Amazing total work of art by Dutch designers and artists

The Netherlands pavilion is a ‘total work of art’ that boosts technical innovations, adds great aesthetic value and contributes to a wider acceptance of technology. For a more beautiful and better world. 

Below press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also announces the Dutch artists involved, in addition to the designers.

The design of the Netherlands pavilion – an outline
Offering visitors a complete sensory experience of the Dutch theme ‘uniting water, energy and food’. That is what V8 Architects wanted to achieve with the design of the Netherlands pavilion. Besides focusing on what people see, appealing to other senses was also key. Letting the visitors feel, hear, smell and taste the theme; giving them goose bumps. The concept: a temporary, circular climate system; a biotope in the desert in which water is harvested from the air, energy is collected from the sun and edible plants and oyster mushrooms are grown. Built with locally rented sheet piles, on the inside finished with bio-based and reusable materials. Which will all be returned or given a new purpose after the EXPO ends.

For the implementation, V8 looked for Dutch innovations in the field of water, energy and food. And what emerged was an inspiring, cross-sector collaboration. Cross-pollination back and forth to design the technical innovations and to integrate them into the pavilion design in such a way that it feels only natural that the energy is generated sustainably and the materials are circular. Dutch artists complete the sensory experience of the story.


13 April 2021

At the Netherlands Pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai, designers and artists are shining the spotlight on technological innovation. Not only do they add aesthetic value through the power of their imagination; they also help promote a wider acceptance of new technology, resulting in a more beautiful and better world.

In October, Expo 2020 will open in the desert of Dubai. The Netherlands Pavilion, a biotope, is the embodiment of our chosen theme of ‘uniting water, energy and food’, demonstrating the connection that the Netherlands has succeeded in making between sustainable energy, water management, agriculture and circularity. Designers and artists are a key part of all this. Their work evokes the vulnerability and fragility of our world. With the growing depletion of natural resources – a highly relevant issue in the Middle East – they present concepts and innovations that stir the imagination and stimulate the senses.

A spectacular interior
For 150 years now, world fairs have made an important contribution to the history of architecture. A number of structures erected for a world fair are still standing today, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Atomium. This will not be the case for the Netherlands Pavilion in Dubai, which will be completely dismantled after the Expo is over, leaving a minimal footprint. But its impact will be no less for that. V8 Architects deliberately opted for a neutral exterior and simple construction materials, such as steel that was already available in Dubai. All the attention paid to the approximately 4,000 m2 structure is directed at the interior, which has a temporary circular climate system created using purely natural resources that are present in the area.

Harvesting water from the air: a world first
The centrepiece is formed by the SunGlacier. With this installation, artist and inventor Ap Verheggen has achieved a world first. With the help of an ingenious technique, he manages to do what was deemed impossible: create water from the dry desert air. His installation treats visitors to a daily rain shower of hundreds of litres of water.

Marjan van Aubel Studio excels in seductive, colourful solar panels. Buro Belén developed biodegradable curtains inspired by the original vegetation in Dubai.

Acceptance depends on aesthetics
The artistic programme, which was put together by Monique Ruhe, seeks to stimulate the senses. As soon as they enter the semi-sunken pavilion, visitors are surrounded by the fragrance of Mastenbroek polder, an olfactory installation by Birthe Leemeijer. In his photographs Kadir van Lohuizen captures the effects of climate change and contemporary food production in a probing way. Joep van Lieshout’s clocks sound as if they are heralding the end of time. Or is it the dawn of a new age? Berndnaut Smilde creates clouds that float through the air. Outside, Theo Jansen’s ‘Strandbeests’ – constructions of PVC tubes driven by the wind – roam around the grounds. These artists, and others, show that when it comes to innovation, aesthetics may be more important than technology in encouraging broad acceptance – a prerequisite for solving global challenges.