A roof made of boats

During Expo Dubai 2020, the Italian pavilion, designed by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota Building office, aims to show “an all-encompassing vision for reconfigurable architecture and circular design”, which includes recycled materials as well as a roof made of boat hulls to “set sail to new destinations” after deconstruction.

The pavilion was officially unveiled on 1 October this year as part of the World Expo. It features a curtain façade that consists of nautical ropes, made with two million recycled plastic bottles. The use of the nautical ropes and a localized cooling system integrated with misting allow for extensive shading, natural ventilation, and better thermal comfort. Other materials included in the pavilion are coffee grounds and orange peels as a coating, locally sourced sand, and algae.

The three boat hulls that form the pavilion’s roof vary in length from 40 to 50 metres. They were supported by 150 vertical steel pillars. The hulls themselves supported a wave-shaped roof membrane made of ETFE pillows and a layer of perforated thin metal sheets that filter the sunlight. The hulls are painted in the colours of the Italian flag, green, white and red.

The boat hulls also refer to the historical connections between the Italian and Arabian Peninsulas, thus hinting at the themes of both Italy’s participation in the Expo (“Beauty Connects People”) and Expo Dubai 2020 as a whole (“Connecting minds, creating the future”).

Photos: Michele Nastasi