New Zealand Pavilion at Expo 2020, Dubai

Showcasing New Zealand innovation and kaitiakitanga on a global stage

Expo2020 NZ Pavilion_JASMAX_09_Exterior © Mohamed Somji.jpg

Project Details

Client New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE)
Sector Culture & Community
Location Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Discipline Architecture, Interior 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 was themed ‘Care for People and Place’. The concept underpinning the design was 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 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 was 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, was represented physically and metaphorically in the pavilion design. As a unifying storytelling element, it was key to helping visitors understand the concept of kaitiakitanga.

Guided through a multi-sensory visitor experience

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

Upon entering the pavilion, visitors were guided through an internal walkway, where an immersive digital representation of the river coursed alongside the walls. Triggered by sophisticated movement tracing technologies, visitors were able to interact with, and disrupt the flow of the river by marking their presence within the flow of light surrounding them.

The River Room is where pavilion visitors were introduced to the physical representation of the Whanganui River, Te Awa Tupua, for the first time. In this darkened space, sheets of water fell 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 was 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 was this stone that formed the origin of the aural pulse emanating from the inside to the exterior of the pavilion. Next, a Film Room featured a state-of-the-art audio-visual experience transporting visitors as they learned 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 reflecting Aotearoa New Zealand.

Expo2020 NZ Pavilion_JASMAX_10_Exterior.jpg

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