The Expo 2020 Dubai is a global stage for renowned architects from all over the world to represent countries whilst showcasing design finesse. With an overarching theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, it is a platform promoting partnerships for innovation, inclusion and understanding. The design for the India Pavilion seeks to exhibit the substantial growth the country has witnessed through the years after Independence, becoming a land of limitless opportunities even for international investors. For the prestigious project, the Architects have amalgamated the ethos of the country’s mobility with technology that infuses a sensory stimulus into the Pavilion. The India Pavilion is one of the largest pavilions at the Expo, at par with pavilions of countries such as USA and China. It is one of the three Pavilions at the Expo which would be retained for posterity after the event and would be a part of the Legacy Phase, Dubai.
Dikshu Kukreja, Harvard graduate and Managing Principal CPKA, explains, “Architecture is an amalgamation of creativity and engineering. For us, representing India on an international platform meant developing a design that creates a meaningful dialogue between the tangible and intangible aspects of the built form. This was a very unique project to work on because it is showcased on a global stage where you have an assortment of architecture from around the world. How does one capture or freeze India and its diversity into one building? Does one just make a hash of different architectural styles from the South, North, West and East of India? Or does one make an amalgamation of their unique features using all the clichés like arches and domes, or do we do something different? These were the questions we were faced with. We felt that the best way to communicate an India on the move, the transformational aspects of the country so to speak, was to bring that dynamism to the façade. We chose to represent this using a kinetic façade with rotating elements that can become a blank canvas given to India to tell its story. Weaving technology and craftsmanship together, we were able to bring forth a concept which befittingly capsules the diverse cultures of our country whilst captivating the visitors through enthralling storytelling.”
India is one of the fastest-growing nations in the world. Interaction through celebrations, travel, and community gatherings are a few things that keep the human spirit alive. Mindfulness in architecture is the word of the 21st century, bringing together eco-conscious and technology in a holistic manner. Through the Pavilion, we hope to pay homage to the cultural multifariousness of our country whilst nurturing the idea of India as a pool of opportunities for investment and collaboration. As one of the fastest growing nations in the world, the design of the Pavilion imbibes the theme of ‘India on the move’. The façade comprises 600 individual blocks that move using kinetic architecture. The design also celebrates India’s 75 years of Independence. Through seventy-five identified stories, the façade would engage visitors through the charm of storytelling through the day – familiarizing them with the history, geography and literature of the country. In the evening, the façade will turn into a vibrant show with sound, light and projections, almost as if hosting a festival.
The awkward shape of the trapezoidal site has been designed to create visual memorabilia and utilise the land to its full potential. The planning of the site is such that it condenses the vastness of India’s culture and cityscape within it. Different design elements such as the radiant sun-dial and the elaborate amphitheatre are seamlessly tied into a single harmonious unit. The pavilion is the tallest at the Expo. We used sustainability as one of the key design features, integrating climatological influences of the region with technology. Movement in the façade helps control factors such as sunlight and wind inside the Pavilion which is helpful in the regulation of natural daylight and ventilation. We also incorporated skylight in the design to optimise natural daylight in the interiors. Using solar panels installed on the terrace, we maximised the benefit from Dubai’s harsh sunlight. The chakra is designed using steel construction with modular steel members that can be recycled.
Interestingly, Dikshu recalls, “The pavilion design as an architectural process is quite novel in that a single architect designed 82 different design options for the pavilion. The process began three years ago in September 2018. There were so many possibilities to represent India in a single pavilion. And, of course, the design had to go through the many stakeholders and government officials involved right up to the Prime Minister’s office. The whole process took six months.”
The interior design makes the journey inclusive and interactive for the visitors by employing the use of latest cutting-edge and innovative technologies. The visitors will get to witness both, physical exhibits as well as immersive digital content which would showcase various sectors in the thriving Indian economy. Such close integration of creative and technical approaches is exhilarating, constructing an imaginative atmosphere for the visitors. Programs such as Make in India, Digital India, Skill India and Start-Up India campaigns would be featured as the key highlights, displaying the country’s capabilities at an international level. The interior fit-outs have been designed by Muse International. The India experience inside the pavilion is designed under eleven themes. As one enters the building, one is fascinated by the starry space – guiding them through India’s journey in space exploration. As a land of tranquillity and healing, live yoga performers will have projections of mandalas behind them. A walk inside the giant radium will help the visitors to understand the many benefits of Ayurveda. On the first floor, the colours of India in an immersive environment are showcased with LED walls enveloping the visitors in a heritage experience. Mesmerising installations also help exhibit India’s diverse culture. The second floor will display India as a land of endless opportunities. A state-of-the-art theatre hall will be open for meetings, conferences, cultural shows, reception as well as film screenings.
The India Pavilion amplifies the country’s position on the global map as a thriving hub of limitless possibilities integrating a futuristic approach and mobility while projecting the Indian story in a global narrative.
Location: Dubai, UAE
Site: 1.2 acres
Built-up area: 1, 00, 000 sq. ft.
Year of completion: 2021
Principal Architect: C P Kukreja Architects
Project Management Contract (PMC): NBCC DWC-LLC
Business Facilitators: Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI)
Client/ Owner: Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India
Interior fit-outs: Muse International
Digital Content curation: Moving Pixels