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The Journey of Senses: Luxembourg pavilion at World Expo - Dubai, United Arab Emirates by Metaform Architects

Project name:
The Journey of Senses
Architecture firm:
Metaform Architects
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Steve Troes Fotodesign, Metaform Architects
Principal architect:
Shahram Agaajani, Thierry Cruchten, and G.G Kirchner
Design team:
Goblet Lavandier & Associés Ingénieurs-Conseils S.A (Technical engineer), Jangled Nerves (External Collaborator)
Built area:
2100 m²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Structural engineer:
Cultural › Pavilion

The main inspiration for the pavilion design comes from Metaform Architects' desire to convey a true reflection of Luxembourg’s past, present, and future, while also presenting the values of the country: small but ambitious, intriguing yet reassuring, and above all generous and open. What better inspiration than a Möbius strip, a loop, a single surface twisted with neither beginning nor end, symbolizing infinity and, most of all, the circular economy and diversity united as one.

One of the biggest challenges was to find a good flow for visitors to pass through quickly. A setback was thus created between the main walking street and the pavilion: the space and distance offer a clear perception of the whole.

Given that the visitor experience begins in the waiting line, Metaform designed a ramp as a welcoming red carpet, inviting people to discover the building, and guiding them along a continuous path that blurs the limits between the exterior and interior.

image © Steve Troes Fotodesign

How do you merge user experience, scenography, and architecture?

Scenography and architecture are complementary in the mission to merge people with the exhibition. In a didactic, interactive, and intuitive way, different projections and animations display the country and its people. Collectively, it creates a continuous flux of images from start to finish for experiences on the top second floor. The ribbon becomes a multilayered scenography canvas, alternating floor, wall, and ceiling as means of expression.

The ground floor accommodates a storage area that is accessible from the back, as well as restrooms, a VIP suite, and an administration unit with visibility over the central area. There is also a restaurant with an open kitchen, and a gift shop oriented towards the front area.

The first floor, accessible directly from the main ramp, is a multi-functional space. To accommodate concerts, receptions, and conferences, the side door remains closed, and the ramp guides visitors along without causing disruptions. When hosting a temporary exhibition, the door serves as a barrier, with the indoor space becoming an intuitive part of the flow.

image © Steve Troes Fotodesign

The second floor is the highest reaching point, and is dedicated to the space-themed exhibition. To reach the earth again, a slide down through the picturesque green patio concludes the journey in a fun and playful way.

The journey from the bottom to the top is continuous, but constantly changing. While moving between the inner and outer protective skins, the feeling of being in and out at the same time prevails. The proportion of the space constantly changes, giving a nod to the similar perceptional changes of Luxembourg City due to its very particular and unique landscape. A variety of parallel visual connections are created on different levels, and through different stages. Ambiances and moods shift instantaneously, sparking curiosity to learn more about the country. 

One of the requirements was to complete the project using 70% reused or recycled materials, which was a challenge that Metaform met by opting for steel construction. The fiberglass membrane, although difficult to recycle, can be reused by the producer, who specifically agreed with it.

About Metaform Architects

Founded in 2003, today Metaform Architects is managed by Shahram Agaajani, Thierry Cruchten, and G.G Kirchner. Their complementary artistic minds provide the framework for the life and projects of the firm. The firm’s key achievements, including the creation of the Luxembourg pavilion at EXPO2020 in Dubai, and Luxembourg’s Velodrome, bear witness to the firm's know-how and expertise.

Metaform Architects is composed of a multidisciplinary team of over 40 collaborators. Their creative and daring approach introduces a distinct signature style to each project. The firm is active both nationally and internationally, with offices located in the hearts of both Luxembourg and Dubai.

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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