This article was contributed by the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ)

Located at the heart of Europe, Austria uses diversity as an asset and combines different approaches to create new solution. Austria’s participation in the Expo Dubai makes use of this very principle.

In line with the Expo theme ‘connecting minds, creating the future’, the Austrian pavilion at Expo 2020 combines Arab and Austrian best practice with innovative construction methods to deliver intelligent, resource-efficient architecture.

“In Dubai, we will present ourselves as a cosmopolitan country that meets global challenges with innovative and creative solutions,” says Austrian Commissioner General Beatrix Karl. “As was the case at the world exhibitions in Milan and Astana, we once again opted for an unusual [design] concept in Dubai.”

State of the art pavilion

Based on the theme ‘Every Good Idea Begins with the Right Question’, the pavilion is located in the Opportunity district on a 2,400 square-metre site. The foundation stone was laid on 13 November 2019 and the project is now rapidly shaping up.

The pavilion consists of 38 interlocking cones made of concrete, whose heights will range from six to 15 metres; the cones will be cut off at the top and plastered with clay.

The main exhibition area will be a semi-exterior space that will not require mechanical ventilation due to the arrangement of the cones – thus the Austrian Pavilion will require 70 per cent less energy than a conventional, air-conditioned building in Dubai.

Furthermore, extensive shading, increased air movement due to the geometry of the cones and white exterior plaster, that significantly reduces heat input, will naturally create a pleasant indoor climate.

The concept and design of the pavilion was put together by Viennese architecture firm Querkraft.

The exterior of the pavilion arouses curiosity, while the exhibition inside takes visitors on an inspiring journey of discovery through spectacular spatial sequences, bringing together sensory and digital experiences into a coherent structure,” says Karl.

A total of 100 Austrian companies will be present at Expo 2020 Dubai, including firms located in iLab, equipment providers and companies responsible for design and execution of the pavilion.

Austria’s participation at the expo is funded by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs (BMDW) and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ). The overall budget, including the cost of the pavilion, is €16.48m (AED66.5m). BMDW will fund 75 per cent of this, while the remainder will be taken care of by WKO.

Connecting people, technology and environment

The visitor takes centre stage. The exhibition allows visitors to experience Austria with all their senses, supported by digital technology in very different ways. It sends its visitors on a journey using creative digitalisation and Austrian high-tech solutions.

The motto of the Austrian pavilion is ‘Austria makes sense’. This is depicted through the use of smart, sustainable architecture as well as innovative projects and products in iLab, that demonstrate Austria’s innovative strength and economic competence.

At the same time, the pavilion will be a place of reflection where visitors consciously perceive themselves and the environment.

iLab

iLab, which stands for innovation, inspiration, information and interaction, will be particularly exciting. In this area, ground-breaking initiatives and inspiring solutions from Austrian companies and research institutions will be presented alternately.

“From the very beginning, world exhibitions have been places of networking, where the best ideas enter into a creative competition,” explains Karl. “In the iLab, we will show Austria’s versatile potential and present opportunities and perspectives, especially with regard to digitisation. We will address global issues and present innovations from Austria which depict prototypical future scenarios.”

A list of 40 companies participating in iLab will be announced in January 2020.

Intensifying relations

The course of the Austrian participation at Expo 2020 will see a diverse, cultural and eventful programme. Austria’s participation will thus initiate dialogue with visitors from the UAE and beyond at many different levels.

“Austria and the UAE share almost the same size in terms of population and area,” says Karl. “And the UAE is already Austria’s most important economic partner in the Middle East and North Africa region.” Dubai in particular is an important partner and a central hub for trade in the GCC.

The UAE has showcased a strong interest in high-tech solutions from Austria, with innovations in the construction and environmental sectors being particularly in great demand. Additionally, with increasing health awareness, Austrian organic food represents an exciting niche. The products are manufactured to meet the highest ecological standards.