Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Led by Linna Choi and Tarik Oualalou of the Paris-based firm of O+C | OUALALOU + CHOI, the design for the Morocco Pavilion at the 2021 Expo in Dubai showcases how traditional Moroccan design and construction techniques can find new relevance in contemporary design and urban development efforts.
As a pioneering work of rammed earth construction—the building’s 4000 m² rammed earth facade will be the largest of its kind—the Pavilion aims to push the technical and creative limits of Morocco’s traditional building materials to new heights, while paying tribute to the country’s rich and varied culture and landscape.
Comprised of twenty-two stacked rectangular volumes visually resonant with vernacular rammed-earth villages in Morocco, the Pavilion encompasses fourteen exhibition spaces, a traditional Moroccan restaurant, a tea room, a modern street food area, a shop, an event space, an office space, and a lounge.
Arranged vertically around a lush inner courtyard—an important spatial element in traditional Moroccan architecture—each of these spaces are connected by a continuous “inner street”, which begins at the building’s uppermost floor and gradually descends to the ground floor.
The Pavilion’s “street” organizes a set route between sequential exhibition spaces, allowing visitors to come into contact with and experience the different regions and cultures of Morocco.
Along this exhibition route, the restaurant, tea room, lounge, and ten hanging gardens offer visitors moments of pause and framed views of the surrounding Expo as they descend to the Pavilion’s ground level.
The Pavilion’s exterior envelope is composed of a 4000 m², 33 m high rammed earth facade, an ambitious technical feat pioneering in its advancement of rammed earth construction methods.
Rammed earth, a traditional building material in Morocco, plays a key role in passively regulating indoor conditions in hot and arid places.
Its use in the Pavilion proves that it is a material at once traditional and innovative, offering an example of how such building methods can serve to inspire more sustainable models of urban development.
In conjunction with other passive strategies used in the design of the building, such as wooden interior facades which double as sunscreens, the rammed earth facade allows the Pavilion to answer fully to the demanding ecological standards of LEED.
In line with this commitment to sustainability, after the conclusion of the 2021 Expo the Pavilion will be converted into a housing complex, with existing facilities thoughtfully adapted into apartments, an 80 m² swimming pool, a fitness club, and a shared lounge.
Project: Pavilion for the Kingdom of Morocco at EXPO 2020 Dubai
Architects: O+C | OUALALOU + CHOI
Client: Kingdom of Morocco