Global practice, Foster + Partners has designed the mobility pavilion ‘Alif’, one of the three anchor exhibits in Expo 2020 Dubai. The exhibit aims to showcase Dubai and the UAE as global transportation hubs, strengthening international trade, exploration, and international relations.
Located at the entrance of the mobility district, the pavilion evokes a sense of movement through its external envelope, composed of horizontal bands wrapping around the building. This envelope strategy also allows plenty of natural light to enter inside the pavilion’s trefoil shape.
The feeling of mobility is further evoked by drawing inspiration from chrome fenders and aircraft wings and using highly reflective stainless-steel cladding. The building reflects the surrounding area and light, making it appear to be in motion, with the visible lines of its layers hinting towards the connection we make, even when physically apart.
The trefoil shape plan of the exhibit caters to the sub-theme of mobility, allowing visitors to enter the exhibit between the petal forms marked by the raised aluminum fins. From here, the visitors can board elevators that organisers describe as ‘world’s largest lift’, to be taken to the top of the building.
Gerard Evenden, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners, said: “This is the third World Expo that we have been involved in, the two previous were in Shanghai and Milan. These events are incredible opportunities to showcase innovation from around the world. Similarly, Alif – The Mobility Pavilion conveys new ideas of mobility in a simple, yet thought-provoking and engaging manner, as we look towards the future of Dubai and the UAE in its aspirations, its technology and its investment.”
The pavilion has been designed to LEED Gold standard, featuring a self-shading form that reduces the cooling load inside the building. The metal cladding that wraps the building all around is heat-reflective and the roof is fitted with photovoltaic panels to produce energy for the pavilion. The landscape around the pavilion features local plants which can thrive in local weather without the need for too much water, creating an external landscape where all people can come together.
“The design of the building and the exhibition have evolved together right from the outset in close collaboration with the Expo team. The tri-foil plan of the building has developed around the creation of three volumes which will house a dedicated space for each of these sections. The exterior landscape of the building forms a platform for interactive shows and experiments that explore the notion of Mobility,” added Evenden.
The pavilion also features an underground partly-open track where visitors can see cutting-edge mobility devices and even try their hands on few of them. The building is intended to continue its legacy, becoming an integral element of district 2020.