Dubai: The water-submerged grasslands of the Pantanal region are the world’s largest floodplains, and Brazil lays claim to most of its 195,000 square kilometres. Even the Amazon basin, drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries, has 60 per cent of its area contained within north of Brazil. With water quite literally running through its veins, it is no wonder that the South American country chose an aquatic-based experience for the visitors of Expo 2020 Dubai.
“You are here in the UAE, in this beautiful country, then when you come to the Brazil Pavilion, you are [stepping] into a world made of water,” says Fernando Luís Lemos Igreja, Ambassador of Brazil to the UAE, in an interview with Gulf News. He adds that the pavilion journey is meant to be sensorial in all aspects, from sight through to touch, with water as its central, cohesive element.
You are here in the UAE, in this beautiful country, then when you come to the Brazil Pavilion, you are [stepping] into a world made of water.
There are three large tanks, hidden from public view, that will recycle 260 cubic metres of the pavilion’s shallow water mirror making up majority of the ground – a sustainable approach that reflects the pavilion’s theme of ‘Together for Sustainable Development’: “Brazil is a big food producer, and for the development of our agribusiness, we must show how things are done in a sustainable way,” says Igreja on the country opting to showcase in the Sustainability District at the world fair.
Dip your toes into refrigerated water
A structure of steel with white membranes, measuring 48 metres wide and 18.5 metres tall, stretched taut between its poles is the simple sum of the Brazil Pavilion. Karen Fernandes Jones, Chief Operating Officer of the pavilion’s organising body, Apex Brasil, says that the edifice resembles a cube floating in water, containing a micro-climate to keep itself cool and welcoming.
A collaborative effort by architecture studios Ben-Avid, JPG.ARQ and MMBB Arquitetos has brought the design to life. It features a compluvium opening in the roof, much like an inverted cone often seen in the roofs of ancient Greco-Romanian homes for collecting rainwater. According to Jones, in lieu of rainwater rushing in, warm air is meant to escape through this opening while simultaneously allowing cooler currents to sink in.
“There is a system [in place] to refrigerate the water,” says Igreja, adding that the majority of the pavilion will not rely on air-conditioning.
According to the pavilion organisers, walking in water is not only allowed but highly encouraged for the complete sensorial experience. Visitors can wade into the water, its depth ranging from 6cm to 18cm, without getting wet thanks to the solutions provided on site to keep their feet dry. From this ideal vantage point, they will be able to take in all of the audio-visual projections surrounded by a reflecting pool of water, as intended.
Experience a cinematic view of Brazil
Modelled after the stilt houses built along the riverbanks of northern Brazil, the pavilion's structure also doubles as a projection surface; its expansive fabric walls and ceiling will showcase the sights, sounds and scents of the South American country.
“A lot of technology is being used to create what will be the main attraction of the pavilion,” says Jones. “The pavilion will come alive as soon as the sun goes down.”
A lot of technology is being used to create what will be the main attraction of the pavilion. The pavilion will come alive as soon as the sun goes down.
The overarching theme of the pavilion trickles down to the three ways that Brazil believes the world can bring about sustainable development: ‘Together for People’, ‘Together for Nature’ and ‘Together for Tomorrow’.
One hundred and twenty-five projectors fixed to and around the two-storey concrete building (housed within the cube) will display the subthemes through a collection of images layered with soundtracks – sometimes transporting the visitors to the teeming Amazonia and other times inviting them to the world-famous annual Brazilian Carnival.
Agricultural innovations will vouch for the country’s commitment to a better tomorrow. “We want to showcase that Brazil does not only produce food and commodities but also high technology,” adds Igreja.
One such innovation is in the field of agricultural aviation, where an aircraft manufactured by the Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Embraer solely operates on ethanol fuel – the world’s first aircraft to do so – which releases less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel.
Number of projectors in the Brazil Pavilion
From largest jiu-jitsu event to Portuguese language project
While the permanent exhibition will be an immersive experience, the dry areas of the pavilion will host Brazilian firms interested in showcasing their products and services to the audience of the world fair.
On the first floor of the building, visitors can enjoy photo galleries and events as well.
On November 15, 2021, the Brazil Pavilion will also stage the world’s largest training session for jiu-jitsu, a Brazilian branch of the Japanese martial art that was developed by Carlos Gracie and his brothers in the 1920s. The UAE still holds a Guinness World Record for the largest jiu-jitsu lesson attended by 2,481 participants in 2015, which it will surpass this Expo.
“Jiu-jitsu is one of the points of contact between Brazil and the UAE. We have more than 600 Brazilian coaches here, mostly in Abu Dhabi but also in other emirates,” says Igreja. “We thought it was very important to express this bridge between the two countries at Expo 2020 Dubai.”
In another cultural representation, Brazil will celebrate the Portuguese language by inviting singers and artists, whose works will be on display.
A pavilion conducive to a safe environment
According to the Ambassador, the pavilion was never meant to be a place for gathering but designed to allow visitors to pass through to their next stop. Its construction, however, faced challenges with the contractors initially unable to travel to the country. This also included sanitation of the site, testing protocols, capacity control and delivery of building materials, all of which factored into a delay.
“I think that Expo 2020 Dubai will be a moment for the world to say that we have recovered from the pandemic – it is a new start for all of us. And, of course, Brazil must be a part of this movement.”
I think that Expo 2020 Dubai will be a moment for the world to say that we have recovered from the pandemic – it is a new start for all of us. And, of course, Brazil must be a part of this movement.
Because of the Brazil Pavilion’s open-space concept, the natural circulation of air within makes it conducive to a safe environment. Post-Expo plans for the country are still tentative, but if the need for dismantling ever arises, Brazil has made sure the membrane and steel making up the pavilion will gain a second life elsewhere.
- The writer is an intern with Gulf News.