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UAE Pavilion by BIG at 2023 International Horticultural Expo

The UAE Pavilion at the 2023 International Horticultural Expo in Doha, Qatar, showcases the region’s environmental preservation and agricultural innovation. Inspired by the deep roots and intertwined branches of the local Ghaf Tree, the pavilion design signed by architecture practice BIG—Bjarke Ingels Group reveals a dome-shaped labyrinth made out of rammed earth, gradually rising towards its center. The structure frames a series of exhibition galleries and 32 gardens, creating an immersive experience of the UAE’s diverse landscape, from desert to oasis and sea to mountains. 

UAE Pavilion by BIG | image © Shoayb Khattab

drawing on natural systems and vernacular practices

As described by BIG’s Partner & Head of Landscape, Giulia Frittoli, the UAE Pavilion at the International Horticultural Expo (see more here) responds to the climate crisis by looking to the country’s natural systems and centuries-old vernacular architecture. ‘Meandering paths lead to an outdoor oasis, which is organized as a series of thematic gardens that explore the power of plants as a source of food, health, and energy. By weaving together architecture and landscape into a seamless experience, the UAE Pavilion shares the story of humanity’s inseparable bonds with nature,’ she notes. 

BIG sculpts rammed earth dome for UAE pavilion at doha's international horticultural expo
 a dome-shaped labyrinth made out of rammed earth | image © Seeing Things

an open dome of rammed earth filled with gardens

The team at BIG primarily uses locally sourced materials, including rammed earth for the walls, which includes 90% soil and 10% cement for binding. The roof structure is formed by wooden beams topped with palm leaves for shading, and limestone rocks are used to pave surfaces. Throughout the gardens, guests of the International Horticultural Expo can explore native and non-native plants cultivated or found in the wild. The landscaping and greenhouse include 65 species and 6,609 plants with edible plants, fruit trees, medicinal plants, a bee garden, flowers, spices, shrubs, grasses, industrial plants, and perennials. The greenhouse is filled with fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, bell peppers, figs, and citrus fruits. Overall, BIG has selected the plants to highlight species that contribute to the UAE’s agricultural legacy, from past to present and future. 

BIG sculpts rammed earth dome for UAE pavilion at doha's international horticultural expo
inspired by the deep roots and branches of the local Ghaf Tree | image © Seeing Things

BIG sculpts rammed earth dome for UAE pavilion at doha's international horticultural expo
image © Shoayb Khattab

BIG sculpts rammed earth dome for UAE pavilion at doha's international horticultural expo
meandering paths | image © Seeing Things

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