The Sustainability pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will open for public viewing this month.
Tickets to view the eco-friendly wonder at the sprawling expo site are priced at Dh25 and can be purchased online.
Sustainability is one of the expo’s three sub-themes and aims to raise awareness of human impact on the environment.
The official opening of the spectacular world’s fair is not until October 1, but members of the public can be part of the “Pavilions Premiere” event ahead of time.
On Saturday, The National received a first look of the pavilion – called Terra, which translates to 'planet Earth'.
An environmental wonder
The pavilion covers 6,300 square metres of the expo site and is entirely operated from solar energy and recycled water.
A 130-metre-wide canopy acts as a roof for the building and is covered with 1,055 photovoltaic panels that supply energy to the pavilion.
Massive “energy trees” in the shape of sunflowers are spread throughout the area and also distribute power. These rotate throughout the day to track and store sunlight.
In total, the building’s technology will produce four GwH per year of electricity – enough for a Nissan Leaf to drive halfway to Mars.
For water, condensation is collected from the air-handling system, which is then filtered, disinfected and blended with near-surface brackish water. It is then desalinated on-site and supplied.
The pavilion uses the greywater recycling system and local plants to reduce water by 75 per cent.
"The reason this theme was chosen was to recognise sustainability and environmental issues that we're all facing as humanity," Marjan Faraidooni, chief experience officer at the expo, told The National.
“We have the responsibility to communicate the environmental issues are to the general public, so that we raise awareness and hopefully get people inspired to take action around their personal choices that would have impact on the environment.”
Experiences at Sustainability pavilion
An interactive “underground forest” and “underground ocean” have been set up to raise awareness on the negative impact humans have on to the planet.
Massive trees are built into the forest, with strobe lights and lasers that are meant to represent how nature communicates with itself.
As visitors walk further in, displays show how human consumption of daily items, such as meat, fashion items and paper, is harming the environment and leading to climate change.
“We bring to light the networks of the roots that are happening underground. We always see trees and above, but we don’t see what happens underneath,” Ms Faraidooni said.
“We want people to appreciate the complexity of nature. More importantly, how every member of that ecosystem has a role to play, whether it is a worm, a bird or a bigger animal like an elephant.
“The second part of the story is we take you through consumption halls – you are faced with the implications of how your own actions have impacted the environment.”
Visitors can also experience what is underneath the large canopy. A courtyard has been built deeper into the ground to bring in cooler air. An underground reservoir helps collect rainwater.
Other displays include an Arabian wadi, interactive games that aim to raise awareness against the everyday choices people make that affects the environment and a “lab of future values” which presents solutions to environmental challenges.
How to book a visit
All visitors are required to book their visit online before they arrive and walk-ins will not be accepted. A system of time slots is being used to better traffic flow in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The experience will be open from 3pm to 9pm on Tuesdays to Thursdays and 4pm to 10pm on weekends, from January 22 to April 10.
What happens to the pavilion after the expo?
The Sustainability pavilion will be turned into a children’s science centre.
“Ever since its inception, we always had a children’s science centre in mind to continue this mission of inspiring educating the future generation about environmental issues and, more importantly, getting them to take action and be positive agents of change,” Ms Faraidooni said.
Holding a world fair amid a pandemic
Dubai Expo 2020 officials said during a press conference that they are confident the eagerly awaited show will go on this year.
The initial opening was postponed from 2020 to October 1 2021 because of the pandemic.
About 3,000 to 3,500 visitors are expected to attend during weekdays and about 5,000 on weekends.
Tickets with dedicated date and time slots will be sold online to manage traffic flow.
Temperature screenings and social distancing will be carried out.
A greater focus is being placed on a virtual expo to make the experience available to people around the world, as well.