The 2,000-square-metre structure takes inspiration from the Whanganui River, which was legally recognised as a living entity in 2017 after decades of negotiations between the Te Ati Haunui-a-Paparangi tribe and the New Zealand government.
Just like a river, the facade ripples with an audible pulse, occasionally booming.
The pavilion's theme is Care for People and Place, which is based on the Maori aboriginal ethos that humans and nature are inextricably linked.
By entering the pavilion, the visitor will reconnect to the Mauri, or life principle, inherent in nature’s order, organisers said.
“Every element of the pavilion is interconnected; from the immersive visitor experience and storytelling rooms inside the pavilion, to the pulse, which starts in our river room and ripples all the way to the exterior facade,” said Clayton Kimpton, New Zealand’s commissioner general to Expo 2020 Dubai.
“This is the life force of our story - a story of a nation of innovators who 'Care for People and Place'," he said.
Rippling and refracting
The facade took 22 days to install and is 25 metres high, but only weighs 85 kilograms. Made from a unique mesh known as Kaynemaile, it took six years for the team to create, and refracts heat from the sun.
The lead designer of the material was Kayne Horsham, who previously worked for the design crew of the Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy, as art director for creatures, weapons and armour.
“Kaynemaile is effectively bringing to life the exterior of the New Zealand pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, adding a unique look and feel that draws visitors in with its beautiful and complex 3D design,” said Mr Horsham.
“Significantly for the Middle East, the mesh also radically reduces the radiant heat transfer from direct sunlight to internal environments by up to 70 per cent, thereby reducing pressure on installed cooling systems.”
Matte Glubb, the Kiwi architect behind the pavilion said the moving effect on the facade ties the whole project together.
“It not only expresses our interconnectedness, but also the idea that we are indivisible from the natural world, through its pulsating movement that extends from the centre of the building all the way to the exterior of the facade — making the building appear alive,” said Mr Glubb, principal architect at Jasmax.