New Zealand Pavilion at Expo 2020, Dubai

Showcasing New Zealand innovation and kaitiakitanga on a global stage

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Project Details

Client New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE)
Sector Culture & Community
Location Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Discipline Architecture, Interior Design, Brand Design
Status Completed 2021
Design collaborators Haumi, Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Workshop e, Kaynemaile, Mott MacDonald

Care for People and Place

Led by Jasmax in collaboration with Haumi, Whanganui iwi Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Workshop e, Kaynemaile, and Mott MacDonald, the New Zealand Pavilion at Expo 2020 is themed ‘Care for People and Place’. The concept underpinning the design is based on the Māori concept of kaitiakitanga.

At the heart of this concept lies the belief that people and nature are inextricably connected; that we are one with nature, and that we have a responsibility to care for and protect our environment, and in return, it will care for and protect us.

The pavilion experience is centred on showcasing how kaitiakitanga is inspiring New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses to think differently about their relationship with the world; to better address the challenges the world is facing, and to create innovative solutions to help overcome them.

Te Awa Tupua

The design of the pavilion is inspired by the world-first legal status accorded to the Whanganui River, which was legally recognised as a living entity in 2017. Under the Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act, the river has been conferred with the same legal rights as a person.

This innovative legislation marks generations of effort by the Whanganui iwi Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi to protect the river’s wellbeing. It acknowledges the inextricable connection between the river and its people, and the understanding that when the river thrives, the people thrive.

It also obligates the government, local authorities, and all communities of the river to work together to care for and protect the river.

The Whanganui River, Te Awa Tupua, is represented physically and metaphorically in the pavilion design. As a unifying storytelling element, it is key to helping visitors understand the concept of kaitiakitanga.

Guided through a multi-sensory visitor experience

When approaching the New Zealand Pavilion, visitors first encounter a rippling, water-like façade hovering over a low entry and hear a heartbeat, or pulse, emanating from the building. The façade moves in time with this low-frequency sound, which represents the mauri, or life-force of the river.

Upon entering the pavilion, visitors are guided through an internal walkway, where an immersive digital representation of the river courses alongside the walls. Triggered by sophisticated movement tracing technologies, visitors are able to interact with, and disrupt the flow of the river by marking their presence within the flow of light that surrounds them. Observing how their presence interacts with, and disrupts the river’s flow, they may come to the fundamental realisation of how powerfully their presence impacts nature.

The River Room is where pavilion visitors are introduced to the physical representation of the Whanganui River, Te Awa Tupua, for the first time. In this darkened space, sheets of water fall nine metres from the ceiling to the floor, creating a space for contemplation of the whakataukī ‘Ko te awa te mātāpuna o te ora, He wai toiora, mātūtūai te tangata | The river is our essence, When it is healed, we are healed’.

At the centre of the room is a mauri toka (stone) brought from the upper reaches of Mount Tongariro, where the main stem of the Whanganui River rises. Gifted by Ngāti Hikairo ki Rotoaira, it is this stone which forms the origin of the aural pulse which emanates from the inside to the exterior of the pavilion. Next, a Film Room features a state-of-the-art audio-visual experience transporting visitors as they learn how New Zealand is innovating to Care for People and Place.

In addition to providing the lead design services, Jasmax also devised the pavilion’s wayfinding and signage, including a discrete set of brand patterns and an interior colour palette that reflects Aotearoa.

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The New Zealand Pavilion provides space for the exchange of ideas and culture

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