Terra-The Sustainability Pavilion, Dubai Expo 2020, by Grimshaw Architects was declared as the Sustainable Project of the Year.

Matthew Utley, principal at Grimshaw Architects, said: “We are very honoured to win the Sustainable Project of the Year award for Terra-The Sustainability Pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai. It’s a group effort between the consultants and client team.”

Drawing inspiration from complex natural processes like photosynthesis, the dynamic form of the Pavilion is in service to its function, capturing energy from sunlight and freshwater from humid air. The relationship of building to the site, and its physical and cultural contexts is critical, as the facility’s strength lies in its capacity to demonstrate a new way of living sustainably in a challenging desert environment.

Sited in a prominent location, the Pavilion structure works in tandem with the considered landscape of demonstration gardens, winding pathways and shaded enclaves to create an aura of magic punctuated by the sights, smells and tactile opportunities of nature. The gardens are both experiential and functional, setting the stage for the exhibition contents within and creating shaded gathering areas that will manage and distribute crowds while providing retail, food and beverage opportunities.

When creating a building with the goal of generating its own energy and water in a harsh climate, the solution cannot be driven by a single aspect of the design. To achieve net-zero, the design required a series of technologies, building systems and design solutions to act in unison. This self-contained, micro-ecosystem resulted from a combination of strategies: optimizing the natural conditions inherent in its location; working with and within them to maximize efficiency, and supplementing them with pioneering sustainable technologies to create innovative solutions.

The Sustainability Pavilion is complemented by an installation of Energy Trees which contribute toward its goal of producing its own energy. Nineteen E-trees ranging from 15-18m in diameter are dispersed throughout the site and provide 28% of the energy required to power the building.