Expo Dubai 2020: unveiled the Italian Pavilion

CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota Building Office, F&M Ingegneria and Matteo Gatto & Associati have won the international competition to design the Italian Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020. Inspired by an ancient marine tradition, three boats will arrive in Dubai by sea and then be raised and turned upside down to become the very roof of the building. The Pavilion will be open from October 20th, 2020 to April 10th, 2021 in Dubai, U.A.E.

The Pavilion explores the ways in which “beauty connects people” – the theme of Italy’s participation in next year’s World’s Fair – paying tribute to the long history of explorers who, throughout the centuries, sailed the seas and wove together a shared Mediterranean cultural heritage. The use of upside-down hulls for the roof of the Pavilion connects to an ancient tradition of seafaring populations all around the world, while also promoting sustainability with a circular approach.

Reusing the ships once on land was an act that had a profound appeal to us: not only because it is laden with historical value, but because it represents the realization of a circular architecture from the project’s beginning. The ships that become part of the Pavilion can continue to be used in different ways even after the end of the Expo,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA practice and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The Italian Pavilion within the site of Expo 2020 Dubai will take up a surface of around 3,500 square meters and will be over 25 meters tall. Each hull will be painted in a different  way,  so that seen from above, they will appear like three petals in the colors of the Italian flag. Paolo Glisenti, General Commissioner for Italy at Expo 2020 Dubai, comments: “The project of Ratti, Rota, Gatto  and  F&M allows us to build not only an exhibition  space,  but a space that represents the best of Italian ingenuity, offering a memorable experience to visitors. The Italian Pavilion will be realized with the contributions of partner companies – large, medium and small – called to provide the best structural, engineering, technological and scenographic components, that are able to demonstrate the most innovative competences committed today to sustainability, to the circular economy, to digital architecture.”

The project continues CRA’s ongoing work in experimenting with innovative exhibition structures at the World Fairs. Previous projects include the Digital Water Pavilion, a water-based architecture at the Expo Zaragoza 2008 that reacted to people walking through it thanks to digital technologies – named by Time magazine one of the “Best Inventions of the Year” – and the Future Food District, an interactive retail space at Expo Milano 2015.