First Look into Expo 2020 Dubai: 6 Must See National Pavilions

First Look into Expo 2020 Dubai: 6 Must See National Pavilions

After a year delay due to the worldwide pandemic, October 1st saw the inauguration of one of the most anticipated events of the year; the Expo 2020 in Dubai. The event, which is being held for the first time in the Middle East, focuses on architecture, culture, and innovation, with over 191 national participants. The pavilions on display are divided into three districts: Mobility, Sustainability, and Opportunity, each showcasing how their country has contributed and will contribute to its respective theme. In addition to the national pavilions, each district has its own thematic pavilion: the Sustainability Pavilion “Terra” by Grimshaw, the Mobility Pavilion “Alif” by Foster + Partners, and the Opportunity Pavilion “Mission Possible” by AGi Architects.

Read on to discover 6 must-see national pavilions of each district that explored their designated theme in a unique and captivating way. 

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Mobility District

Text description provided by Expo 2020 Dubai: We live in a world of limitless connections. Explore horizons that drive human progress, as mobility continues to transform the way we live, connect with people, understand different cultures, and exchange knowledge and ideas. The Mobility District creates connections to drive the world forward, breaking down the divide between the physical and digital worlds to build a harmonious, global society where information, ideas and goods are exchanged faster than ever before.


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Belgian Pavilion. Image © Dima Stouhi

Titled "The Green Arch", the Belgian pavilion at the 2020 Dubai Expo highlights the emergence of connected green cities through its industrial, technological, and scientific knowledge. Belgium's urban planning prospects include creating smart mobility systems for the future, so the pavilion displays the country's visions for the year 2050, based on today's creative innovations of smart, clean, and secure mobility. The pavilion is designed by Belgian architects ASSAR ARCHITECTS and Vincent Callebaut Architectures and is conceptualized by Belgian international contractors BESIX and Vanhout.


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Korean Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

Titled "Smart Korea, Moving the World to You", the Korean pavilion explores new connections and future mobility prospects that shift towards a hyper-connected society. The pavilion includes various programs such as virtual connections to South Korea that give visitors the a chance to marvel at the endless boundaries of mobility. "Mass_ity" (compound noun made of two words – Mass and City) is another theme explored at the pavilion, which interprets the relationship between a mass of people and cities. This dynamic relationship is reflected on the façade of the pavilion, which shows varying images and colors through rotating cubes. The pavilion is designed by MOOYUKI Architects (Moon Hoon + Seong Bong Yun + Dong Gyu Kim).

Sustainability District 

Text description provided by Expo 2020 Dubai: Every day, more and more of us take a sustainable path towards a future where we all live in balance with our only home: Planet Earth. As we join forces, small actions grow into positive global movements that will help communities protect and preserve the world around us. In this district, you’ll see some of the world’s most advanced technology in action, what countries are doing to champion sustainability, and experience how the human race can enjoy living in harmony with nature in a high-tech future.

The Netherlands

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Netherlands Pavilion. Image © Jeroen Musch

The Netherlands Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai proposes a circular climate system that harvests water, energy, manufactures rain and produces food, creating a temporary biotope that embodies the fusion between art, architecture and technology. The project is a display of experimental solutions to “water scarcity, energy transition and food shortages on a life-sized scale model.” Inside the pavilion, a large cone is the main element of the exhibit- a vertical farm covered in edible plants on the outside and mushrooms on the inside. The chimney-like structure helps regulate temperature and moisture inside the cone. Water is harvested from air humidity and used for plant irrigation, with the pavilion extracting 800 liters of water daily. The pavilion is designed by V8 Architects, and the visitor experience is curated by Kossmanndejong.


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Brazilian Pavilion . Image © Dima Stouhi

The Brazilian pavilion brings the Amazon basin to the Dubai desert in an interactive experience that allows visitors to be temporarily transformed to Brazil’s riversides through projections, sounds, and scent. The pavilion recreates the country's environment by filling up half of the pavilion's 4,000sqm with water so visitors if all ages can get their feet wet, and uses over 140 mega projectors that transform the translucent membrane on the steel structure into huge screens that bring the country’s biodiversity to life. In order to cope with Dubai's excess heat, the cubical structure will provide shade during the day and light up the space with interactive digital displays at night. Relating to the theme of sustainability, the designers explained that "this is an opportunity to show the world how sustainable Brazil is and how we prioritze sustainable development. When we say sustainability, that means we have to understand that we are together for nature, together for the people and together for the future. These three pillars have to be connected to make concrete sustainable development. Expo offers a good platform to showcase this". The pavilion is designed by JPG.ARQ, MMBB, and Ben-Avid.

Opportunity District 

Text description provided by Expo 2020 Dubai: There’s a ripple effect in everything we do. Even one person can be the key to unlocking eight billion opportunities that can help individuals and communities create a better tomorrow, today. It’s time to unleash the potential within and be an agent of change. Witness how our lives and actions are interconnected in the Opportunity District. Meet the people worldwide who are transforming dreams and aspirations into the realities of tomorrow, and be empowered to shape the future by unlocking the potential within yourself.


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Swiss Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Swiss Pavilion

Titled "Reflections", the Swiss Pavilion at the 2020 Dubai Expo showcases Switzerland's unique duality of scenic landscapes and technology. The interior of the pavilion is divided into three acts that allow visitors to experience the country's unique features and its journey from tradition to state-of-the-art innovation. The entire experience of the pavilion communicates Switzerland’s strengths and opportunities in the fields of education, research, innovation, and business. In the first act, visitors queuing experience the facet of ‘typically Swiss’ while waiting in line in front of the mirrored facade. The journey continues inside the pavilion for the second act, where visitors "hike" through a fog surrounded by the unique panoramas of nature. Emerging from the fog, visitors observe an artistic interpretation of a mountain panorama, emphasizing the authentic Swiss experience. The third and final act highlights an urban and creative environment, reflecting Switzerland’s position as a world-leading innovative country. The pavilion is designed by OOS Architekten, along with Bellprat Partner for the scenography, and Lorenz Eugster for the landscape.


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Bahrain Pavilion. Image © Dima Stouhi

The Kingdom of Bahrain's pavilion explores how "density weaves opportunities". Regardless of its limited land availability and being the sixth densest country in the world, Bahrain has always progressed through local trade, entrepreneurship, and innovation. It's long standing history and culture is woven into its development, which is how the pavilion translates "density" into architecture. The immersive and dense spatial experience revolves around the act of weaving as a metaphor of density, a traditional handmade craft that has been long practiced in the country. The pavilion exhibits the development of weaving, from traditional looms weaving and embroidery, to innovative weaving technologies such as fiber glass and carbon fiber. The interior is made of 126 steel columns with a diameter of 11cm and 24m in height that intersect occasionally throughout the height of the space. The pavilion is designed by Christian Kerez Zürich AG.

We invite you to check out ArchDaily's comprehensive coverage of Expo 2020 Dubai.

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Cite: Dima Stouhi. "First Look into Expo 2020 Dubai: 6 Must See National Pavilions" 14 Oct 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

Courtesy of Swiss Pavilion

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