Climb every mountain: how the Swiss pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is a symbol of recovery from Covid-19

Structural work is complete on pavilion that recreates experience of hiking in the fog-covered Swiss Alps

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Visitors to the Swiss pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will be able to walk through a cloud of fog to give them the feeling of hiking to the summit of a Swiss mountain, in a symbol of revival from the coronavirus pandemic.

Recreating a message of hope in difficult times, architects and engineers are preparing a special experience at the pavilion on the Dubai South Expo site.

A hill is being built from recycled stone, with high-tech sound and visuals to be added to recreate a panoramic view from the top of a mountain.

Structural work on the pavilion was completed on Monday.

In April 2016, Switzerland was the first country to confirm its participation at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Swiss Pavilion - front view rendering
The selected project, Reflections, designed by OOS (architecture), Bellprat Partner (scenography) Lorenz Eugster (landscaping), built by Expomobilia. (general contractor). Courtesy Swiss Pavilion Expo 2020 Dubai
The Swiss pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Courtesy: Swiss Pavilion Expo 2020 Dubai

Five years on, organisers say the 8.5 million Swiss franc ($9m) project is central to the country’s resurgence efforts.

"In these difficult times for our export economy, our pavilion is a symbol and a driving force for the recovery we all need," Manuel Salchli, commissioner general of the Swiss pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, told The National.

“The current health crisis has made us realise that we have to place greater emphasis on the value of solidarity and on international co-operation. As a result, Expo 2020 Dubai has turned into an essential global exchange platform.

“In these circumstances the Swiss pavilion activities are becoming even more valuable."

Planners promise a real fog with “millions of droplets forming a cloud above the ground".

The world awaits Expo 2020 Dubai:

The steel-frame pavilion, called Reflections, also makes uses of recycled concrete and large mirror panels.

“We will stage a unique experience of nature. Visitors will walk into a real sea of fog. This fog will give way to a sound and light show reproducing the passage from day to night over the Swiss Alps,” Mr Salchli said.

"The idea behind the sea of fog is inspired by a very unique and typical moment that we often experience in fall in Switzerland – hiking through a sea of fog and feeling this special emotion as the beautiful mountain panorama comes into view."

When visitors first approach the pavilion, they will see a large mirror facade and a red carpet before walking into the fog.

Expo guests will be fed fun facts about Switzerland, such as how people in the country eat about 10.3 kilograms of chocolate every year.

Tasting is on the cards for visitors, with a cafe set up by Swiss chocolate maker Sprüngli.

Exhibitions showing Swiss innovation will also be on display in line with Expo Dubai's themes of connecting the planet and people through opportunity and sustainability.

There are also plans for visits from the academic community and start-ups in Switzerland.

Work on the interior design and landscaping will finish in the next few months, with final construction to be completed by the end of August in time for the opening of the Expo in October.