netherlands pavilion expo 2020
The Netherlands Pavilion displays a harmonious trifecta of water, energy and food solutions packed into a biotope. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: In the year 2050, the world’s population is projected to reach 10 billion, a nearly three billion jump from our numbers today, according to the United Nations. With multiplying mouths to feed and reasons to protect the Earth, the Netherlands will contribute its own innovative solution by uniting water, energy and food solutions at Expo 2020 Dubai.

A vertical farm within a biotope

Rising from the heart of the Netherlands Pavilion is a 19-metre-tall green cone that grows oyster mushrooms on the inside while the exterior is home to small edible plants. Constructed in the vision of Rotterdam-based V8 Architects, the pavilion is better described as a biotope, transforming into a mini, self-sufficient climate system that harvests its own water, energy and food naturally.

The ‘Rainmaker’ technology – co-developed by SunGlacier Technologies and Dutch artist Ap Verheggen – extracts 800 litres of water daily from desert air using solar energy instead of relying on conventional water sources such as rainfall or rivers. It captures air through a wind-suction chimney connected to the cone that extends beyond the pavilion ceiling, powered by plastic or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) solar panels on the roof.

While these cells, crafted by award-winning solar designer Marjan van Aubel, convert sunlight for irrigation, they also function as transparent colourful skylights that let in plenty of sunshine for the plants growing on the food cone. Van Aubel’s lightweight solar panels resemble stained glass with overlapping lines that create a Moire effect, which will paint the pavilion in varied shades.

Inside, little to no sunlight and air heavy with humidity make the perfect conditions for a mushroom nursery. Adding on to the favourable climate is the chimney’s adiabatic cooling system that removes heat from evaporated water and releases it as cool air into the cone.

Corn curtains and mycelium flooring

True to the Sustainability District it’s stationed in, the Netherlands Pavilion is committed to biodegradable, recyclable and reusable materials.

Amsterdam-based design agency Buro Belén uses polylactic acid (PLA), a natural substitute for plastic derived from corn starch, to manufacture a 26-metre-wide and 12-metre-long curtain, which will separate the business lounge from the visitors’ area.

mycelium mogu
Italian interior design firm Mogu will supply the pavilion's lounge with floor tiles and acoustic walls that have a mycelium composite core, the fungal roots of a mushroom. Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Instagram/@mogumycelium

Floor tiles and acoustic walls in the lounge area will have a mycelium composite core, the fungal roots of a mushroom, sourced from Italian interior design firm Mogu.

Sand trails post-Expo

About 70 per cent of the Netherlands Pavilion is made entirely of steel; to put it precisely, steel borrowed from Dutch firm Meever & Meever’s Abu Dhabi branch.

The country will make good on its low-carbon footprint promise by returning sheet piling and steel tubing back to the supplier to be repurposed for other local projects after Expo wraps up its six-month run, leaving behind nothing but the desert sand.

- The writer is an intern with Gulf News.