Expo 2020 is a World Fair being hosted in Dubai, originally scheduled to begin in Autumn 2020, but due to the global pandemic, rescheduled to run for six months, October 2021 -March 2022.It is for this reason that it kept its name as Expo 2020 despite it actually beginning 12 months later.

Each participating country has its own unique pavilion. The UK’s contribution is the brainchild of artist and designer Es Devlin, conceived to be an ‘expression of the ideal of a culturally diverse Britain’. The design is a conical cross-laminated timber pavilion, with a visually striking display of AI-generated poems during the global event. The pavilion was developed by Devlin in partnership with structural engineers Atelier One, environmental design consultants Atelier Ten, executive architects Veretec and creative agency Avantgarde.

Each of the anticipated twenty-five million visitors to the Expo over its six-month tenure will be invited to donate a word at the pavilion’s ‘mouthpiece’. These donated words will be selected to be collectively illuminated in Arabic and English, with a new poem generated every minute by a machine-learning algorithm called GPT-2.

There is no exhibit inside in the pavilion, allowing the focus to remain on the structure of the building and the meaning of the poetry. Instead, visitors will encounter a curved void with LED-tile covered walls that also display the donated words. This is harmonised with a soundscape, recorded by multicultural choirs from across the UK.

To illuminate the pavilion, an array of solutions from leading LED lighting specialist Tryka have been utilised. These include thousands of metres of Tryka’s linear LED offering Continuity T and Continuity S, in varying colour temperatures and watts per metre. Tryka’s Continuity range is IP67-rated, ensuring it can withstand the extreme weather conditions experienced in Dubai. Other Tryka solutions found in the UK pavilion include the Comfy fixed circular spotlight, with a black-coated reflector and trim, in 3000K and a high CRI95. Complete with a DALI driver, the Comfy solution effortlessly combines aesthetics with usability.

There are several design elements that aim to make the temporary structure as sustainable as possible. These include the use of the cross-laminated timber rather than concrete or steel to lessen its environmental impact. The use of LED lighting also reduces the structure’s carbon emissions so Expo 2020 has been designed with the environment and a sustainable agenda in mind.

The Expo is the latest World Expo – international exhibitions that showcase architecture and innovation by countries from all over the world and take place every five years. The UK contribution is a conical illuminated structure transmitting a message of multicultural harmony which will not be forgotten.

Additional Design

Designer: Es Devlin
Distributor: True Light Trading Company LLC
Engineer: Trinity Engineering Services LLC
Project management firm: MACE
Structural Engineer: Atelier One


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