carlo ratti reveals final design for italian pavilion at expo 2020 dubai

carlo ratti reveals final design for italian pavilion at expo 2020 dubai

exactly one year before the opening of expo 2020 dubai, italy has unveiled the final design for its national pavilion, conceived by carlo ratti associati (CRA), italo rota building office, matteo gatto & associati, and F&M ingegneria. the design, which was previewed on designboom here, comprises three boats that will embark on a figurative journey to dubai before being converted to form the structure’s roof. after the event is over, the boats — considered an exploration of recycling, circularity and digitally reconfigurable architecture — will move on and be reused elsewhere.

carlo ratti italian pavilion expo 2020
all images by carlo ratti associati



the design of the pavilion uses materials such as orange peels, coffee grounds, mycelium, and recycled plastic extracted from the ocean, as construction elements. the pavilion is exposed to the atmosphere, using natural climate control strategies instead of air conditioning. space is delimited by an adaptable façade made of LED curtains and nautical ropes, which will create a digital layer able to broadcast multimedia content.

carlo ratti italian pavilion expo 2020



‘we liked the idea of a pavilion that would continuously mutate into different forms,’ explains carlo ratti, founding partner of CRA and director of the MIT senseable city lab. ‘we pursued a kind of architecture that could be reconfigured both in the long term — because of its circularity — and in the short term — thanks to digital technologies.’

carlo ratti italian pavilion expo 2020



the pavilion’s roof is a sinuous surface that recalls sea and desert waves. meanwhile, the base of the pavilion is carved out of a giant sand dune, accessible to people. the project makes a conscious effort to integrate materials that hint at dubai’s local geography, as well as organic waste to experiment with more sustainable building practices and engage with the circular economy. for instance, the exhibition will stretch over a dune made with real sand, while the skywalk will be clad in materials obtained from discarded orange peels and used coffee grounds.

carlo ratti italian pavilion expo 2020



‘the pavilion is circular in nature. nothing goes to waste; instead, we reclaim it and reimagine its purpose,’ adds architect italo rota, founding partner of italo rota building office. ‘the sea will figuratively enter the structure through one of its living organisms, seaweeds, which will be used to produce energy and food.’ the pavilion, along with expo 2020’s other buildings, will open its doors on october 20, 2020, and will remain on view until april 10, 2021.

carlo ratti reveals final design for italian pavilion at expo 2020 dubai

carlo ratti reveals final design for italian pavilion at expo 2020 dubai

carlo ratti reveals final design for italian pavilion at expo 2020 dubai



project info:


project by: CRA-carlo ratti associati and italo rota building office, with matteo gatto & associati and F&M ingegneria


CRA team: carlo ratti, saverio panata (project manager), francesco strocchio (project leader), monika löve (project leader), alberto benetti, luca bussolino, mario daudo, luca giacolini, serena giardina, alberto geuna, gerolamo gnecchi, andrea fasolo, francesca marino, lucia miglietta, nicola scaramuzza, ina sefgjini, alessandro tassinari, giovanni trogu, davide ventura
renderings by CRA graphic team: gary di silvio, pasquale milieri, gianluca zimbardi


italo rota building office team: italo rota, francesca grassi, francesco lato, omid mohammadi, gilberto piano, sammy zarka


matteo gatto & associati team: matteo gatto, edoardo perani, paolo del toro
F&M ingegneria team: sandro favero, federico zaggia, luigi ranzato, mirco zuin, mauro baessato, dino casagrande, davide pizzolato, marco furlanetto, antonio nuzzo, nicola ros, francesca favero, rade batinica, marco bonaldo, hazem abdul karim, abid pasha, nicola ferrari, roberto maffei


creative director: davide rampello, studio rampello and partners


set design consultant: alessandro camera
lighting design consultant: lorenzo bruscaglioni, luminae lighting design
sound design consultant: alessandro pasini, P2A design
landscape consultant: flavio pollano
wayfinding consultant: luigi farrauto, 100km studio
graphic consultants: studio FM milano

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
507,432 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample
designboom magazine