Every pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is an immersive, fascinating world unto itself. But whether you visit the exhibition virtually or in person, both the French and Moroccan pavilions are something out of the ordinary. As reflected by the title, L’inspiration à la vitesse de la lumière (Lightspeed Inspiration), light takes centerstage in the first, while in the second, everything revolves around the argan tree, a symbol of the country’s natural and cultural heritage. Here’s a preview of some of the highlights of the French and Moroccan pavilions.
Light is the architectural theme around which the entire French pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai revolves. Featured in multiple forms, it welcomes visitors and then guides them on a journey of discovery of the country, its innovations, its talents, and its resources. The pavilion was designed by Atelier Perez Prado and Celnikier & Grabli Architects, who took their cue from the large pavilions created for universal exhibitions and international events in the past. The designers’ goal was to push the boundaries of traditional buildings by merging matter and light.
The pavilion is entirely surrounded by a metal skin covered with LEDs – a kind of cloak of light that receives and emits images throughout the course of the day and the seasons. The architects have also created a kind of refuge, which protects visitors from the high temperatures of the desert, even while they’re queuing to come inside in the flat area in front of the pavilion.
The building is 69 feet (21 m) high and built on two levels. The floor at ground level, open to everyone, is an immersive, experiential pathway that helps visitors discover the art de vivre à la française – that is, the culture and talents of the country, and its innovations in terms of the UN’s seventeen sustainable development goals. The upper floor, reserved for professionals, will host a range of events, including video screenings, mini-exhibitions, discussions, and workshops, all of which will focus on the seventeen objectives of the 2030 Agenda.
It should also be mentioned that the pavilion, which achieved LEED Gold certification, is completely dismantlable so that it can be reused after the event in any number of ways. From the energy perspective, it produces 60% of the energy it consumes, while various systems are in place to limit the consumption of drinking water and recycle more than 85% of the waste produced.
Morocco’s pavilion, designed by Tarik Oualalou, is made of a material as ancient as it is innovative: raw earth. This is intended as a tribute to the country’s artisan knowhow and its traditional building techniques, which are all more than suitable for the levels of sustainability that contemporary architecture tries to achieve. Raw earth is, in fact, an effective insulator and contributes to cooling buildings. Integrated into the building’s façade, the argan tree, with its recognized cosmetic and nutritional properties, also plays an important role in the pavilion’s design.
The tree was chosen as a symbol of Morocco’s natural and cultural heritage. Endemic to Morocco, it produces argan oil, captures CO2, combats desertification, plays a role in promoting jobs for women, and offers a model of inclusive, sustainable agriculture.
Courtesy of Boegly+Grazia photographers (Sergio Grazia & Luc Boegly)