Expo 2020 Dubai: Monet-inspired France Pavilion set to catch the eye

French flair on show in dazzling design, as construction work nears completion

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Construction work on the France Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai site will be completed in April.

Thousands of solar tiles are being fitted to cover the roof and facade, with each panel drawing inspiration from the palette of Claude Monet's famous Water Lilies oil paintings.

Light will be a major element, with visitors set to walk under a canopy that doubles as an artificial sky – out of which waves of light will burst and retreat.

"The France Pavilion construction is nearing completion and we are on track for delivery in April," Erik Linquier, commissioner general for France at Expo 2020 Dubai, told The National.

"We are currently finalising work for the installation of photovoltaic solar tiles that harness light to produce photoelectric energy, as well as the cladding of metal and LED panels that will cover the facade."

The insulated shell will also protect visitors from the sun.

A water treatment plant is being installed to irrigate plants and for use in toilets, reducing the consumption of fresh water.

"This initiative, which is nearing completion, allows a partially autonomous energy system, as more than 80 per cent of the energy consumed by the pavilion will be generated by the sun," Mr Linquier said.

“Further energy savings include a treatment plant that aims to reduce the water supply by 30 per cent by recycling the wastewater and supplying the irrigation system.”

Kiosks, boutiques and restaurants will be installed on the pavilion promenade in the summer, in the last phase.

Standing 21 metres high, with a facade covering 1,800 square metres and a forecourt of 1,000 square metres, the France Pavilion will be the eighth highest and fifth largest pavilion on the Expo site.

It offers views of the Mobility pavilion, the Al Wasl dome and the towering entry gates.

Space exploration will be a key theme.

The world fair will have a celestial fan in astronaut Thomas Pesquet, a French Expo ambassador.

He is currently training for his second flight to the International Space Station on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to launch next month.

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet is an ambassador for the French pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Courtesy: France Expo 2020 Dubai

Mr Pesquet will visit the Dubai site once he completes his mission.

"He will closely follow the inauguration of Expo 2020 from the International Space Station, from where he will closely support the France Pavilion until we welcome him on site as soon as he lands back on Earth in 2022," Mr Linquier said.

The ground floor will be dedicated to permanent exhibitions, while the upper level will host events highlighting companies' contributions towards reaching UN sustainable development goals.

The higher floor can accommodate 320 guests for conferences.

France's pavilion is traditionally among the most popular attractions at expo events. Courtesy: France Expo 2020 Dubai   

Plans will incorporate social distancing for visitors as they walk across different levels of the building.

“The France Pavilion is historically one of the most visited pavilions during World Expos," said Mr Linquier, who is also chairman of Cofrex, the firm implementing the project.

"As we expect to welcome 25,000 daily visitors, we are working very closely with the organisers to provide a seamless experience, as we adhere to Expo 2020's Covid-19 health and safety guidelines."

The budget for France's participation at Expo is €28 million ($33.45m).

Half of this amount is for the construction, design and maintenance of the pavilion. The remainder covers operating costs and the six-month programme of events.

France's budget for Expo 2020 Dubai is twice the amount the country spent at the 2015 Milan Expo.

Mr Linquier said the pavilion was ideal for French artists, entrepreneurs, academics, companies and start-ups to expand internationally.

“It is also our ambition to showcase the values ​​of daring, optimism and collective sense,” he said.

"I strongly believe that France's participation at Expo 2020 Dubai will contribute to the French government's re-launch strategy to maintain a strong and visible presence globally, illustrating the relevance, determination and desire of companies to build a sustainable society."

Expo pavilion renderings