28 November 2019

Dubai 2020: Carlo Ratti’s Italian Pavilion

I saw three ships come sailing in … Here too, there will also be three ships, but upside down and carrying an ecological message as well as sustainable materials. Describing his latest project – the Italian Pavilion for Expo 2020, Carlo Ratti had this to say: “We are deeply fascinated by the idea of turning upside down and reusing these crafts, not just because the concept is laden with historical values, but also because it explores the circularity of architecture, right from the outset.” The project, in which the true protagonists are 3 ships, modern tricolour caravels, that will evoke travel as a means of exploring and sharing beauty, is authored by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati along with Italo Rota, Matteo Gatto and F&M Ingegneria. The ships will return to sailing and navigating around the world once Expo 2020 is over, because they have been designed to be reused in different ways. Sustainability is a subject particularly dear to Carlo Ratti’s heart, and which he recently tackled in Living Nature. La Natura dell’Abitare, a project that explored possibilities and applications in contemporary living, developed by the Salone del Mobile.Milano for the 2018 edition.

For Expo 2020, to be held in Dubai from 20th October next to 21st April 2021, Carlo Ratti has interpreted the guiding theme of the event – Connecting Minds, Creating the Future – and that of the pavilion itself – Beauty Connects People – in a similar vein. Sustainable items such as orange peel, coffee beans, mycelium and recycled plastic retrieved from the sea have been used as construction materials. The building will also underscore the theme of sustainability, using air control strategies rather than air conditioning, and has the potential to be reconfigured in the short or long term, thanks to its circularity and to digital technologies. Nothing will go to waste, and the sea will be a figurative presence by way of one of its main living organisms – seaweed – which will be used to produce both food and energy. The sinuous roof of the building will also allude to the sea, whilst also being reminiscent of sand waves in the desert. The building seems literally to spring from one of these dunes; the entire project strives to integrate local materials with organic waste, experimenting with the use of building techniques that chime with the circular economy. The project also explores the importance of history, tradition and memory in sparking innovation – such as the façade made up of LED curtains and nautical ropes which work together to create a digital screen for multimedia displays. Lastly, the Italian pavilion is a rightful tribute to the coastal communities that have inhabited the Mediterranean area for centuries, weaving a common cultural heritage.


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