wind flow. To enhance this comfort we proposed that the two walls be fully covered in vegetation, transforming this place in a protected and unexpected oasis.
5 – Engaging the public : the outside wall acts as a spectacular screen (27×60 meters) for projections at night, while the inside walls are transform into a fully artificial vertical garden. Digital projection and tangible vegetation in one place.
6 – Structuring with the fluxes: the pavilion needs to be as respectful as possible to the demands of the client, both in terms of efficiency and adaptability,
7 – A Light pavilion: finally the list of demands, limitations, comfort and ambitions come together to make a pavilion truly representative of a country and its philosophy of design.
Reflecting French Architecture
The spectacular screen-like facade of the pavilion is designed to leave an indelible mark on people’s mind, by day and by night. During the daytime, it acts as a solar protection shielding the entrance plaza with its long shadow and displaying a huge clear stone wall, turning translucent in the evening, thus showing off the beauty and warmness of back lit stones. By nighttime, the screen comes alive, displaying paintings, landscapes and video art for everyone to see from the concourse and from the public terrace of the pavilion.
Light creates a new feeling for the architecture and encourages proximity and discussion. As the visitors will passively absorb the endless flows of digital advertising or interact alone with a handheld device, the pavilion will engage them and create new windows on the world for everyone to look through, together.
Framing the Sky
In this strange place, created by the accumulation of various and autonomous objects, that is a world’s fair ; we wanted to introduce something of a complex ecosystem, in total autonomy, an artificial nature that is luxuriant, immersive and spectacular : two vertical gardens facing one another.
The beauty of the place arises from the dichotomy between the desert, endless horizontal line, and the verticality of the dense vegetation framing the sky. Here, the visitors envy the sky and the great heights of Dubai while being protected inside this hidden oasis, away from the burning rays of the sun and into a fresh cave-like garden. Source by Clément Blanchet Architecture with Etienne Tricaud (AREP).
- Location: Dubai, UAE
- Architect: Clément Blanchet Architecture with Etienne Tricaud (AREP)
- Project Team: Clément Blanchet, Etienne Tricaud, Alan Murray, Arthur Gaudenz, Frederic Mallet, Doan Duc, Arthur Adam
- Engineering: MAP3 Ingénierie, TERRELL, Franck Boutté Consultants
- Landscape architect: Michel Desvignes
- Expert consultant: Vinci Construction Grands Projets, Les Eclaireurs
- Model: Hervé Cadestin
- Renderings / moving images: Plomp
- Client: COFREX
- Program: 4,000m2 (exhibition, co-working, offices, bars, restaurants, shops…)
- Status: proposal
- Images: Courtesy of Clément Blanchet Architecture