The Canada Pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai offers an exciting draw to experience the diversity, energy, and innovation of contemporary Canadian society. Inspired by Canadian landscapes and Arab architectural elements, the Canada Pavilion is a symbolic representation of the strong cultural ties between these two distant geographic regions.
Within a crowded and high budget architectural spectacle that typically define Expos, the design team developed uncomplicated architectural and planning gestures to engage the public’s senses on a multitude of levels. Underpinning this experience was a powerful hovering form, circular, a universal symbol of unity, evoking the cyclical relationship humans have to one another, their landscapes, and the planet.
Appearing as a large floating disc hovering above the Expo Plaza, Canada’s Pavilion also calls to mind a hand drum, a ubiquitous instrument of choice of storytelling and celebration amongst the Indigenous cultures of both Canada and the Middle East.
Composed of a modular layering of geometric panels on vertical supports, the wood screen evokes the experience of a Canadian forest, defined by rhythmic verticals that are connected by an airy, foliage-like lattice. The use of a geometric lattice is also an intentional cultural tie-in to the Mashrabiyya, an exterior wood screen that provides privacy and shade. Further enriching the narrative of the Pavilion, the lattice geometry is informed by the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) – an iconic Canadian expression of mobility, linking our diverse, cultural and natural landscapes. Relative sea level elevations of the TCH were mapped out from coast-to-coast and circumscribed as an outline across.
Situated at the outer periphery of the Expo grounds, the Pavilion design offers visitors a chance for pause and reflection on their journey of learning, providing pleasure to the visitors. The warm amber colours and textures of the wood screen gently draws people into the Pavilion plaza.