Michelangelo’s 'David' is star of Italy pavilion at Expo 2020

Architects say they walked the talk on sustainability from 3D scans of the statue to an unusual rope facade

Life-size model of Michelangelo's 'David' on display on the first day of Expo 2020 in Dubai.
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A majestic model of Michelangelo’s 16th-century marble statue of David is drawing crowds to the Italian pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Visitors queue up and spend time clicking photos and taking videos as the exhibit allows them eye-level access to the copy of the Renaissance masterpiece.

The statue is the star of an exhibition called The Theatre of Memories.

One section has strikingly beautiful hand-painted tiles by Sicilian artists.

Memory is the mother of muses and inspires art. Without memory we have no science and no art is what David symbolises
Davide Rampello, Italy pavilion

Enshrining memories is critical to inspiring new art, said Davide Rampello, artistic director of the Italy pavilion.

“He [David] is like a witness to the theatre of memories, Mr Rampello told The National.

“Memory is the mother of muses and inspires art.

“Without memory we have no science and no art is what David symbolises.”

Experts said the model is the most advanced reproduction in the world.

In an exhaustive process that included aging the model to replicate cracks and erosion, engineers scanned each microscopic detail of the original marble statue at the Accademia Gallery in Florence before it was 3D printed in Italy.

The decision to use technology to create the model instead of using a plaster cast was part of a laboratory approach to the pavilion.

The pavilion roof is made of three upturned boat hulks that can sail when the World Fair ends and the facade is a curtain of ropes.

It is one of only a few pavilions that does not use air conditioning and relies instead on natural climate control strategies.

Carlo Ratti, co-architect of the Italy pavilion and head of Carlo Ratti Associati, was conscious that all the material used did not end up in landfill after six months when the World Fair ends.

“We tried to explore circularity in architecture. We wanted to experiment so that everything we use here is recyclable or reusable,” he said.

“The ropes that are the facade of the pavilion are made from two million recycled plastic water bottles.

“These were turned into 70 kilometres of rope and then tomorrow the ropes will be reused again.

“So the idea to reuse is very important.”

Updated: October 02, 2021, 3:48 AM