Dubai, 2021

Project: Spanish Pavilion Exhibition – Expo 2020 Dubai.

Client: Acción Cultural Española (ACE).

Location: Dubai, UAE. 

Author: External Reference; Carmelo Zappulla,  OnionLab; Aleix Fernández, and Chu Uroz. 

Team: Amin Bigdeli, Stefano Fontolan, Sebastian Amorelli, Vianella Maestra, Iustinian Nanu, Ivan Marchuk.

Contractor: Empty + APD

Collaborators: La Maquina, Lloc Audiovisual, Pablo Rovalo, Semi Balsells Sostenibilidad: EIG.

Awards: Winner | The Best Interactive Pavilion, Exhibitor Magazine 2022.

Bronze Winner | Exhibition Design Category A, Bureau International des Expositions 2022.

Best of Best | Exhibition Category, Architecture Masterprize 2022.

Shortlisted, Finalist | Special Projects Category, The Plan Award 2022. [Ongoing]

Upper floor

In the first space, the visitor will be able to discover the links that our country has had for centuries with the Arab world. With “Chess, a legacy for the future” as the backbone, it is discovered how this millenary game is received in Spain and expands to the rest of the world. Intelligence and strategy as a link between countries, materialized in a chess board with pieces large-scale physicals and a table set with digital chess so visitors can stop and play a game.
The route is followed by the section “Connecting continents”, a sample of overseas trips in which the spectators will find a circular mechanical device in the shape of a drop of water, and where, thanks to a sand plotter, they will be able to visualize the Hispanic expeditions. “Connecting Continents” has been conceived as if it were an ocean voyage: a mirage in the middle of the desert. The installation will also feature two electronic ink screens that will combine bicolor illustrations with an explanatory text about Christopher Columbus’ first voyage, the around the world of Fernando de Magallanes and Juan Sebastián Elcano or the route of the Manila Galleon.In the “Spanish, Global Language” room, a 1.8 meter diameter sphere will allow the visitor to read and listen to the phonetics of more than 100 Castilian words with Arabic roots, discovering the connections between both languages.
The exhibition will continue with the “Al-Andalus Glimmers”, a room where visitors will contemplate on the ceiling an installation composed of patterns inspired by the latticework of iconic buildings of Muslim culture in Spain such as the Alhambra in Granada, the Mosque of Córdoba or the Alcázar of Seville.
The tour will end with the section “Exploring the intelligence”, a reflection on the nature of the human mind and how it works, pioneered by Ramón y Cajal, Nobel Prize winner in 1906. It will include two circular screens with graphic content and a 3D animation augmented reality available through the application that will allow visitors to explore Cajal’s drawings in three dimensions.

Lower Floor

After the screening of the short film “Moon in August”, visitors will enter “The forest of intelligence”, in the lower gallery, which will show some examples of innovative Spanish projects in terms of sustainability. The forest, built with organic and recycled materials, includes interactive floors to enhance the immersive experience and is organized into three conceptual areas: preservation of biodiversity, balanced use of resources and collective intelligence.
The first section is a compliment to the privileged biodiversity of Spain. In “Oceans and Seas” scenography is combined with laser effects, caustic projections on the walls and audiovisuals with data on the conservation of coasts and seas, combining some of the most spectacular landscapes of the Spanish coasts.
In the “Microalgae against climate change” area, dedicated to these organisms whose abundance is one of the greatest hopes for combating climate change, glass incubators are installed where microalgae are cultivated, holograms that will simulate floating microalgae and informative audiovisuals about their properties.
“Forests for Future Generations” is one of the scenic and interactive summits of the tour. The viewer is immersed in a photographic montage that triples in size to later discover a recreation of one of the most impressive Spanish forests. In addition, the 3D printed trees are made of a material that absorbs CO2. These experiences are accompanied by audiovisuals, pieces about birds of prey and an element of protected animals, with which users can photograph themselves using the pavilion app.
The next section, entitled “Sustainable food”, is devoted to the initiatives of Spain as a leader to change consumption habits and agricultural production: a space dedicated to discovering the control of crops with software, the biological control of pests, the production of cultivated meat, projects that reduce waste and the Mediterranean diet, considered the healthiest in the world.
In “Renewable Energies and Waters” we observe the transformations of the Spanish energy industry thanks to several models of sustainable projects with management, production and installation of renewable energies.
Next, the tour reaches the “Smart Territories” section, which highlights Spain as a pioneer country in IoT, connectivity and networks and, right after, it reaches the interactive heart of the exhibition and its most ambitious installation: the “Tree of Balance ”. Erected as a collective intelligence thermometer, asking visitors questions about their habits and customs. Depending on your answers, the tree will turn green and leafy if they are sustainable, or it will lose its foliage and dry out if it is not.
Finally, the “Accelerators of the future” sector is dedicated to emerging companies developing sustainable projects in Spain. His mention is accompanied by one of the most spectacular pieces of the route: a full-scale prototype related to the transport sector.
After having explored the global intersections that reconcile intelligence and sustainability, the visitor returns to the upper gallery through an exit ramp where “Spain, a country to live” will be celebrated The sum of all these interactions helps to immerse the viewer in the sustainable experience and awareness of the pavilion in a playful and creative way.