Interview: Oman Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai
Construction Business News ME interviewed Rihab Zakwani and Alya Al Battashi, lead architects at Adi Architecture, who were responsible for the design of the Oman Pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai.
Tell us about the initial idea behind the design?
The Omani Pavilion’s design takes inspiration from Boswellia sacra, the tree from which the precious frankincense resin native to Oman, known as Lubaan, is tapped. It is this modest tree, from which the resin has been sustainably harvested for centuries, that Oman has built its place in the world. It makes sense that it should represent Oman at Expo 2020 Dubai, the first World Expo to be held in our region and the largest event ever staged in the Arab world.
How does the design of the pavilion reflect Oman?
Frankincense has bridged civilizations around the world for millennia. The finest Omani frankincense has long been carried on commercial convoys traveling from Dhofar to the shores of southern Iraq, the Levant, ancient Egypt, and from the coasts of Gaza into Europe, where it was particularly appreciated in ancient Rome. This is why frankincense was selected as the main theme of the Oman Pavilion’s storyline and the inspiration behind its design.
What sort of message were you looking for when designing the pavilion?
A modern telling of Oman’s story – rooted in respect for its past, inspired by its dynamic present, and shaped by its optimistic vision for the future. The pavilion will tell a story of Oman’s past using contemporary design while maintaining the spirit of Arab and Islamic architecture.
Tell us how this design is unique and what special features does it have? What did you think made your design stand out from the rest?
The building’s asymmetrical, flowing form, which is reminiscent of the tree’s low, shade-giving branches, is designed to give the impression of a structure that envelops and protects life. It’s elliptical shape wraps around a simulated tree experience at its heart and as its focal point. The building creates the impression of growing around and protecting the tree.
Tell us about the challenges you faced while coming up with this design?
It wasn’t hard convincing anyone about the concept. The frankincense shaped design was the obvious solution to represent the story of Oman. Our concept is simple and elegant. It resonates with people from the region and will intrigue those from beyond.