Terra, A harmony with nature once more

Asma Tawil
Lundi 21 février 2022

According to National Geographic Society, “Sustainability is the practice of using natural resources responsibly, so they can support both present and future generations”. While the concept of sustainability is a relatively new scheme, the trend as a whole has roots in social justice, conservationism and internationalism. By the end of the twentieth centuries, many of these ideas had come together in the call for “sustainable development”. But sustainability is not just an environmental movement, it starts by our daily choices as societies look to intelligent strategies for future sustainable living. The question that arises at this level, is it achievable or just a call? 

In Expo 2020, Terra-sustainability pavilion was not just a design, rather it was the basis of ideation to inspire the world and set sustainability as a criterion for competing. It is where we explore the relationship between nature and people and pushing people to think about how could they respect nature in the way they consume the things, on this wise, they lead their everyday life. The U-K based architects, who designed the pavilion, focused on the capacity of communities to evolve toward greater social, economic, and ecological value. They prioritize the strategies energy efficiency optimizations and on-site energy generation as well as on site water reuse. This is because water and energy are the key needs of challenging for the future generations as their procurement to the whole world is becoming quasi- impossible. With an aspirational goal of becoming a net zero energy, the major design of the pavilion was inspired by nature. A giant solar canopy with over a thousand solar panels, and 18 energy trees in the gardens that rotate to follow the path of the sun. The main roof canopy design was inspired form the desert Ghaf Tree (same shape, same concept), and the other energy trees were inspired from the Socotra dragon tree, also a native tree in the Arabian sea. In terms of what they did uniquely for energy targets, they employed a new technology to cool the canopy over 130m of height and use high value recyclable materials for walls and roof to reduce cooling energy demand. The shading provided by the canopy was also been studied to reduce the energy consumption of the internal exhibition spaces through reducing the solar irradiation they receive. This was the most important step in the energy reduction and optimization process for a country having a deserted climate. On the other hand, to reach zero water consumption, no water from the Dubai potable water network were used in operation. Rather, they have got a technology that collects water from the air and a greywater recycling system that aims to reduce water use by up to 75%. The pavilion supplies 100% of its water use from on-site sources. Several strategies were invented to achieve this target, including wastewater reuse and sewer mining. In fact, water usage in the Middle East is a scarce and this is the most common challenging issue that is becoming more and more hard to face in the upcoming decades. Moreover, rainwater is collected and percolated into the landscape to recharge the ground water and being extractable for using within the building with net zero water aspiration.  

This is 100% self-sustaining building in the middle of a desert showing that sustainability is achievable anywhere. This pavilion will be a permanent structure which will become a sustainable museum after Expo. They wanted to demonstrate that we could do an entirely self-sufficient building technically with an integration for the ecological and energetic factors. This is what all buildings must do within the next decade.