Public building

Expo 2020 Dubai

Competition entry for Sweden's Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion

Concept: Inside-out. When outside becomes inside, when the floor becomes the ceiling. The boundaries between the various sites are erased and inspired by Sweden's openness, the Swedish pavilion makes the building's premises accessible both from the outside and the inside.

The concept “inside-out” retrieves its inspiration from Sweden of today. “Allemansrätten,” Sweden’s unique law of the freedom to roam, or “everyman’s right”, is the general public’s right to access certain public or privately owned land, lakes, and rivers for recreation and exercise – regardless of the ownership.

“Allemansrätten” is the focus when Sweden welcomes the world. Like the forests, the archipelago and the mountains in Sweden are accessible to all, the Swedish pavilion becomes a piece of Sweden at the in Dubai, for everyone to visit and experience.

The building is inspired by Sweden and its nature and grows out of the field like a mountain landscape. Above the pavilion a rolling ceiling, smoothly sweeps as a snowy landscape. The roof takes inspiration from the the stubbornness of the fir-tree and the typical saddle roof of the cottages in the archipelago. Cottage, forest and wind in one. The sun is filtered through the transparent roof and recreates the feeling of being in a coniferous forest.

The roofscape is in fact both the roof of the pavilion and at the same time an exterior exhibition space and event space. This makes the pavilion’s exhibition space double in size. Thus, the number of people who can experience the Swedish pavilion also doubles.

The pavilion shows Sweden’s know-how in wood construction and gives visitors the opportunity to experience wood from many different perspectives. On the ground, on the walls, on the gradient inside and out, in the ceiling and on the benches.

Wood is something you see and feel, and its fragrance hits everyone when you step into the pavilion.

In the words of the architect:

“Our proposal for the Swedish pavilion at World Expo in Dubai 2020 where we were selected to compete as one of four teams. The brief was about communicating core Swedish values and innovation using wood as the main construction material.

Our concept was based on the unique Swedish “allemansrätten”, public right of way, which means that also privately-owned land is accessible to all. We wanted to showcase the open and family friendly Swedish society as well.

Anyone who has attended a World Expo knows the competition for the visitor’s attention is fierce, it is usually very warm, one must queue, and places to rest are rare. Our design concept “Inside-Out” is about public space and innovation – two domains where Sweden stands out on the global arena. The architectural elements merge traditional timbre construction with technologically advanced design.

A wooden landscape rises from the ground and forms the roof of the pavilion. The landscape itself is covered by a large undulating roof reminiscent of the widespread Swedish snowy landscapes in winter. Other details include robots integrated in speaking flowers to keep you company on a bench and charging stations in the queuing area with solar panels shaped like oversized Swedish insects. On the inside, conference facilities and exhibition areas display Swedish innovations through different themes in an environment with a strong experience of wood.

Our team included Belatchew Arkitekter, WSP, Fritz Halvorsen and Bea Szenfeld.

So if anyone out there is looking for a striking design in wood for a venue, just give me a call, we have a concept!”

Rahel Belatchew, CEO, Founder and Principal Architect, Belatchew Arkitekter

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