Expo 2020 Dubai's Campus Germany is a “big” but “good challenge”

EXCLUSIVE: The World Expo's Germany Pavilion discusses the budget and construction progress of its three-storey structure

The Germany Pavilion will be located within Expo 2020 Dubai’s Sustainability District. [image: Supplied]
The Germany Pavilion will be located within Expo 2020 Dubai’s Sustainability District. [image: Supplied]

Germany has been participating in World Expos since 1851, when it was first organised at London’s Hyde Park. At Expo 2020 Dubai, the European country will have Campus Germany-themed 4,600m2, three-storey pavilion.

The pavilion, which construction began in April 2019, was topped out in March 2020, at a traditional topping out ceremony. German and Expo officials including vice president for political affairs at Expo 2020 Dubai, Maha Al Gargawi, signed the last steel beam of the pavilion.

“Germany is really an expo country. Since the middle ages, since people started moving around and trading, we’ve been at the crossroads of the trading roots, so we have a strong tradition of trade fairs. We’ve been part of every expo, since the beginning,” Ernst Peter Fischer, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the UAE, tells Construction Week, while speaking on the sidelines of the topping out ceremony.

Swiss contractor NUSSLI Adunic is responsible for the construction works on the pavilion, the architecture and spatial design, which has been provided by Berlin-based LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architecture).

The country’s largest trade fair organisers, Koelnmesse, is the project manager of the pavilion — responsible for organising and running the pavilion — on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Meanwhile, Cologne-based Facts and Fiction is responsible for content, exhibition and media design.

Speaking to Construction Week about the ideation stage of the Campus Germany’s design, lead architect and lead designer on the project, and chief of projects at LAVA, Christian Tschersich, says: “The idea of the architectural concept is strongly connected to the overall theme of the pavilion and of the exhibition itself. The general idea was to present Germany as an open country.”

“We see the building as a campus, so it is not composed of a single volume, but an interplay of different volumes. This also resembles the idea of the main theme of the expo, “Connecting Minds, Creating The Future”,” Tschersich adds.

The pavilion’s theme is based on university life, and visitors will be invited to enrol like students at a university, before being guided through three laboratories – Future Energy Lab, Future City Lab, and Biodiversity Lab – with the tour ending along the lines of a university graduation.

Talking about the budget of the pavilion, commissioner-general of the German Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, Dietmar Schmitz, says: “The pavilion is completely financed by the government and it is about $54.7m. The deeper sense is that we want to give more creative possibilities to the companies and the agencies who develop the system.”

According to Schmitz, having sponsors means they will want their products to be displayed, which is not the idea of the German pavilion at an expo.

“If companies want to sell, we always tell them, please go to trade fairs that are for businessmen, but an expo is not for a businessman, it is mostly for the normal public of the country and international visitors,” Schmitz adds.

Explaining in detail about the pavilion’s construction progress, project manager responsible for the German Pavilion at NUSSLI Adunic, Mirco Amstad tells Construction Week : “On-going construction activities for the pavilion include the steel structure, the concrete course, and the composite slab.”

“Currently, the steel structure is the main focus in terms of construction activities. It is approximately 60% installed, while the overall project is 40 to 45% complete,” Amstad adds.

Mobilisation works on the pavilion commenced on 26 August 2019, and after a week of mobilisation, the ground was excavated for the first time on 1 September, Amstad recalls. The enabling works, which comprises the foundation was finished by early December 2019, following which the teams started with the concrete cores and the steel structure.

 More than 150 labourers are deployed on the site for the construction of the pavilion and they work in day and night shifts. Together these workers have recorded 72,000 safe-man hours on site, as of 4 March.

Amstad says: “For main activities we had the day shift. During the night we were mostly managing logistics and arranging the material. I would say we had one and a half shifts, with 120 workers deployed in the day and remaining 30 at night.”

Speaking about the adoption of technology for the construction of the German pavilion, Amstad explains: “The one main thing about the pavilion is the structure itself, which we are building out of steel, with concrete slabs, and cores. Hence, we are using BIM to make the process easier.”

The technology is also being used for the envelope. Amstad firmly says: “BIM is much faster.”

The total amount of steel used for the pavilion is 750,000 tonnes while installed steel is around 450,000 tonnes. “Steel works are about 65% complete,” Amstad adds.

NUSSLI Adunic’s teams have started with the containment in terms of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) works.

“The floors have been concealed and it’s just a question of days when we start with the ventilation ductwork.”

Amstad excitedly says: “The pavilion is challenging in the design, which is transferred to the execution. It is a big but a good challenge.”

He continues: “Following completion of the Expo, the materials will be reused or recycled. The pavilion will not be reinstalled somewhere else, as that is not the idea.”

Meanwhile, Tschersich adds: “The whole structure is based on the fact that it will be taken down, which draws on the idea of circular economy.”

Tscherich concludes: “The building is a non-permanent connection of materials.

“It is like one moment in the life-span of the material, but it has been designed with reuse in mind.”

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