Designed by Toronto-based practice Moriyama & Teshima Architects and construction company ElisDon, the Canadian Pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai aims to bridge the two cultures by echoing Canada’s landscapes and incorporating Arabic architectural elements with its wooden lattice facade a reference to the traditional Mashrabiya. Accompanying the pavilion is the art installation Traces created by Montréal-based firm KANVA, which brings a poetic reflection on the uncertainty of the future of ecosystems to the exhibition grounds.
The pavilion highlights Canada’s performances in sectors like technology, aerospace, artificial intelligence, but also education and tourism, acting as a platform for business and international connections. Architecture practice KANVA was commissioned to design an installation for the Plaza leading up to the pavilion that would reflect both Canada’s contribution to the Expo and this edition’s overarching themes. Continuing the landscape theme that informs the pavilion’s design, the installation reflects on habitat degradations through the “fossilization of an inhabited landscape”, raising awareness over the threats faces by ecosystems worldwide.
The concept for TRACES began with the location of the Canada Pavilion in the sustainability section of the Expo grounds, and with the main exhibition being inspired by Canadian landscapes and natural diversity. We wanted to create something that would emphasize the threats that climate change and global warming pose to those same landscapes, and more specifically, to the species that inhabit them - Rami Bebawi, a KANVA partner and lead architect of the TRACES project.
The project consists of eight museum boxes containing the appearance of fossilized birds. As visitors move towards the entry hall, multimedia interactions developed with artist Étienne Paquette complement the experience. The installation features various moments underlining specific aspects and appealing to a diverse array of emotions. Referring to the damage of landscapes, architect Olga Karpova says, “they are simply erased from memory, and our collective amnesia allows us to persist in their destruction. TRACES reinterprets that cycle by fossilizing the species to ensure that it is not forgotten.”