The results of the international design competition for the Italian Pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, scheduled for 20 October 2020 through 10 April 2021 in the United Arab Emirates, were announced on 15 March. 19 design teams presented proposals, and the judges selected the project submitted by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, Italo Rota Building Office, F&M Ingegneria, and Matteo Gatto & Associati.
Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first World’s Fair to be held in an Arab country, or anywhere in the area referred to as ME.NA.SA. (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia). 200 countries will present their best ideas and innovative projects in a variety of fields, both tangible and intangible, at Expo, providing an overview of the latest new developments pertinent to the theme of the World’s Fair.
Expo 2020 will focus on three macro-areas: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. Opportunity is defined as the potential of individuals and communities to contribute to building a better future for humanity with their own hands, and the pavilion focusing on this theme, designed by Cox Architecture, will be built out of organic materials, including 2500 tonnes of stone and 111 km of braided rope. The theme of Mobility will focus on innovative logistics, transportation and communication systems for people, goods and ideas, represented by a pavilion designed by Foster + Partners. We have already discussed the third pavilion, focusing on Sustainability, defined in terms of the accessibility and resilience of environmental, energy and water resources, at the second event in The Architects Series, the exhibition format of SpazioFMG per l’Architettura, which focused on pavilion designers Grimshaw Architects.
The Italian Pavilion will be located in a part of the Expo site which, according to the organisers, ensures great visibility in relation to visitor flows, between the “Opportunity” and “Sustainability” theme areas. The pavilion will occupy about 3,500 square metres and be more than 25 metres tall.
"La bellezza unisce le persone - beauty connects people” is the title that will appear on the sides of the building. According to the press release, it is a reference to "the Italian sense of beauty, which has always been expedient in connecting peoples, talents and ingenuity. It is a Mediterranean cultural heritage and a bridge towards the future". A homage to the country’s seagoing tradition, underlined by the hulls of three vessels in the colours of the Italian flag that will sail to Dubai. The three vessels will then be overturned and raised on tall pillars to serve as the roof of the pavilion; from above, they will look like three coloured petals forming the Italian flag. A metaphor of travel and contamination, of the ongoing dialogue and relations with the world that have allowed Italy to become the blend of culture, ingenuity, talent and art the world knows and appreciates today. The architects see the overturned hull as representing the sustainability and reuse typical of traditional fishing peoples all over the world, and in fact the roofs of many traditional rural Italian buildings look like an overturned hull, a type of construction known in the Po Valley by the name of “barchessa”, deriving from “barca”, boat.
The exhibition route will begin with a "prologue" consisting of large spaces inspired by the shape of Italian piazzas and end with a "grand finale" which Italo Rota describes as "a cathedral of Nature, of Light, Music and the Universe, like the sky over the Mediterranean or the Desert”.