SAUDI ARABIA PAVILION for EXPO 2020 – The Pavilion, an inclined monolith rising from the ground towards the sky, amplifies the core message of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a country firmly rooted in its heritage yet leaping exuberantly towards the future. It is a cultural awakening in the embrace of seamless space, a collaborative being and discovery of widely unknown aspects of “The Kingdom”. For the very diverse global person today, the KSA pavilion was special in its intrinsic empowering sense of universal values, in beauty, nature, existence and memories to each individual. It’s creative transformation of classical exhibition techniques interweave with creative media technology liberate people’s imaginations whilst connecting all .
Architizer chatted with Joyce Lau, Project Director at Boris Micka Associates, to learn more about this project.
Architizer: What inspired the initial concept for your design?
Joyce Lau: The KSA country theme to celebrate its past, present and future is the key driver and forms the partí symbolized in the strong clarity of the form rising from the grounded past and dynamically accelerating into the future and the skies. It’s the energized state of the nation and its people that inspired the concept of resolute certainty. The form of the box is clear in its integrity and it is thus positioned to reflect the ongoing dynamics inherent in transformation.
This project won in the 10th Annual A+Awards! What do you believe are the standout components that made your project win?
As a whole, the pavilion had resonated with all people from all nations, backgrounds and age. The heart of the different components had engaged with different people in their own ways, forming their own experience and fueling imaginations. The water-welcome created the fun and incidental unplanned moments, whilst the turn of the corner into a heritage time and setting triggers a voyage back in time, the “land and People” throws beauty off ground… and the abstracted kaleidoscopic globe is an enigma in space . The components are thus about human experiences, to invoke and evoke awe, wonder, curiosity, surprise and questions. Knowledge sharing in creative ways, to connect people’s primordial senses would be the popularly favored components of the ksa pavilion .
What was the greatest design challenge you faced during the project, and how did you navigate it?
The greatest challenge in design that we faced is to come up with bespoke solutions for the pavilion which has its own specificities in context and requirement. An example would be the Guinness book of record awards components found in this project. These “firsts” posed technical development challenges and threatens the purity of the original idea. Even though we have had tested-experience that our proposed ideas are totally feasible , we understand the nature of improvised outcomes through collaborative discussions. The group effort towards a bespoke solution is best when the leader stays knowledgeable, firm yet open to study options.
How did the context of your project — environmental, social or cultural — influence your design?
The abundance of sun in dubai is a bonus to our design when it comes to the harness of solar energy. Our full expanse of inclined flat roof for the pavilion becomes the optimised solar farm and contributed to the Leeds platinum certification for the project . Culturally, the pavilion was able to make everyone feel welcome as its common language is rooted in visual and sensorial.
What drove the selection of materials used in the project?
Consideration for sustainability means that locally sources products from the home and host countries of the KSA and Dubai drives the material selection. The other unexpected but salient factors are availability within the pandemic situation.
What is your favorite detail in the project and why?
One favorite would be “Welcome water” reception area with its amphitheater path-approach, which I nicknamed “belly of the pavilion” ; the other is “Land & People” where one is drawn into the landscape and grandeur of the KSA. I enjoy watching people laughing and playing with the water at that threshold into the pavilion. For “land & people” , the music and presence of the images are powerful moments of embodiment and temporal displacement.
How important was sustainability as a design criteria as you worked on this project?
Sustainability is an intrinsic value, consideration and outcome of all responsible design.
In what ways did you collaborate with others, and were there any team members or skills that were essential in bringing this Award winning project to life?
Our core expo design team consists of very experienced international scenographers, architects, contents developers, creative directors, movie makers and lighting designers, all of whom are professionals who had worked together on expo projects for the last 25 years . Together with a strong local delivery team in dubai consisting of contractors and engineers,
How have your clients responded to the finished project?
They definitely are enjoying operating it and very happy to see how their pavilion is resonating with so many people . They do feel a sense of solidarity and heightens appreciation amongst themselves and with the world through their popular pavilion .
What key lesson did you learn in the process of conceiving the project?
I realised that Expo pavilion is a social and cultural product rather than merely an architecture with contents and entertainment . It should be an innovative project that is as a socially accessible and engaging . It should engage seamlessly with everyone in space, contents and across time. The expo pavilion is a slice of time and a window to understand a collective phenomenon.
For more on the Saudi Arabia Pavilion for Expo 2020, please visit the in-depth project page on Architizer.