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MEAN* (Middle East Architecture Network) Designs ‘Luminescents’, a cathedral-like pavilion for MANE

Project name:
Luminescents Pavilion
Architecture firm:
MEAN* (Middle East Architecture Network)
World Trade Center, Dubai, UAE
Alex Jeffries Photography Group
Principal architect:
Riyad Joucka
Design team:
Wael Nasrallah, Amro Mansy
Built area:
126 m²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Structural engineer:
Tools used:
Rhinoceros 3D, Grasshopper
Forged Steel Structure painted Bronze Hanging Fabric

The stimulating space is a result of cross-pollinating architecture with the craft of fragrance making. 

MANE, a pioneering French group and one of the worldwide leaders of the Fragrance industry, commissioned MEAN (Middle East Architecture Network) to design a temporary pop-up at Dubai's World Trade Center. The pavilion's primary purpose is to represent the ethos of innovation, sustainability, and collaboration at a global, Dubai-based industry convention. 'Luminescents Pavilion' is a structure hosting ten scents crafted by ten expert Perfumers, taking the visitor on a multi-sensorial journey.

A contrast of an Exhilarating Sanctuary

The floor plan of the structure is symmetrical. The circulation directs the visitor in a zig-zag-like motion through the space to experience the different scents.

As opposed to the austere and monolithic exterior, the interior space is composed of ephemeral and lightweight fabric strips due to its minimal ecological impact. Different tones of Yellow, the color of hope, were chosen for the fabric. Each module had a gradual transition of color from a dark shade to a light shade. The lightest shade of Yellow is ‘Pantone Illuminating Yellow,’ the color of the year 2021, which surrounds the black pedestals that host each of the fragrances.

Generating Complexity with Modularity

'Luminescents Pavilion' is composed of 24 modules, with only six unique types. The unassuming exterior takes the visitor into a 'dramatic sanctuary' Each module highlights one of the fragrances below. The design of the modules was to explicitly enclose the structure from the sides while also keeping a sense of ambiguity from the entrance, reducing the visitor's vision; the cascading fabric creates discrete arched enclosures.

Each module hosts 150 pieces of fabric that vary in width and height; with the aid of computational design and digital fabrication, each piece of fabric was tagged with a unique identifier to assist in the building process.

image © Alex Jeffries Photography Group

The modules are triangular, with longer and wider pieces of fabric at the periphery, and smaller pieces of fabric at the center, generating a gradient in color and size. The implementation of this strategy was to minimize the amount of material used to achieve the spatial effect.

The steel structure hosting the modules is composed of a truss-like triangulated roof supported by fifteen columns. The number of unique modules is kept to a minimum to avoid complications during manufacturing and installation while achieving a complex interior.

Light At The End of The Tunnel

‘Luminescents Pavilion’ investigates themes of Hope, Resilience, Rejuvenation, and Light as notions of optimism- to overcome the COVID 19 epidemic. The pavilion’s design refers to these ideas to create a modular structure that suspends fabric from the ceiling, highlighting the scents underneath.

About MEAN*

MEAN* Is an Innovative Architecture Practice that works at the nexus of design and emergent technologies.

Since its inception in 2016, MEAN* has developed projects of varying scales and functions. The overarching theme of the work produced by MEAN* responds to the contemporary context of the Middle East, developing a site-specific, native architectural language in juxtaposition to avant-garde technologies.

MEAN* utilizes cutting-edge computational design processes and digital fabrication tools to leverage the quality of architectural solutions. Our mission is to amalgamate computation, material research, and digital fabrication, to provide interdisciplinary solutions that respond to current economic, environmental, and social challenges.

MEAN* worked on projects ranging from large public buildings, residential, retail to small experimental structures and products. Most of which had been praised by international awards and publications for the innovative approach taken to materiality, fabrication methods, and outstanding design quality.

A major focus in the body of work at MEAN* remains rooted in the preservation of the character, ecology, and history of the locale, while projecting towards a globalized future. We aim to produce contemporary, visionary, and world-class architecture - with a vernacular mindset.

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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