bureau^proberts tops Australia Pavilion at Dubai Expo with cumulus cloud

Oct 6, 2021
  • Article by Elisa Scarton

bureau^proberts has topped its design for the Australia Pavilion at the Dubai Expo with vertical powder-coated aluminium blades inspired by a cumulus cloud.

A natural phenomenon mobile across all Australian landscapes and “indeed evident across the world”, the cumulus cloud is a representation of our country’s welcoming and multicultural nature.

“The cumulus cloud is agile and ever changing and is a sign of clear weather and expansiveness,” says the Queensland practice.

“As an architectural form in Dubai, it creates a canopy for shade and gathering, welcoming all visitors from all nations to our place.”

Eschewing the literal, bureau^proberts chose to represent the cloud canopy as a tectonic form, dubbing the pavilion Blue Sky Dreaming.

The aluminium blades on the building’s exterior are arranged at different heights to create an abstraction of the cloud as a large, strong and beautiful shape, which appears from below as a “single billowing form”. 

During the evening, the cloud-like structure will light up in a dynamic display that reflects Australia’s thunderous skies.

“The ever-changing sky and light quality bring a shifting play of light and shadow reflected across the form,” explains bureau^proberts.

“As a cohesive form derived from many individual parts, the cloud symbolises the strength we draw from a society that is socially, culturally and intellectually mobile.”

The Dubai Expo kicked off this week and will run until 31 March 2022 with the Australia Pavilion one of the first to be unveiled earlier this year.

At 21-metres-tall and 3552-square-metres, it’s also one of the largest at the event, welcoming visitors to its forecourt with a large social space that translates Australia’s distinctive landscape and skies.

Folding timber structures positioned beneath bureau^proberts’ cloud-like form house eateries serving, among other things, kangaroo, prawns and myrtle figs, alongside a concert area and five-a-side football pitch, which will host free events, activities and competitions.

Internally, the building celebrates Australia’s spirit of innovation and its history as one of the world’s oldest continuous civilisations, highlighting the nation’s infinite opportunities. 

Three distinct spaces “relay the story of Australia’s vibrant and long-lived culture” beginning with Welcome Stories – a neon-coloured tunnel covered in a mural by Ballarat-based Yorta Yorta/ Gunditjmara multimedia artist Josh Muir.

Visitors are then guided into the Star Dreaming gallery – a planetarium-style experience that highlights Indigenous Australians’ role as the oldest astronomers in the world.

The final space is a wall-to-wall immersive storytelling exhibition that tells the tale of a young girl’s journey through Australia.

Keeping in mind the sustainability aspect of the pavilion, bureau^proberts used “familiar, reusable and readily available products” to limit waste and unnecessary manufacturing.

Australian-made cross laminated timber (CLT) was used throughout the space since it can be sustainably sourced and dismantled once the expo ends. 

Smart water-saving technologies will also enable real-time tracking of water usage throughout the building.

The Dubai Expo was originally slated to run last year, but was postponed due to COVID-19.

Focused on architecture, culture, and innovation, the world expo, held for the first time in the Middle East will gather 180 national participants. 

Based on themes for the future of “opportunity, mobility and sustainability”, the six-month-long event is being billed as the biggest ever held in the Arab world.

Led by managing and creative director Liam Proberts, bureau^proberts’ is a practice based in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Photography supplied.

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