bureau^proberts and Accolade.Art have curated an exciting experience that connects people and landscape for the Australian Pavilion at Dubai Expo.
October 6th, 2021
On the 1st October the Expo 2020 Dubai opened to the world. Planned for last year, the much-anticipated Expo has now been realised and after the challenges of the pandemic, is set to become the destination for travellers.
With a theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ the focus of the Dubai Expo is on target for those communities and countries of the world readjusting to life after the initial impact of COVID-19. With more than 200 pavilions on site, 191 represented by individual countries, it is an event that shines the spotlight on culture, customs, trade and life through architecture, art and entertainment.
The Australian pavilion designed by bureau^proberts is a unique expression of Australia’s distinctive landscape with a cloud-like form suspended over folding timber. At night the cloud is illuminated and recreates the idea of a lightning bolt from an Australian thunderstorm.
Liam Proberts, bureau^proberts’ managing and creative director, describes the open-air spaces of the pavilion as key to capturing an Australian sensibility in the architecture.
“As a way of representing the open and inclusive nature of Australian people we wanted to ensure there would be no barriers to entering the pavilion. Central to the architectural experience is the open-air spaces of the forecourt, sheltered beneath the cloud canopy. This is where we envisage people from all corners of the globe will gather to share culture, cuisine and atmosphere we enjoy as Australians.” says Proberts.
The interior, however, is a journey through Australia like no other. Designed by Andrew Walsh AM, principal and artistic director of Accolade.Art with creative producer, Justin Weyers, the vision of Australia is dynamic and powerful. Walsh has the experience to deliver such a project with a stellar career that includes working on four Australian pavilions over the years. Add to this his delivery as executive producer and creative director of the opening and closing ceremonies of both the Athens Olympics and Melbourne Commonwealth Games, four Melbourne White Nights, numerous projects large and human-scale around the world, the Dubai Expo was always going to be something special.
“The mobility of ideas and people is how opportunities are created, cultures are brought closer together, lives enriched by societies working towards their collective future.” explained Walsh. “We have set out to make a pavilion experience that vibrantly brings together the spirit and energy of Australia that is informative and at the same time fun and entertaining.”
Upon approaching the entrance of the pavilion, a world of colour awaits, as the visitor passes through a mural-lined welcome tunnel with designs by First Nations artist Josh Muir. The forms are graphic, the colours dynamic and, interspersed with the images of children and Australian innovators voicing a welcome to the crowd, it’s a powerful start to the adventure. There is narrative throughout this journey by a young Indigenous girl, Annika, and the visitor sees Australia through her eyes.
The audience enters a theatre with an orbital dome that features an immersive ‘Star Gallery’ and here the story of ‘Blue Sky Dreaming’ creates a visual journey from the perspective of First Nations People through Coalsack, the ‘Emu in the sky’ and the most prominent nebula in the Milky Way.
The audience then moves through to the next theatre, the ‘Blue Sky Dreaming Gallery’ and Annika’s Journey. In this gallery the audience is drawn towards a central structure emitting light. Suspended three metres off the ground, it pulses with rhythm and then slowly rises up into the roof. The visitor experiences the dawning of sunrise that symbolises the new opportunities that are awaiting in Australia.
In this section of the pavilion the visual is all-encompassing and completely surrounds and engulfs the visitor. The videos feature the Australian innovative sectors through the human aspect to showcase progress in science, technology, medicine and communications happening around Australia today.
After 20 minutes the spectacular is over and the visitors make their way to the outside. It’s a glorious show and the videos and imagery combine to present Australian life on every level, whether that is through agriculture, arts and culture, education, health, manufacturing, technology, energy or tourism. The result is a snapshot of life in Australia – on the land and in the cities – and everything in between.
It is anticipated that more than 1.7 million people will visit the Australian pavilion and although it is not the largest or most expensive in the Expo, it is intended to be an entertaining, educational and enlightening place that also provides fun for all.
This beautifully crafted exposition of Australian life has been artfully expressed through the imagery that presents Australia as an innovative and creative country but also one whose landscape is incomparable in its diversity and magnificence.
The pavilion is a credit to the creatives who have realised a joyful experiential journey that showcases the best that Australia offers.
Dubai Expo 2020 runs from 1st October 2021 until 31st March 2022.
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