Singapore’s oasis-in-the desert pavilion set to steal the show at Expo 2020 Dubai

As many as 192 countries will take part in the six-month Expo 2020 Dubai opening on October 20 next year but Singapore will indubitably steal the show at the once-in-five-years event with its sprawling pavilion representing the nation’s unique City-in-a-Garden image.

The Singapore pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai is themed 'Nature. Nurture. Future'. Photo courtesy: Facebook/WOHA Architects
The Singapore pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai is themed 'Nature. Nurture. Future'. Photo courtesy: Facebook/WOHA Architects

Themed 'Nature. Nurture. Future', the 1,550-square-metre pavilion will be a net-zero energy building that will showcase a ‘city in a garden’, a multi-layered three-dimension green space with three nine-metre-tall, tree-like garden cones reflecting Singapore’s liveability, sustainability, and resilience. 

Designed by Woha Architects and produced by Radius Experiential International, both based in Singapore, the eye-catching structure is being constructed by the country’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, and will be ready by August 2020. Singapore had earlier participated in the World Expo in 2000, 2005 and 2010.

According to Woha Architects' co-founding director, Wong Mun Summ, the nature-focussed project is aimed at creating an oasis in the Arabian desert. The pavilion’s usable areas are maximized and multiplied through stacked layers to form a voluminous, three-dimensional green space.

The Singapore pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is aimed at creating an oasis in the Arabian desert. Photo courtesy: Facebook/WOHA Architects
The Singapore pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is aimed at creating an oasis in the Arabian desert. Photo courtesy: Facebook/WOHA Architects

The ground floor is a lush oasis of tropical trees, verdant shrubs and vibrant orchids, capped with a spectacular hanging garden and anchored by three cones draped in vertical greenery.

The landscaped garden cones are thematic volumes with sensory and multimedia displays that offer the visitors a refreshing and memorable experience. A meandering canopy walk brings them around and through the cones and emerges to an open sky market platform.

Wong said that the top floor would be used as a sky market – a retail and dining space where visitors would be invited to buy and eat traditional food from Singapore. This will be topped by the flat, cantilevered solar roof, which will generate electricity while providing shade and shelter for visitors.

The net-zero energy building will showcase a ‘city in a garden’. Photo courtesy: Facebook/WOHA Architects
The net-zero energy building will showcase a ‘city in a garden’. Photo courtesy: Facebook/WOHA Architects

Indeed, sheltered by the solar canopy and cooled with fine mist fans, visitors learn more about Singapore from the array of interactive exhibits and programmes. The experience concludes at the ground galleria with a display of Singapore’s design stories and a retail space.

Despite the heat of the desert, the visitors’ journey is made comfortable and enjoyable by the combination of shade, evapo-transpiration cooling of the vegetation and fine mist fans that cool the air by 5-10 degrees Celsius.

The uniqueness of the Singapore pavilion is that, despite its location in the desert, it will be green, soft and alive, demonstrating the great potential of the respectful, seamless integration and coexistence of nature and architecture. 

“It represents a captivating and forward-looking Singapore, one that is sociable, sustainable and livable, and shows a way architecture can make a meaningful contribution to the fight against the effects of climate change,” says Wong, adding that the new-fangled design will prove that it is possible to build a self-sufficient green oasis anywhere in the world, even in the desert.

Explains Wong, “Planting more trees and creating more green spaces is the best way to take immediate action against climate change – recent studies show it to be the most effective, cost-efficient, and broadly available solution to combat global warming and it can be done now, anywhere. Singapore has been exploring many ways to become one of the greenest places in the world and we hope to share this knowledge at the World Expo.”

Singapore's participation in Expo 2020 Dubai underlines its close bilateral ties with the United Arab Emirates. It is expected that as hubs for respective regions, the World Expo will facilitate further expansion of Singapore's network in the Middle East region and will also deepen the engagement between the two countries.

Said Lim Eng Hwee, chief executive officer of the Urban Redevelopment Authority spearheading the project, "The Singapore Pavilion is centered on our country's guiding ethos of sustainable growth where we can have both economic growth and a high quality living environment. Through the presentation at Expo 2020 Dubai, we hope to celebrate Singapore's spirit of ingenuity and creativity by profiling Singapore's innovative urban solutions, design and capabilities through programmes and activities that will take place throughout the Expo.”

Dubai Expo 2020 will be held from October 20, 2020, to April 10, 2021. Photo courtesy: Facebook/Expo 2020 Dubai
Dubai Expo 2020 will be held from October 20, 2020, to April 10, 2021. Photo courtesy: Facebook/Expo 2020 Dubai

To be continued till April 10, 2021, Expo 2020 Dubai, spread over 4.38 kilometres within the Sustainability District of the exhibition site in Dubai South, will attract some 25 million visitors and will also include the Dutch pavilion that will feature a closed-loop climate system centred on a tower of plants and the United States pavilion that will feature a hyperloop simulator.

Author
Mahesh Trivedi
Mahesh Trivedi – Special Correspondent

Mahesh Trivedi is a veteran journalist with over four decades of experience in journalism. Based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat he has held senior editorial positions in Times of India, Indian Express, Observer of Business & Politics and the Financial Express (Mumbai). He has also written for the Khaleej Times, Gulf Daily News and Oman Daily Observer.

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