One of the most elegant and sublime pavilions, a work of art, mature, educational, inspiring experience. A pavilion that does not impose anything on visitors “- this is how 17 judges from all over the world described the Polish pavilion at EXPO in Dubai by the Polish studio WXCA and the Swiss studio Bellprat Partner. The award-winning structure perfectly reflected the intentions of the creators: the balance of the building, the subtlety of expression, the idea of mobility expressed through the work with birds in flight.
– This image of a flying herd quickly became the Instagram spot of Expo in Dubai – recalls Marta Sękulska-Wrońska of WXCA, co-author of the pavilion. – We knew from the beginning that we wanted to place the birds on the outside of the pavilion and that the facade would cast a shadow, as if to address the visitors with Kochanowski’s words: “Guest, sit under my tray”. In the language of architecture, we tried to tell about Polish creativity inspired by nature, human coexistence with it and our shared responsibility for the planet. We wanted the building and the entire exhibition to create a cohesive, unforgettable experience – explains the architect.
The pavilion in the form of a modular body reminiscent of containers, with the dominant motif of natural wood, appearing both inside and on the facade, a famous, kinetic installation around it like a flock of birds in motion – that is how the creators of the polish pavilion and the whole exhibition tried to convey the ideas of ecology and collaboration on which they built their architectural story.
Visitors were not only surprised by the avant-garde construction, but also by what awaited them inside. Guided by a lighting installation that imitated their movements, they could go to the first floor to admire the tree of spatial cubes that encouraged their own exploration, which made it possible to learn about Polish inventions, products of different sectors of the economy, inspired by the wisdom flowing from nature.
– By looking at the temporary exhibitions of the regions it was possible to see how, by working together locally, we influence our immediate environment, the larger community, and finally how we as individuals influence the whole world. When visiting our pavilion, the guests could feel that they are an integral part of something bigger, and that their actions matter – explains Marta Sękulska-Wrońska. – We also tried to show how creativity can be in close contact with nature and make you think that we are all part of it, and that diversity is our great strength. The World’s Fair also has an educational dimension, so I hope our work inspired others to use natural resources wisely and reminded us that the future of the planet depends on us – adds the co-creator of the building and exhibition.
However, it was not without problems. The creators of the structure faced many challenges – especially the time pressure. Marta Sękulska-Wrońska says that the project, which formed the basis for the first tender, was completed in a record time of two months, and the entire WXCA team devoted themselves, even over the weekend, to polishing all the details. Difficulties also arose in the selection of materials needed for work on the already approved project.
– We wanted the pavilion to reflect the idea of mobility and circular economy, so we focused on a modular structure and wooden panels that can be reused – says the co-creator. – In the United Arab Emirates, however, this turned out to be a formal problem, as certain regulations are lacking. We were suggested to use sheet metal which, when painted, would look like wood. We didn’t want to do it, it was about presenting our country and its achievements and technology, faithfully reproducing reality and not painting the grass green. Fortunately, after diplomatic intervention by the then Minister of Development and the ambassador, we managed to solve the problem.
The building has been awarded many times. He received not only the top prize in the World Expo Awards competition organized by the Exhibitor Magazine, in which 17 experts from around the world recognized him as the best in its category, but also the Lazar Khidekel Prize for innovative and ecological solutions in architecture and a silver medal in the interior design category, awarded by the World Exhibitions Office – Bureau International des Expositions.
And the Polish studio WXCA is not slowing down. In the capital itself, for example, he is responsible for the revitalization of the Pole Mokotowskie Park, which was intended to increase biodiversity and water retention – therefore, even if there were to be dismantled several thousand square meters of the pond. WXCA’s architects also developed a design concept for Warsaw’s Pięć Rogów Square, which previously had one major intersection. The architectural vision turned it into a pedestrian-friendly place, an elegant square that attracts residents and tourists, the details of which should remind of the need to raise environmental awareness.