Netherlands Pavilion: EXPO 2020 Dubai

Expomobilia – MCH Live Marketing Solutions
Published in the
Eventdesign Yearbook 2023/24
Book cover


At Expo 2020 in Dubai, the Dutch pavilion was designed to show innovative solution ideas for global problems such as water shortages, the energy transition and food security. In the Sustainability District of Expo, a venue was to be created
that would bring people together and provide opportunities to discuss how we can ensure water, energy and food together sustainably in times of climate change.

The idea was to create a miniature biotope in the desert – an autonomous, circular climate system that produces its own water, energy and food through vertical agriculture. Under the motto “Uniting Water, Energy & Food”, an emotional visitor  experience was created, along with a sustainable pavilion that was unsurpassed in its purposefulness.

The biotope was at the centre of the design: an 18-metrehigh cone with 9000 edible plants. An interactive route conveyed a dramaturgically constructed, multisensory experience. It started with a slowly declining temperature
from hot to cool. Sounds sparked the curiosity of the visitors. Within the cone, they could smell oyster mushrooms and feel rain.

One of the highlights was the unusual show that incorporated the guests. In the central cone, each person received a white umbrella that served as an individual projection surface when opened. The projected content showed and explained the technical innovations of the pavilion.

When leaving the cone, one could see or the first time the biotope with its wealth of plants, as well as the radical building method adhering 100 percent to the principles of circular design: a visible structure made of reusable sheet pile walls and steel pipes from the local construction industry, without any use of concrete. The innovative “Sunglacier system” extracted 800 litres of water a day from the desert air. Transparent solar panels provided the necessary energy. The fittings consisted of innovative materials such as 300 square metres of curtain, 172 square metres of projecting roof made of biodegradable biopolymer, 650 square metres of organically based mycelium tiles and cylindrical spatial elements consisting of pipes. The materials were reused locally, recycled or composted after dismantling in 2022.

An exceptional pavilion that staged sustainable and circular solutions as an immersive experience – thereby creating a resounding international media echo.


Expomobilia – MCH Live Marketing Solutions
Ministerie van Economische Zaken & Klimaat / Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland
United Arab Emirates
Direction / Coordination / Architecture / Design
V8 Architects
Expomobilia – MCH Live Marketing Solutions
Witteven+Bos, Deventer (Construction planning)


Politics & Society
Agriculture, Architecture, Clever, Innovation, Sustainability, Technology, Transformation, Water
Pavilion, Public Experience