Dubai: Nature lovers are bound to find something to revel in at every corner of the Poland Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, whether be it the stormy waters of the Baltic coast or timber sourced from the southern woodlands. By tapping into its diverse geography, the Central European country tells the world that it believes in ‘Creativity Inspired by Nature’ – a theme the pavilion will commit to through and through in its exhibition and architecture alike.
From afar, visitors will be greeted by a flock of migratory birds perched on the wooden structure of the pavilion, a nod to the Mobility District it is based in.
“Mobility is depicted in our pavilion’s huge kinetic sculpture that reminisces thousands of birds migrating from Poland to the Arabian Peninsula,” Adrian Malinowski, Commissioner General of the Poland Pavilion, said in an interview with Gulf News. “This is a natural [link] that comes to our minds when we talk of the relations and ties between [the two regions].”
Mobility is depicted in our pavilion’s huge kinetic sculpture that reminisces thousands of birds migrating from Poland to the Arabian Peninsula. This is a natural [link] that comes to our minds when we talk of the relations and ties between [the two regions].
Malinowski points to Poland’s convenient location on the world map, calling it the logistics centre of Europe and adding that Poles have been all around the world with 20 million making up the diaspora: “Mobility is pretty much in our gene code.”
Birds to flutter in the wind
The Poland Pavilion neatly divides its narrative into five chapters to help visitors visualise its concept of “nature merged with creativity”. And through this fusion, the country hopes to showcase inspiring solutions and technological breakthroughs.
“This time around we would like to express ourselves through the people that live in Poland and their creative traits,” adds Malinowski, who says the idea goes hand-in-hand with the Expo’s slogan of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.
Designed by Warsaw-based architectural firm WXCA, the three-storey pavilion is made almost entirely out of wood from the forests of South Eastern Poland, while the migratory birds on the facade are wrought from an aluminium alloy, fluttering in the wind due to their kinetic nature. For Poland, the sustainable choice of timber was plain and simple: wood would make for easy dismantling and repurposing later.
Experience Polish nature, art and gaming
On their journey, visitors can expect a voluntary team of 75 Polish university students to walk them through the pavilion. A total of 150 students from five higher institutions across Poland were selected as guides, each half to volunteer for three months at the World Expo. Malinowski says the pool of students is so diverse that the group speaks more than 50 languages altogether, ideal for receiving an equally diverse audience of the fair.
A consortium of three studios, Science Now, Stellar Fireworks and Tellart, is behind the pavilion’s creative storytelling that begins from the moment people start queueing.
1. Inspired by Nature
Five wooden basins filled with native flora are stationed near the entrance that offer a glimpse of landscapes unique to Poland, evoking all the senses.
While the visitors wait in the queueing area, they are introduced to Polish coasts, lakes and rivers, forests and wetlands, meadows and mountains through the eyes of illustrators, poets and more. Here, curious visitors can peer into vision goggles built into the basins for the complete natural experience.
2. A home for creativity
A traditional welcome awaits visitors inside, where they will find the highlight of the pavilion in the form of a multi-media art installation – ‘The Polish Table’.
Not your ordinary table, the imposing piece of furniture is a joint custom-made production of artists, engineers and artisans who used raw materials found in Poland to build their modules. The artistic collage features works of steel, copper, glass, aluminium, carbon fibres, wood and ceramics.
The multi-mission is a joint campaign between National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) and European Space Agency (ESA) to fetch samples from the Red Planet back home.
“We perceive the space industry as the future for development, just as the Emiratis do,” Malinowski said.
“Once you’re in Poland, you will find that hospitality of the people is centred around the Polish table – this is where we dine, have fun and invite our guests. You will always feel welcome,” Malinowski said.
He hopes that the installation will prompt communication between the guests of the pavilion, much like a majlis setting would in the Arab tradition.
Visitors can even interact with the table by speaking to it, the voice activated sensor being one of many installed into the building in light of the pandemic social distancing measures. This is your chance to learn how to say basic phrases in the Polish language such as ‘dzień dobry’ for ‘good morning’ and ‘dziękuję’ for ‘thank you’ at the table.
3. Spirit of ingenuity
On the second level of the pavilion, visitors will be greeted by a tree-like sculpture, home to five thematic clusters of the Polish economy with topics ranging from Nature to gaming.
- Nature and well-being
- Advanced manufacturing and craftsmanship
- Technology, innovation and science
- Design, fashion and crafts
- Modern culture and gaming
Built into the structure, there is digital media content that will be interspersed with physical artefacts, a grounding touch necessary for adding an interactive dimension to the visitor experience, and then further supplemented by interviews of the manufacturers.
“Not many people are aware that Poland is the third biggest exporter of digital entertainment goods in the world. Currently, we have a record number of gaming studios, and it is also the place to be when you are looking for a job in gaming development,” Malinowski said.
Poland is home to renowned developers such as CD Projekt, which is behind the fan-favourite fantasy video game series ‘The Witcher’. This niche will be given its own limelight in the latter half of the Expo run in 2022, where a weeklong Polish Games event will explore steps from manufacturing to publishing in the gaming industry.
4. Land of plenty
In this space, temporary exhibitions will rotate on, approximately, a weekly basis. Exhibits would include presentations on Poland’s regions, government entities, private sectors as well as institutions.
5. Landscapes of creativity
The fifth and final zone is a room packed with sensors, becoming a space that serves as a reminder of what we can achieve if we work together. Its collaborative and interactive nature owes to the proximity sensors and step detectors that keep touch points to zero – all visitors have to do is walk to different sections of the room to play.
Gamers have a good reason to hang out here as one of the interactive scenarios is linked to gaming. Hanging overhead will be 50 elliptical mirrors of six varying sizes, provided by Zięta Studio, that will blur the line between reality and imagination.
More than 800 events planned
An extensive calendar of more than 800 planned events will scale through not just the Polish pavilion grounds but across the Expo site for the 182 days. Among concerts, fashion shows and family-friendly events, Malinowski highlights three dates for the full Polish experience:
- November 11, 2021, Poland National Day: Look out for a piano concert led by one of the winners of the International Chopin Piano Competition, which is held every five years in Warsaw to honour the works of Polish pianist Frédéric Chopin.
- December 6, 2021, Polish-Arab Economic Forum: A day for matchmaking in the business realm, the event expects to attract hundreds of Polish entrepreneurs.
- December 7, 2021, Polish Day: A cultural fiesta on this day also awaits visitors.
Revamping for COVID-19
Visitor safety in what would be a post-pandemic era drove the pavilion organisers to redesign some of the exhibitions. Efforts included the installation of various sensors to replace physical contact and nano-copper coatings and UVC lamps to eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses.
Malinowski, who saw the yearlong postponement as an opportunity for country participants to step back and realign their exhibitions to address the new climate, said: “We’ve attracted more companies, institutions and agencies to be a part of the Polish journey at Expo 2020 since May.”
Poland Pavilion to get a twin
After Expo closes its doors on March 31, 2022, select country pavilions will be absorbed into District 2020, a future-ready smart city that will emerge in place of the exposition. Though the Poland Pavilion was built as a permanent structure, its post-Expo plans are still tentative.
What is certain, however, is that the pavilion will be rebuilt at a university back in Poland as part of its wood sciences campus.
- The writer is an intern with Gulf News.