Expo architecture: Atelier Ten collaborates with esteemed designers to complete hat-trick of World Expo pavilions

At Atelier Ten, we bring structures to life, and our expertise as environmental designers and building service engineers continues to be utilised in the production of pavilions at trade expos around the world. Working in collaboration with an esteemed collection of designers and architects, we have now contributed to the UK’s pavilions at World Expos in Shanghai (2010), Astana (2017), and Dubai (2021).

The most recent, completed working within a design team led by Es Devlin and Avantgarde, was the UK pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 (running until March 2022). Adventurously marrying A.I technologies with poetry, the pavilion seeks to ask questions about national identity and global connectivity, articulated through a structure built around the creative reordering of words contributed by visitors upon arrival. Our work, focused on sustainability and engineering services, ensured that the comfort of visitors was maintained at minimal environmental cost.

Eleven years prior, at Shanghai Expo 2010, we worked in collaboration with Heatherwick Studio to implement the building services design of an intricate pavilion formed of 70,000 LED lights, each positioned on individual translucent cilia radiating out from a central internal structure. Chiefly a question of ventilation, we helped to create a system which kept air flow safe and comfortable, with minimal visual impact on the aesthetics of the pavilion.

More recently, at Astana Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan, we worked in partnership with the team at Asif Khan, as well as musician Brian Eno, and astrophysicist Catherine Heymans from the University of Edinburgh. The pavilion, built around the expo’s theme of ‘Future Energy’, was designed to communicate the myriad ways in which energy underwrites life on earth, from the sun to humanity.

Working in collaboration with some of the world’s leading creatives continues to provide entire project teams with the potential to create pavilions which inspire, and reflect, our combined expertise. Helping to make beautiful buildings, which service and inspire their users, and set architecture within a wider environmental ecology, is what we do. And if our work remains invisible to the visual experience of the structure itself, then all the better for it.