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The Malaysia Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is all set to welcome guests. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Nestled between the Sustainability District and Mobility District is Malaysia’s ‘Rainforest Canopy’ Pavilion. The architectural marvel blends esoteric design with animation elements and use of technology to deliver an immersive experience, highlighting the bond between man and nature.

Spanning an area of 1,234sqm, the pavilion is the first Net Zero Carbon initiative (meaning, all materials will be re-used after the event) at Expo 2020 Dubai. Here, visitors will take on a journey of forest conservation and sustainable agri-commodities that have shaped the socio-economic development of Malaysia.

Expo 2020 Dubai will officially open to the public on October 1. On Thursday, Gulf News was allowed an exclusive sneak peek into the Malaysia Pavilion.

Before walking in, one will not miss the waterfall effect against the backdrop of a desert landscape. The pavilion features the use of Meranti wood for its facade. Light poles as high as 15 metres were added not only for aesthetics, but were also designed to sway with the wind to give visitors the feel of being inside a rainforest. At night, the poles are lit with hundreds of LED lights to create a host of flickering fireflies — truly a must-see.

The exhibition halls are suspended on very long slender legs, hovering four to six metres above the ground and the exhibition halls are like “touching the ground lightly, evoking references to a tropical jungle”.

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A dance performance in progress at the Malaysia Pavilion. The pavilion will showcase Malaysia's cultural aspects. Image Credit: Supplied

Meandering river

Water feature is a major element of the Malaysia Pavilion. Before entering it, one will have to walk on meandering pathway, which is designed like a river stream. Water comes from the top of the pavilion and snakes all the way down the ramp, which interestingly has a suspension bridge feel while walking on it.

According to the Malaysia Pavilion organisers, the edifice is designed to reduce carbon emissions by using 25.7 per cent less energy. There is also a solar rooftop that provides 10 per cent of energy requirement while LED lighting is used and there is a high reflectance roof as well as self-shading. The Meranti wood used for the pavilion was harvested under the Sustainable Forest Management and Selective Management System practises adopted by Malaysia and the pavilion itself is made of a lightweight structure that can easily be dismantled for reuse after the Expo.

Commitment to sustainability

Speaking to Gulf News, Michelle Lau Sook Yee, the Malaysia Pavilion Director, said the ‘Rainforest Canopy’ is a showcase and testament to Malaysia’s strong commitment to environmental protection and sustainable development.

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Michelle Lau Sook Yee, the Malaysia Pavilion Director, Expo 2020 Dubai, at the Malaysian Pavilion. Malaysia’s flora and fauna are the main showcase at the pavilion. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

“Malaysia recognises and appreciates the role of our rainforest as the lung of the planet and this importance has never been greater than at present with the challenge of climate change. We are proud to be a tropical country that recognises this importance an we are committed to protecting the ancient biosphere for humankind,” she explained.

The theme of the Malaysia Pavilion is ‘Energising Sustainability’, divided into four sub-segments: ‘Energising Today’ is about forest conservation and sustainable agri-commodities; ‘Energising Tomorrow’ is Malaysia’s commitment to become a developed and high-income nation with science, technology and innovation as the main thrusts; ‘Energising Harmony’ is about cultural diversity; and ‘Energising Business’ is geared towards trade collaborations and investments.

Rainforest and ‘The Butterfly Effect’

To drive home the point of environmental stewardship, Malaysian Pavilion has adopted the ‘Butterfly Effect’ as its brand campaign. They said: “A small change can make bigger changes happen and one small incident can have a big impact on the future. ”The #MyButterflyEffect Brand Campaign for the Malaysia Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai aims to extend the journey to inspire a sustainable socio-economic and environmental future for all,” Malaysian organisers added.

“We want to take significant actions that promote green growth, that would inspire others to also act or to create ripple effects. Even though we are a relatively small emerging market it doesn’t mean Malaysia cannot make a big difference. The world needs leadership inspiration from nations big and small, emerging and developed. We are a rainforest advocate, leading renewable energy producer, and a nation delivering on our plans,” they continued.

LED columns

Malaysia’s flora and fauna are the main showcase at the pavilion and visitors will definitely experience what it feels like, being inside a Malaysian rainforest, with the pavilion’s light-and-shade also involving all the senses.

After the rainforest canopy, one will go inside the next room showcasing sustainable agri-commodity and then on to a room filled with LED columns, where one will learn about Malaysia’s future directions focusing on science, technology, innovation and economy.

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In one of the rooms filled with LED columns inside the pavilion, visitors will learn about Malaysia’s future directions focusing on science, technology and innovation. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Another interesting canopy is a large hanging LED Cube that bursts with 3D visuals that will create a mesmerising experience for visitors. Organisers said the key message of this installation is about Net Zero Carbon emissions.

The other canopies inside the Malaysia Pavilion are about a sustainable lifestyle and how Malaysia incorporates Smart City elements for further urbanisation. There is also a canopy that illustrates the integration of digital technologies in keeping pace with governance, resource management, environmental protection, mobility and commerce.

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Asian food and hospitality

Of course, a visit to the Malaysia Pavilion is not complete without ‘tasting’ Malaysian delicacies. A must after the rainforest visit is to have a cup of piping hot milk tea beverage called Teh Tarik. This goes well with Kue Lapis, a traditional snack of steamed colourful layered soft rice flour pudding, and Cucur Udang or Malaysian prawn fritters.

One can also wind down by enjoying Malaysian cultural performances at the pavilion’s amphitheatre.