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United Arab Emirates - Expo Milano 2015

United Arab Emirates at the Exhibition Expo Milano 2015
© Philippe Lemaire
Architect(s) : Foster + Partners

The architecture of the pavilion uses the planning principles of a traditional desert town, within the pavilion shaded streets evoke the experience of ancient UAE communities, while demonstrating the efficiency of natural energy.

The pavilion occupies a large area, and draws visitors into its canyon-like entrance, defined by two 12-metre high undulating walls.
Influenced by ancient planning principles, the paths through the pavilion are evocative of the streets and courtyards of ancient desert cities with their narrow pedestrian streets - and its contemporary reinterpretation designed by Foster + Partners.

The walls continue across the 140 metre long site in a series of parallel waves, unifying the spaces in a dynamic formal language designed to express the ridges and texture of the sand dunes.
To convey a distinctive sense of place, the texture of the walls represents the undulations of the desert sand.
Fibreglass-reinforced concrete panels are supported by a steel frame, which can be easily dismantled and rebuilt for the eventual relocation of the pavilion to the United Arab Emirates.

A ramp leads gently up from the entrance to the auditorium, where augmented reality devices help bring the history of the UAE to life.
The auditorium is located in a "drum" at the heart of the site.
Inside, a short film, "Family Tree", follows a young girl, Sara, who learns that the values and experiences of past generations can help us in our quest for a sustainable future.
The mini-drama highlights water scarcity and celebrates the role of the date palm in sustaining life in the Emirates during difficult times.
This very special tree offers a window into traditional life in the 1960s and reveals the amazing development that has taken place in the UAE in just over 40 years.

At the end of the screening, visitors are led into an interactive holographic theatre space: "Future Talk" uses the latest technology to tell the story of Sara's plea for help from her family to the public to complete her school project.
Sara uses what she has just learned from her ancestors as an inspiration to make the necessary commitment to change her daily life in the hope of changing the lives of the visitors.

After the screening, visitors follow a path through other interactive and digital displays, including presentations of the upcoming 2020 World Expo in Dubai.
At the end of the exhibition visitors follow paths that lead them to a green oasis.
The landscaping around the pavilion and in the open public areas is designed to evoke the terrain and flora of the UAE.

The design follows the principles of LEED certification with a combination of passive and active techniques.
Most importantly, the building is designed to be recycled and rebuilt in the UAE after the Expo.